Monday, November 22, 2010

This time...

is so very we continue to live each day without our Graham. With every day closer to Thanksgiving means a day closer to Christmas and a day closer to the anniversary of Graham's meeting with Jesus. None of which I feel like I can bear. My soul still hurts so deeply and longs so much for my Graham. It's so difficult to be constantly plagued with the "last year at this time..." thoughts. My life is divided into the before and after and I have to consciously work every day, often times every moment, to live the after. People have asked me how I'm doing...if things have gotten easier. Honestly, no, I don't think things have gotten easier at all. The biggest difference is that now I feel I've learned to manage my grief a little better. I've learned to control it a bit more...but I still ache for him in a way that words simply cannot describe. I've learned to be strong on the outside even when I'm a mess on this inside. I look at toddlers and I wonder what his laugh would sound like, what his cry would sound like, how much hair he'd have, what his little personality would be like, what foods he'd like, what toys he'd play with, how the kids would be with him. These are all things I'm left to wonder about and the farther we get away from his time with us, the more difficult it is to imagine....and that is more difficult than words can even describe.
I love the holidays. I always have, but this year is so different. It is so memories with James and Lauren and yet the ache of missing our Graham. Everyone wants to know our plans and quite frankly, I don't want any plans. It's almost like in my mind if I can avoid planning it, it won't come and we won't have to endure the pain of the days where the world seems to be celebrating while we hurt. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on how much we have to be thankful for and although I am SO blessed, I can't help but feel the bitter absence of our Graham. As I sit here with tears streaming down my face, I realize though that I am so eternally grateful for my 14 weeks of life with Graham. Although I wish with everything in me it were longer, I wouldn't trade this pain and grief for not knowing my son.
We are beginning to put together ideas for the kids for Christmas. James and Lauren both have birthday within 6 weeks of Christmas so we have to put careful consideration into what we get them simply because this is it for the year. It is so difficult to know we will have an empty stocking with Graham's name on it and less presents under the tree. I think about all of the things we would have gotten Graham this year and about the unused Christmas gifts we had for him last year. I want so much to be creating 3 wish lists for my kids this year. Again, a difficult reminder of what is gone. We have decided to "adopt" a child in honor of Graham this year and purchase gifts for the child in a family. We will wrap the gifts and deliver them as a family to the child. We'd like to have the kids help us choose the gifts. This is something we'd like to do as a family to keep Graham's memory alive and to honor him.
The Christmas lights are starting to go up around the neighborhood and each time I pass a house with lights lit, my eyes well up with tears thinking about celebrating Christmas without our Graham. James and Lauren are so sweet... especially when it comes to speaking of Graham. James keeps telling me how big he thinks Graham is now and still what he thinks he's doing in heaven. Yesterday he said, "Mom, I think Graham is probably as big as you because he's been gone a long time." That was so hard for me to has been long and I hate knowing that it feels that way for James too. Every time we pass the church where Graham is buried, they excitedly wave and say, "Hi Graham-Bam or Hey Wam-Bam..Miss you Grammie." Again, these are such precious, but heart breaking moments.

I've realized something recently....grief is such a private, isolated matter and yet a very public one as well. It has and continues to affect the relationships I have with my friends, family, and world. But it is in my solitude that I am most obviously affected by my loss. Although I know I will never return to "normal" it has still been difficult for me to accept what now is the new norm. I feel so different than I used to...physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I'm certain I've aged 10 years in the past 10 months. I can't help but wonder how I'd be feeling if Graham were still with us.

We are continuing to try and leave our hurt and sorrow at the feet of Jesus. It's so hard not to question and wonder as we look around and see mother's who don't seem to care for their children. But we must remind ourselves continually that God is in control and this is ultimately part of His plan. Thank you for your prayers...please do not stop. We know that your prayers are the reason we can still get up and breathe each day. The next couple of months are going to be some of our most difficult. We again are so grateful for you....

It's Fall Folks....

