Tuesday, September 30, 2014

month 24


I cannot believe you are two!! This is a day I have been looking forward to since you were born. You are taking us to new places as you grow and age. Very bittersweet.

Your birthday was a blast! We had a family party at home which included an awesome tractor cake, a pinata, balloons, food, cousins and lots of gifts. You are a spoiled little thing! Daddy and I took you to the aquarium that morning and then to lunch. We spent the whole day together and it was wonderful. Your dad asked you every hour who's birthday it was and we sang happy birthday probably ten times throughout the day. You most definitely knew it was your day.
You have changed so much since your last post! It amazes me how much of a difference four months can make. You are acting so grown up for just turning two. One of the biggest changes is how much you talk. You are now talking in full sentences and repeat everything me and your dad say. You talk very clearly and you talk A LOT. It is so fun to be able to carry on conversations with you and talk about your day and the things that you enjoy. You ask me a million times a day, "Mommy, what doing? What's that? What doing? What's that?" You are very curious about everything.
 A few days before your birthday we moved you into a twin bed! We were hesitant to make the switch because you never tried to climb out of your crib, but you also seemed way too old to be in a crib. The day we took your crib down you were very concerned and kept putting your pillows and blankets back onto the frame and again kept asking over and over "What doing? What doing?" But as soon as we got your bed together you LOVED it! You have been a champ with your "big boy" bed and have only gotten out one time! You love when it's bed time and run and climb in by yourself. You like to do everything by yourself these days. You are still a great sleeper, sleeping ten to twelve hours a night and napping two to three hours a day. I have been very blessed with kids that sleep well, something I do not take for granted since I love my sleep.
You are a good boy Ryder. You are most definitely curious and love to explore and push your limits but you are learning to listen and obey and often ask before you do things. You are going through a hitting stage and are sometimes a little rough with other kids but we are continuously learning how to "be nice". You are at a stage where you are taking everything in and I can see you really trying to be good and obey. You are a tenderhearted, silly, happy, strong willed little boy. Like I said before, you keep your dad and I on our toes.

You love love love love cars! You have tons and you love them all. Right now you like to drive them onto any kind of "car hauler". You have a ferry boat and a car hauler truck that you drive cars up and down the ramps over and over and over again. You pretty much love anything with a motor. You love dumb trucks, tractors, motorcycles, and four wheelers. You have a Power Wheels four wheeler that you are great at riding! We are very impressed how well you maneuver it when you can barely push the pedal. You love to swing, play in the sand, swim and ride your bike. You love to be outside whenever you can.
 Ryder, you are such a blessing to your dad and I. You have carried us through the depths of our grief and kept us alive and happy. You are a ray of sunshine. You are my lil buddy and I love being able to watch you grow. Your peaceful happy spirit is so contagious, you have literally changed our lives. You are everything buddy. We live every day for you.

Love you lots.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

time out

Four years ago today a beautiful, tiny miracle was born; a perfect little angel. Four years ago today this little girl made me a mother, the most wonderful, honorable, treasured title I could ever receive.

Today Quincy would be four. Four years old…what would it be like to have a four year old. I sit here and imagine how today could be so very different if we were planning a four year olds birthday party. What would the theme be? What would she choose to eat? What colors of balloons would we buy? What kind of cake would she choose? Who would her friends be and what would she ask for? I can only imagine how magnificent a four year olds birthday would be.

The past two years have been heavy. The pain of grief is exhausting as each day is an effort to stay positive and continuously remind myself how much I have to be grateful for. The sting of child loss never leaves. As Q’s birthday has been approaching I have contemplated what to do. How do I stay positive and gracious? Do we celebrate? She was here, she lived and her short time here is most definitely worth celebrating. But how do you plan a party for a four year old who is not here anymore. I can’t do it.

There are many things I have learned over the past two years as I have struggled with grief and growth. I feel that I have changed tremendously as an individual in ways that others may not necessarily see, but in ways that I think, ways that I am. Of all the life lessons I am learning one of the most valuable is that of truly living. Living the life we are given. Living each day to the fullest. Taking time to truly live.

We are all so caught up in everything around us. We are busy. Life is fast paced. We are often running, chasing, working, texting, chatting, shopping. We are in a world where we are constantly searching for more, we are rarely satisfied. We are often wanting something bigger, something better, something more. More clothes, more money, bigger house, more toys, better job, more friends, better everything. We want to be skinnier, prettier, happier, smarter, healthier. It’s not all bad things we are chasing, there’s a lot of good that keeps us busy but are we truly living or are we skimming by, hanging on to whatever takes us to the next thing?