I can hardly believe we are heading toward the end of November. This fall has gone quickly and our schedule has been full! James started Pre-K this fall and although the adjustment was very difficult for him (therefore for me) he has grown quite fond of it and his friends. His first exciting event was his school field trip to the fire station. Of course, he was dressed up for the part head to toe. He was almost as excited about riding the big school bus and not having to wear a seat belt as he was to go to the fire station. That's what it's all about... :)
These are his little buddies...the 3 will more than likely see all three of them together at school.
The Apple Orchard
We also got to go on a field trip with James to the apple orchard. I had a really difficult time because because a year ago we took all 3 of the kids there...Graham was just 2 weeks old and it was his first big outing. I really struggled emotionally ahead of time and as I was there with the kids, but am so grateful I got to share a fun experience with them both. It was a big step to overcome, but the payoff of making those new memories with the kids made it worth it.
Lauren loves that she gets to tag along on the field trips with us :)The kids learned how to properly pick an apple. Twist, twist, and pull up
to the sky. They were both very proud of themselves for doing it all on their own.
James gladly because a live scarecrow on the hayride as we journeyed back to the pumpkin field. I was picking straw out of his clothes for the entire day....

Mommy+Daughter=some pretty precious moments....

Lauren and I have enjoyed many quiet mornings together snuggling, having tea parties, coloring, doing puzzles, reading and even watching some Disney Playhouse. We also run lots of errands with random stops at Panera for a bagel or at Starbucks for a breakfast sandwich. Although the quiet mornings have been difficult for me, I have so thoroughly enjoyed our time together. These have been such special moments. We are both always ready to go pick James 10:30 Lauren is usually begging to get James.

Trick or Treat 2010

The kids enjoyed a great time of trick or treating this year and we actually did it twice. Once in downtown Goshen and then again in our neighborhood. James' fire helmet got a bit heavy, so it only lasted until the first house. I love that their costumes reflect their interests...a fire chief and a fairy princess (Lauren calls her wand her fairy it!)
What he does, work, work....Ever since James was a little boy he has enjoyed working...especially outside. He looks forward to going to Grandma and Grandpa Carpenter's house during the fall and helping cut and stack wood for the stove. We had a wonderful weekend working and making Carmel and candy apples as well as homemade Chinese food. We decided that needs to be a fall tradition!

We have had many more excited events, but these are just a few to keep you updated on the kids. Once again, I'm sorry I'm failing so miserably as a blogger these days. Life keeps getting
the best of me...I will update soon on Lauren's princess birthday party! It was lots of fun!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Glory Baby....

It's so difficult to look at this picture from a year ago and know how thrilled we were to have welcomed another baby into our lives...and now we sit here still feeling so much pain and emptiness as we are left to wonder what our Graham would have been like on his first birthday...

The several weeks leading up to his birthday were actually much worse than I had anticipated. They were full of a variety of emotions...lots of tears, sheer devestation and hopelessness. I usually begin planning the kids' birthday party weeks (ok months) in advance. The devestation of ordering balloons for a balloon release instead of for him to play with and squeal at ripped my heart apart. I wanted so much to be choosing the perfect party decorations and choosing an outfit for him that would match the theme (yes, because that's what I do). I wanted so much to be giving gift ideas to our friends and family and then scrambling to figure out the perfect gift from us. I wanted to take James and Lauren to the store and have them pick out something he would have loved. Instead, we were trying to cope with the fact that we would not be celebrating his first birthday in a way that I had ever dreamed. We would not have the chance to do any of those spectacular things that come along with watching your child grow up. Again, sheer devestation at what we had lost....

I had a dream last different than any one I have had up to this point. Often times I have nightmares of the night we lost Graham or of losing James and Lauren. They're really quite dreadful. For the last 9 1/2 months I have continually begged God to let me just see Graham one more time. I find myself continually disappointed that it has not happened. Last week I had a dream that Graham was given back to us at the same age he was taken from us. He was even in his Christmas jammies. It was under the condition that he live at the hospital. Of course I wanted to be with him all day long, sleep by him, hold him, spend every waking moment with him, but the nurses kept telling me that I needed to go home. And I begged and pleaded with them to let me stay...I couldn't ever leave him again. They didn't understand... The dream was so real. I remember the joy I had when I realized he was being given back to us. But the reality of waking up to exactly what it was...a dream, was simply devestating to the core. I woke up almost in a panic and realized quickly that my Graham was not given back to us. I have wondered if that glimpse of joy I felt in my dream was just a glimmer of what it will be like when we are reunited with Graham in heaven....I can't even imagine how wonderful that will be and trust me, I think about it an awful lot.