Let’s take a time out.

On this day, the 19th day of August, the birthday of my angel Quincy, I ask everyone to slow down and take a time out. Set down your cell phone, turn off the TV, leave work an hour early, miss a meeting or an appointment and take some time with your little ones. Sit on the floor and do a puzzle, put together that train track or dress that baby doll in fifteen different outfits. Don’t rush, just do it and enjoy it. Tickle toes, paint nails and color pictures, laugh at jokes and read some books, look at photos. Take time to focus on what’s truly important, the little things that are right in front of us.

Life moves so quickly and we don’t know what each day will bring. I never in a million years thought I would live my life without all my children. If there is one thing anyone can learn from me, from my trial, I hope that it is to take time. Take time for the things that truly matter. Be gracious and grateful for what you have. Be content and humble. Every day, take time out. Whether its 10 min or 2 hours, just take some time to slow down, sit down and do something, anything to make the most of that day. There is absolutely nothing more important. Nothing.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

20 months, 18 days


Today you are 20 months and 18 days. Today you are the exact age Quincy was when she left. After today you pass her in age. This is one of the milestones I have been looking forward to / dreading the most. It's hard to think you, Quincy's little brother, are going to be older than her. A difficult concept to accept.

Ryder you are taking us to all sorts of new levels. You are acting so grown up, its hard for me to remember that you are only one. We are experiencing things with you already that we never got to experience with Q. Right now we are potty training. I bought a pack of undies for Q three days before the accident, we never got to use them. We have been working with you for about a month now. You are doing alright. You still have at least one accident a day, but overall you are doing great. I am proud of you.

You are a determined, strong willed little boy. You are smart and right now you are kind of naughty. You are testing your boundaries and giving your dad and I a good run. You won't win, but your determination is admirable (kind of) As well as being bull headed you are a lil sweetheart. You love to cuddle and give kisses and you give the best hugs. You are usually very pleasant and always excited about new things. You love to be outside and play in the dirt. You like balls, especially basket balls, books, puzzles, cars, daddy's blue jeep, shovels, buses, hats and all things boy. Like Q, you love the Iphone and Ipad and you can run them just as well as anyone. Smarty pants. You love to climb and jump and run. You are fully grasping the life of a one year old boy, keeping me on my toes and my nerves at their peak! I am such a worrier now and have to watch you like a hawk. You never stop!

You are talking like crazy now. We can't understand most of what you say, but you are a chatter box! Some of my favorite words you say are: Outside. You say it "eye ice". Trip (your dog). You say "bit". Elephant. You say "lala" So funny, they sound nothing like the word, but I love them.
You are still a good eater and a good sleeper. You love most foods and rarely turn anything away. You wont drink any kind of juice though which I think is so funny. Just water and milk, but only milk in the morning. You nap well and sleep 10-12 hours a night, usually without a peep. I really couldn't ask for more in these areas. I feel lucky.
Ryder, you are such a special little boy. I know I've said this over and over, but you are here at a very vulnerable time for me and your dad. There are lots of milestones and challenges that we are overcoming as we are still learning how to live without your sister. You are so very different from Quincy and we love you dearly. From this day on you are going to continue teaching your dad and I new things as we grow with you. Ryder, you are my world. I know I said this in my last letter I wrote to Quincy, but I honestly don't know what I would do without you.

Please stay forever little boy.

Love you lots.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

2 years closer


Here we are at the two year mark. Two years since you left this home on earth and joined your family in heaven. Two years little Q, how have we ever made it this long without you? The time has flown by, while at the same time it seems like a lifetime since I held you in my arms. When I look back it seems as if you were just here, but also as if you never were.

I can't help but think back to this day two years ago. I replay it over and over in my mind. I so clearly remember holding you in my arms for those very last minutes as you peacefully slipped away, your daddy and I kissing you and whispering I love you, over and over and over again. I will never never forget the feeling I felt as your spirit left your body. It was very evident to me when you left. Your lifeless body in my arms, your spirit moving into my heart. There's been many times I have held your brother and rocked him as he fell asleep and been reminded of that sacred moment that we shared. I will never forget.

As spring is coming on and the birds are chirping and the flowers are blossoming my mind is constantly drifting to May 07, 2012. It's amazing to me how much our senses are tied to our emotions. I almost can't stand the smell of flowers anymore or the birds chirping because they take me back to those days where I stayed at home, in bed, in a house full of flowers, completely consumed with grief. We were showered with so much love and kindness during those very fragile days.

I cannot see a blossomed tree and not think about that night we came home from the hospital. To come home and leave you there was the hardest part of all of this. The heaviness was lifted for just a brief moment as we pulled up to our house. The tree outside your window had blossomed and dear friends had decorated it with pink ribbons. The lawn had been freshly mowed. Pink luminaries on the steps. It was perfect. The peace was overwhelming. Every pink blossoming tree will forever take me back to that night.
There's so much I remember about those last two days we spent with you Quincy. And it's often hard to think of anything else but those horrible days. But more than anything I remember the overwhelming peace and comfort your daddy and I felt as we let you go, planned your funeral, picked out your dress and buried you, our baby girl. It is very clear that the strength was not only our own. I have had many weak moments since that time, but have felt strong and carried on when I wanted to give up. Not on my own.

Quincy, so much has changed since you left. I have struggled greatly without you here. I have had many opportunities to search deep into what I believe and who I am and who I want to be. Because of you I am a stronger me. I may not be to where I want yet, but am constantly learning and growing as I journey through this thing called grief with you, my angel, by my side.

We love you Quincy. We miss you. We long to hold you and hear you and kiss you and hug you and smell you. We cannot wait for the day we see you again. I know we will see you again.

Two years closer darling.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

i know

This weekend has been rough. Amongst being able to spoil cute little Ryder I have really struggled to stay positive. Easter weekend was always spent with the Draper family in Wallsburg eating tasty BBQ, raking fields, riding horses, shooting guns, riding ATVs, etc. It was one of the first times I met Brady's family and was something I looked forward to every year. Without Val and Kathy here, things have changed and this year more than ever, I miss it. I miss the way things used to be. I miss Sunday dinners with Val and Kathy. I miss everything.

I have thought a lot about Quincy and Val and Kathy this weekend. My mind has been consumed with memories of how things used to be and how I want them still to be. As I mentioned, this weekend was one that was usually spent with them. And two years ago, Easter weekend was one of the last family gatherings before the accident. That weekend is ingrained so deeply in my mind. Wallsburg. Easter eggs. Quincy. Quincy.

To say that I miss Quincy does not even begin to touch how desperately I long for her.

I have thought so deeply about so many things since Quincy left. The phrase "everything happens for a reason" and "it was her time to go". The way everything happened. The timing. The events surrounding the accident. I have tried to make sense of her dying, not only her, but Val and Kathy as well. Three at once. Really? I've dug deep, deep into what I have been taught my whole life and what I know about life and afterlife and agency and obedience. I have struggled so very much with myself and who I am and what it is that I truly believe. I think that in all the thinking and reasoning I have been trying to talk myself into being ok with what has happened.

I'm not.

And when I realize that I am not ok with it and nor will I ever, than I guess I'm ok. No one is expected to be ok with their child dying. It's just not ok. But what is ok about it all, is that I know that I will see her, and Val and Kathy again someday. And I know this because even as I sit her and type I am overwhelmed with warmth and comfort and emotion. When I bear testimony to myself of the things that I have been taught about life after death, about heaven, about children in a perfect state of being, about earth life being just a short time, about angels living among us, I know it is true. I know it is. 

I am so humbled and grateful for the plan of salvation. For this life and for the next. For knowledge and understanding. Now more than ever, I am grateful for family, for love and unending support. For faith and obedience.

"Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." John 11:25-26

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

shut down

One of the things I have struggled with the most after losing my sweet little Quincy has been myself. I feel like I have died. I feel like the person who I used to be, left with Q. I liked the person I was. I miss that person.

I think when you are grieving and healing, at some point, you have to shut down. The pain is far too great. Whenever I think about the actual events of the day of the accident I truly cannot comprehend it. I cannot believe that we had to go through that much tragedy and sadness. There are times I go over every detail I can remember and replay them over and over in my mind. Other times I quickly shut the memories out. My mind cannot handle it.

For the past almost two years, I have been shut down. Yes I am alive, I get up and go to work, make dinner, do dishes and laundry, go out with friends, I even smile and laugh. People think that I am fine. But at times I feel I am not being true to myself. Inside I have shut off. I feel weak and vulnerable and broken.

Life cannot be lived this way. I am young and I have a lot of life left. When I look back at the last year I feel like I haven’t even been a part of it. I look at pictures of tiny little newborn Ryder and really don’t have many memories of that time. When you are shut down inside you are not a part of life. It swirls around you and you go with the motion, but you are not engaged. I remember a few days after the funeral after all the family went home and everyone went back to work, back to life. Everything continued as normal as if nothing had happened, as if 3 people, 3 of the most important people in my life, had just died. I remember how hard it was for me to comprehend that everyone could just continue on. It seemed impossible. And for a time it was. I did very little but mourn.