I don't know how heaven works and how old Graham would be, but there are things I've chosen to believe about heaven and Graham's life in heaven because it's easier for me that way. Therefore I believe that Graham had a big 1st birthday party in heaven. I'm sure it was incredible and the angels weren't stressing about getting the cake just right. ;) I do think though that my party would have ranked a close second to his party in heaven. I just wish with everything in me that we were able to celebrate with watch him dive into his cake and manage to somehow end up with frosting in his ears. I wish we could have watched him open his presents and try and eat the wrapping paper. I wish we could have seen him bat at his balloons and squeal with delight as he opened new books, stuffed animals, and toys. I wish, I wish...

We had a celebration in honor and memory of our Graham William on the Saturday following his birthday. Close friends and family joined us for a very emotional, yet beautiful evening. It was full of tears and brokenness and yet I really felt like we were honoring and celebrating his 14 precious weeks of life. We ate dinner together, watched the video full of pictures and video clip of Graham's life then made our way out to the cemetary for prayer and a balloon release.

Here are just a few pictures of our evening...

14 white roses representing his 14 weeks of life...and white roses meaning new beginnings...

In leui of gifts we asked everyone to bring a children's book to donate in honor of Graham. We are taking them to Riley's Children's Hospital knowing that they help children from all over the world. We collected over 100 books...what an amazing way to honor our baby.

James and Lauren each picked out a piece of pottery to paint for Graham. James picked out a horse and Lauren chose a dragonfly. Perfect pieces from their hearts. They turned out beautifully and the kids left them so lovingly at Graham's grave. That was one of the hardest parts of the evening actually...watching them so carefully place their gifts at his grave.

If you look carefully you can see the balloons heading toward heaven...balloons honoring our Graham. The kids loved that so many balloons were sent to heaven just for him....they thought Graham would think it was so funny.

I think this is just a beautiful picture of all of my children.

I debated whether or not to include a picture of his headstone on my blog. It is such a beautiful and intimate thing, but I know there are many of you who have asked to see it and would never have the chance otherwise. It's so beautiful and breathtaking especially in person. One of my friends referred to it as "majestic." I still hate with every ounce of breath in me that we even had to choose this and still find myself in disbelief that this is the headstone of my precious baby, but I think it's a beautiful structure.

Thank you so much for those of you who prayed your hearts out for us and for the entire month of Septmeber and specifically the days leading up to his birthday. Thank you for wishing him a Happy Birthday. The week was agonizing and yet I cannot imagine having gone through it without the hope of seeing him again and your prayers. Once again we are humbled and amazed by the body of Christ. We survived one of the hardest milestones of this baby's first birthday. The milestones are not over and the next few months we are plagued with the holidays and then the anniversary of his meeting with Jesus. Again, when I think about it I wonder how I'll survive. I don't feel like I can, but that is when I try and surrender my fears, anxiety, hurt, and sheer devestation of our loss at the feet of Jesus.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It is Well with My Soul...

Wanted to show you one of my favorite pictures...this munchkin always had his fist in his mouth. And I love that you can see his big, bright eyes....miss this precious boy so much! I can see
his slobber marks on his shirt and just ache to put a new, dry one on him.

We sang It is Well with My Soul at church on Sunday...I cried the entire time. Luke and I had this sung at our wedding and debated on having it at Graham's memorial service. It has always been a special song to us although it holds such a different meaning than it did 8 years ago as I got ready to walk down the aisle. I have begged God over and over to make this song real in my life. When I think of the phrase...when sorrow like sea billows roll...I realize it is the perfect picture of my pain. And yet I want to say and believe, it is well with my soul. I pray this will
be more real in my life than we could have ever imagined. We are trying to
see God in the midst of the pain...knowing beauty will rise from the ashes...

Our grief is hanging on. Most days I wonder if I will ever creep out from underneath its shadow. Although the shadow is most definitely there, lately, I have been able to at least see where I'm walking. The last week and a half have been the "best" weeks I have had up to this point....this is the longest stretch I have gone without falling into a deep, dark slump. It is the first time I have had several days in a row when I felt as though I could actually breathe...that I didn't have a cement block on my chest. I am so grateful for that and yet in this time I find myself once again feeling like a stranger in a foreign land. I've grown so accustomed to the unbearable pain that having 10 days of it easing up is almost uncomfortable. There also comes a level of guilt even though I know those are just lies, for me they are a reality.
Grief has so many complex emotions and working through them all remains exhausting.