Referring to the sorrowful Friday on which Jesus’s followers grieved
His death and then to the glorious Sunday on which He was resurrected,
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

“Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe
itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces.
We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again.
We will all have our Fridays.

“But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—
Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.

“No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come.
In this life or the next, Sunday will come.”

(The Healing Power of Grief  by Steven Eastmond)

As time goes on, and life goes on, I feel like I am learning to be a part of life again. Not just in person, but with my heart. I have found a new desire to want to be a part of everything, to engage in life, to feel things again. I have a longing to eat good food again, to make meals, to exercise, to stay on top of the household chores, to play, to laugh without regret, to feel joy, to just truly be a part of this life. All of these things I put aside when Q died. I truly didn’t care about anything.

Feels good to care. Feels good to live. Life is good.

Monday, January 20, 2014

month 16


You are such a big boy now! I think when babies have a birthday something clicks and they instantly grow up. There really is such a big difference when you turn one. You are a full blown toddler and I LOVE IT! As I said in Quincy’s 16 month post, besides the first few weeks we bring you home, this is my favorite stage.
You are so much fun! And you are f.u.n.n.y. You have a silly sense of humor and you are a tease just like your dad. When I give you a treat you often act like you are going to share and hand me a bite, then quickly take it back before I can grab it and put it in your mouth. You do this to Trip too with his dog treats. You almost put it in his mouth than rip it away. You think you are so funny! You love to be chased. When I tell you to go to your seat at the table for a meal or come get your shoes on, you often run, slowly, while looking behind you. You want me to chase you. And most the time you run into a corner. You really are funny to me. I love your playfulness.
You love to climb, throw, run and hit. You are loud and rambunctious. You are rough. I know I say this over and over, but you are such a boy. I never had brothers and you are my first boy so this is all so new to me. You like to play with trucks and tools. You love love love balls. You have lots of them all over the house and are almost always carrying one around. You also love buckles. Just like Q did at this age. You love to stand on a stool and buckle your booster seat at the table. This is such a sweet reminder of Quincy. We spent hours buckling and unbuckling those very same two buckles. I love that you have this  similarity.

 At your 15 month appointment you weighed in at 21lbs 15oz and were 32.75in tall. You are about 50% for weight and 75% for height. Don’t get excited, I can almost guarantee you won’t be tall. You wear size 12-18 clothes now and have a size 5 shoe. You have 4 teeth on top and 3 on bottom and 2 molars. You have had a couple hair cuts but only to even out the awkward baby hair. Your hair has a little bit of curl in it! I hope it stays. When you get out of the tub it is so so cute.

You have started talking quite a bit. Not nearly as much as Quincy did, she was a jabber box, but you are saying quite a few words. Some of the words you say the most are mommy, daddy, candy, snack, juice, night night, and please. You can communicate pretty well what you want but most of your talking is just jabbering. When we are driving in the car you will yell “MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY” over and over and over again. I talk back to you, but you continue to yell until we get to where we are going. We still have your car seat rear facing and wherever we are you like you like to keep me in your sights, so it feels like you are just making sure I’m still there since you can’t see me. As annoying as it gets, it’s endearing.
 You are still a great eater. You will eat pretty much anything we give you. You really like macaroni, green beans, chicken nuggets, cheese and any fruit and you will also eat most meats which Q would never eat. More than anything you LOVE snacks and candy. You are constantly asking me for “cannies” and “nacks”. You will go get a bowl and walk to the pantry and ask for a “nack”. It’s really hard for me to say no, especially when you say please.

Just like Q you are a great sleeper. I don’t know how I got so lucky to get such good sleepers! You go to bed around 8:30 and don’t wake up until around 8. You don’t like to be cuddled anymore and so at bed time I just give you your milk and put you to bed. Makes me sad that we don’t get to cuddle anymore but you go to sleep so well. You also nap well. I just put you in your bed and you go right to sleep. You are still taking 2 naps a day which is awesome. A few times you have even put yourself down for a nap. You tell me “nap” and go to your room and try to climb in your crib.
Ryder, you are pretty great. I really could go on and on about all the little details I love about you. These last few months I have become obsessed with you and I am overwhelmed with love whenever I look at you. You are my little buddy and I am getting so used to you toddling around at my feet. I really hope that never changes. I am terrified to be this obsessed with you and to get so attached. You are everything to me and your dad. We are overly grateful for you and your timing in joining our family. You are teaching us what this life is all about. I hope we never live a day without you.

Love you lots.