I still think of Graham every minute, miss him, cry for him, long for him, talk to him but the hope of seeing him again someday has been more real to me right now than it has in 7 1/2 months. I hope reading this line brought a smile to your face because several months ago I couldn't fathom finding peace...ever...this is because of your prayers. I remember
walking past his crib a few weeks ago (which is in our room so I pass it frequently)
and for the first time I didn't feel like I was going to throw up or pass out. I felt
almost an inner calm. It was in that moment that I knew healing IS taking place. Often
times I don't feel as though I'm moving forward at all, so it was nice to be able
to see "evidence" of some gains. I'm sure it won't be that way every time, but it happened...
I felt it...
Everyone continues to tell me it does get better. So it must, right? I hope so...I must
believe that it does. And yet, there is something strangely reassuring
knowing that I will always have this empty space in my heart because it means I will never, ever forget Graham. Nothing and no one will ever be able to fill that
very special place I hold for him.
He's my son, my precious baby boy... he will be that forever and ever.
It feels as though I've been grieving forever. I'm still encountering so many firsts...One thing about grief that I never understood is that it's so encompassing. It's not just the ache and the tears that come on holidays or the 6th or 23rd of each month. It's the everyday life
experiences that are constant reminders of what we have lost...what we are missing...I know
that for the rest of my earthly life I will encounter things that will make me long for my son. I'm
continuing to pray that eventually they will not paralyze me like they do now.

I was watching James at the pool several weeks ago and he went to jump off the
diving board for the first time. Exciting right? Absolutely! But after beaming ear to ear I began joy immediately turned to sorrow because I realized I will never see
Graham jump off the diving board. Those types of experiences
while seeming trivial, continue to fuel my grief. I feel as though my entire
life will be full watching James and Lauren "do" life without Graham.

I often times find myself overwhelmed with how I will make it through life with this gaping hole in my heart. Yes, I know the pain will lessen and the emotions will not be so
raw, but the reality is I will ALWAYS, always miss, love, long for, and ache for Graham. I have to constantly remind myself to take it a day at a stay focused on today... otherwise
I get too overwhelmed.

I'm learning and trying to incorporate my grief into my everyday life so that it doesn't
dominate my life. Right now it is still the first thing I think about when I wake up in
the morning and the last thing I think about when I fall asleep at night. I have felt a sense of renewal over the last few weeks of my body and spirit. I haven't felt so exhausted.
I'm so grateful for this breath of fresh air although wondering when it will end offers a great deal of anxiety. I'm trying to embrace this time knowing that possibly soon
I will be faced with those days and moments again when the tears won't stop,
when my prayers seem unheard, when God seems so far away,
when breathing is work, when I feel alone and hopeless,
when I wonder how I can go on.

Many of you have asked for specific prayer requests so here are a few:
September is right around the corner. Graham's first birthday would've
been on the 23rd. My emotions are already quite fragile as the anticipation
of this date draws near It's going to be really hard.
Please just say extra prayers for me during the next several weeks. Pray for
comfort and a sense of peace that we know can only come from the Lord. But also pray
for extra patience, extra laughs, and energy.
His headstone is also due to be completed by the beginning of September as
well as his memory trunk. We are so grateful to have these things completed
as we want to continue to memorialize Graham, but again it's the brutal reminder
of his absence...of the finality of his life on earth.
Finally, please talk to me... Please ask me how I am doing with my journey through grief
but also what's new in my life. Ask me about James and Lauren and how tutoring
is going. Ask me how many McDonald's cokes I've had that week (okay, maybe don't ) ;)
Tell me things you remember about he looked, when you remember
seeing him last...don't be afraid of making me cry. Sometimes I will, but that's okay.
Don't feel badly about it. I don't mind offers a great sense of continued
healing. Some my greatest moments of encouragement have been when
people have told me what they remember about Graham or that they
think of him often. It makes my heart swell and my spirit soften knowing that others
still think of him and remember him. And I want to hear what's going
on in YOUR lives....I don't want it to be all about me and my sorrow. You are
important to me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you...for your prayers, your notes, and your continued
thoughtful gifts. ...THANK YOU! We are humbled and amazed by the prayers and
support we have received. I would love to do a blog post
sometime on the amazing, thoughtful things people have done for us...for me. It's
really quite amazing. You are all really Jesus-with-skin-on friends.
We love you all...more than you will ever know and you hold such a special,
special place in our hearts.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Living....'s been 2 whole months since I've updated the blog. A lot has happened since then and yet a lot has stayed the same. We have been keeping very busy doing fun, summery things and I am grateful for that. I am also grateful for summer time for two other reasons: water and sunglasses. They are the two perfect ways to disguise tears and for that, I am very grateful. When James suspects I may be teary eyed he makes me pull down my sunglasses and says, "Mom, let me see your eyes." It is sweet and sad all at the same time.
Here are some things that have kept us busy....water balloons, many trips to the park and pool,
lots of time outside pretending to fight fires, maintain farms, play baseball, soccer,
basketball, tennis, sidewalk chalk, bike riding, garden maintenance, fishing, playing with cousins and friends, soccer camp, the 4-H fair...
James and Lauren are doing so well. They are just fantastic kids...not only do I love them with all my heart, but I thoroughly enjoy them. They make me laugh and they make me
smile with their funny comments, their snuggles, their hugs and kisses, and their love for us, for each other, and for Graham. James is starting Pre-K next Wednesday
and I can hardly believe it! I'm even more emotional about it than I anticipated I would be. I am so excited for him to go and learn and meet new friends, but it's one more
step toward growing up, toward not needing me the way he always has....

I'm looking forward to spending some special time with Lauren while James is at school. She so thoroughly enjoys one-on-one time with us. I plan to do lots of fun things with her. I also get scared about staying busy and keeping myself occupied. When I have just one of the kids with me it seems to be an even larger reminder of what is missing...
our Graham. I'm nervous about this transition stage, but am going to do my best to use my time to invest purposefully in Lauren.
Here are several pictures that show bits and pieces of what we have been doing this summer...
I will try and start doing a better job updating the blog so you don't have to read an entire
BOOK when I do update ;)

We took James to the rodeo! What a treat that was for him! And, we had "special" seats which
made it even more spectacular! We had such a great time with him
Riding a pony at the fair...

Sitting on tractors while waiting for the rodeo...

Riding rides at the fair in the fun....

James "teaching" me how to fish...hilarious! :)

A lot of snuggle time with the 3 of us...

Dress up...

James going off the diving board without floaties. He is SO big!

Swim lessons...

Soccer camp...

Swimming at Grandma & Grandpas....

Fishing at the pond....we caught a fish almost every time we cast the line.

Beach fun...

I will update soon on how I'm doing with life...with my grief journey...
I hope you are all doing well and enjoying your summer!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Many of you have probably already seen this picture...Isn't it amazing?! A lady in Australia writes names in the sand of babies who have gone to be with Jesus. It's breathtaking and what I think of when I dream of Graham being in paradise. I have wanted to go to Australia my entire life. Now, my dream is to stand on the beach at Mullaloo Point in Western Australia where my precious boy's name was written in the sand at sunset.

I have promised an update for quite some time and I apologize that I'm just now getting to it. I feel I have been open and honest with my emotions as ugly as they have been from the beginning almost 5 months ago, but I seem to be hitting a point where I'm not as comfortable sharing the nitty-gritty ugliness of my grief. Sometimes because I can't believe I'm still here...and to be quite honest, I rarely have words to express the thoughts and feelings that I still battle with daily...hourly at times. This post will probably jump all over the place as do my thoughts, but this is where I am.

The ache that is still so present in my longing for Graham still has no words. I feel as though a minute doesn't pass when I have not thought about him...most times still with sadness that he is not with us making sweet memories, wearing swim trunks, putting everything in his mouth, trying to crawl, helping celebrate holidays and family birthdays. But there are also times when I think of him and find myself smiling. I have such wonderful, precious memories with him in his 14 weeks of life. They say (and I believe) that losing someone you love is the greatest emotional wound possible. And that losing a child is the greatest of those wounds. Therefore, I try and remind myself that this terrible place that I'm at is "ok" and "normal" and again, that I won't be
here forever.

I still struggle with the death of my hopes and dreams that I had not only for Graham, but for our family...for James and Lauren. I don't want to accept that I will live with this gaping hole for the rest of my life. Not only was I forced to bury my precious little boy, but I buried bible songs I would have sung, little clothes, and his first day of school. Luke buried the baseball glove, playing catch and watching him grow to be a man. I've lost a great deal of my innocence about life. I miss when life seemed a little more black and white and not so gray. I miss when answers were simple. I miss when overwhelming to me used to be wondering when I was going to have a chance to take a shower and shave my legs (not really that petty, but I think you get it :) ) I miss the overall happiness and joy I used to feel about/toward life. I just miss the way things used to be...

I'm dealing with ugly, new emotions that arise from the depths of my being. My emotions are unpredictable and therefore often times embarrassing. I'm trying to move past my anger and bitterness knowing that I cannot continue to heal as long as they are this prevalent and yet it's so's brutal. Everything has two sides and it is a really tough balancing act. I want people to talk to me about the kids, me, life...anything other than my broken heart, but at the same time I want people to ask me how I'm doing with this whole grief thing, to talk with me about Graham, because I'm afraid he will be forgotten. And I'm not ok with that... I want to know that people are drudging through the mud with me, and not keeping a safe distance. I suppose I want fellow travelers on my road of misery. This probably sounds awful, but if you are walking with me or have experienced any grief, it probably needs no explanation. The best thing you could ever say to me is, "I feel your pain," or "This is awful," or just listen. I have all the head knowledge I feel like I could possibly have, but right now there is a big disconnect between what my head knows and what my heart feels and believes.

I try and brace myself for the "firsts" such as obvious milestones like holidays or monthly birthdays, but often times I am blindsided by other things that cause me to fall into a heap, usually figuratively, but sometimes in reality as well. Each date gives me a cause to grieve and a fresh awareness of our loss. We were driving to my nephew's birthday party over the weekend and I cried...a lot...because I will never have an 8th birthday party for Graham or buy him tee balls. He will never watch us make homemade popcorn or be the victim of James' brutal squirt gun target practice. My entire life has changed...and I don't like it one bit (the change). Although I believe daily we can make a choice to choose life, it's not easy. And some days and times are
much more difficult than others.

Right now I also feel as though I didn't/don't want to be a sweet sacrifice if it means I lost my Graham and am at risk of losing other people in my life. This isn't what I prayed least I didn't think it was. If this is part of the deal then I want out. We dedicate our babies and pray for them. Why in all of God's love for me was saving my Graham outside His reach? I understand that our children are a gift from God, but to actually believe that to the extent where I must accept that His plans were different than ours and that Graham would be taken from this earth is simply mind boggling. I'm having a tough time letting go of the past.
God's timing seems wrong to me.

I'm learning that my emotions, even the intense ones, are horrible but won't kill me as I once thought. I'm learning that I can be vulnerable and real...and live to tell about it. Although I know I won't always be in this place, I'm here

I read this piece in a book and it summed up my emotions so well:
Real grief is not easily comforted. It comes like ocean waves rushing up the sand,
subsiding back, only to roll in again. These waves vary in size, frequency, and intensity. Some
are small, lapping up around the feet. Others are stronger; they foam the water around you and cause you to stagger. Then there are the overwhelming waves with an undertow that can turn your world upside down and drag you out into the deep waters.

For those of you who are reading this, please pray for us...all of us as we are
still looking face to face with our ugly reality each day. Pray for grace and peace, patience and understanding, hope and joy. I do believe God ordains all things for His glory and our good, and for the good of Graham too.
Thank you again for walking this journey with us.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Everyday...

I wanted to give a brief glimpse into a few things we've been doing here in the Carpenter household over the last several weeks...we have been very busy!

You can imagine the anxiety that filled the weeks and days before Easter...our first "real" holiday without our Graham. The thought of celebrating without him was devastating and very emotional. Knowing that I was not buying him and James matching Easter outfits gave me a constant pit in my stomach. I had thought of all of the things I would have filled his Easter basket with if he were here. It was so hard to know what to do...I didn't want to get him an Easter basket and yet I didn't want to NOT get him one...again, it just feels he's being forgotten. I spent a lot of time out at his grave that day and wrote him a long letter. I am grateful for the meaning behind Easter because it is because Jesus died and rose again that gives us the hope of seeing Graham again someday and yet (I feel) it's the same God that didn't remind Graham to breathe on January can imagine my many emotions during this time even as I recall it several weeks later. After James opened his Easter basket he said, "Mom, I bet Graham got an Easter basket in heaven and he's probably going to church just like us." He is so precious in the way he remembers and thinks about Graham.

We had an emotional, but nice time with the kids...watching them open their Easter baskets and hunt for eggs with their cousins and be reminded of the true meaning of why we celebrate Easter. Reminding James and Lauren too that because of His death and resurrection they will get to see their precious Grammie again too...

Who told this little man he could get so big? Oh my goodness, he looks so handsome
and grown up! This was at his preschool program, but I couldn't get the picture to move down with the others. After about 8 failed attempts, I decided it would have to stay right where it is!

We colored many Easter eggs, and a cute little striped shirt of Lauren's. (oops!)
And we ate a lot of eggs...


We have made a few trips to the fire station

James went the first time with just Luke and it was a neat experience for him. They were all so kind and accommodating. They let him do and see just about everything. He wears his firefighter outfit often and puts out fires with the house hose usually every day...

Lauren got in on the action the next time, but I didn't have my camera with me.
We went to the circus...

They were standing in line to ride the elephant. It was very neat. The circus was

great! We had great seats and were able to see the animals closely. I'm not going to lie, I had my
escape route all planned out in case the tigers or lions escaped. It involved Luke distracting them as we ran :) No really...I did have an escape route. They didn't get out though and we didn't need to use my plan...
James' Spring Preschool Program

Doesn't this picture just make you laugh?! I mean, if they were going to have him be a flower, couldn't they have given him like a blue or yellow flower! Pink...really? :)

My parents came to watch James' big performance and he was so proud!

The kids are doing well....we are spending lots of time outside playing in the sandbox, riding bikes, gardening, playing in the hose and just about everything else. What neat kids I have if I do say so myself! :)
They are so excited about our vacation to Florida. We are going to Disney (I've never been) and Gatorland. I'd like to take them to the beach as well, but we'll see how things are going down there. It is a very bittersweet time for us. We are so excited to get away and make some precious memories with James and Lauren and yet so saddened that Graham is not going to experience these memories with us. Please pray for me during this vacation and on Mother's Day. I'm thankful not to be home where I am even more surrounded and reminded of what we have lost, but will still have an incredibly emotional day. I'm so grateful for my 3 precious children...but I do wish that all three were here with me.

I will do an update on dealing with my life and grief. So many of you ask for updates, but the emotions that are involved in sitting down at writing out my jumbled thoughts and emotions is quite daunting. The last 3 weeks seem to have been some of my most difficult yet. I will update you all very soon! I hope you enjoyed our update on the kids. And again, please say extra prayers for us while we are away!

Love you all!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A New Season...

My earthly angels...

I hardly know where to begin as I write to all of you... I must thank you all again for your continual prayers and thoughtful notes, lyrics to songs, books about how to cope with grief, meals, toys for the kids, and the special things you have sent for just me...whether it has been something to pamper myself, a McDonald's Coke, or a special piece of jewelry that has Graham's name engraved on it. Thank you for inviting us over for dinner or dragging me out to dinner (girls). It is such an important part of our healing. Again, words cannot adequately thank are all part of our journey...fortunately and unfortunately...

This post is going to be long...and full of a range of emotions...I'm preparing you now (don't say I didn't warn you!) ;) I have wanted to update it sooner and more frequently, but seem to have so little time when I can emotionally invest in typing it has felt so here it is...lots of it...Graham would have been 6 months today. I can hardly believe it.

Here's the answer to the dreaded question... How am I? I'd like to say that I'm "better" than I was almost 11 weeks ago when Graham left us, but I've tried to be honest with you all up to this point, so why stop now huh? It's horrible...awful...and in so many ways it's getting worse. The shock is still there many times, but the numbness has faded which makes the ache even more overpowering. Life is moving on...James, Lauren, Luke and I have gotten into a new routine. It is so hard and yet I know we must. We have to get out of bed each day and do life. The memories that we continue to make with James and Lauren are haunted by the thoughts of what could have been...Don't get me wrong please, James and Lauren are the loves of my life...nothing can or will ever change that, but my mother's heart still aches and longs for Graham. I know so many things that should make me feel "better." For instance, although I know I will see Graham again someday and it gives me a glimmer of hope, it doesn't "do it" for me. Although I know nothing can be greater than heaven, in my mind...being with me...his mom...his dad...James and Lauren and everyone else who adored him...nothing could possibly better. I'm hopeful that someday I will have more comfort in those things, but right now I want him...HERE...WITH ME...We are getting out more...doing things with friends...and it's been good...very good. It's always emotional when I come home and put the kids down for naps or bed and I'm alone.

Here we are 76 days later...on what would have been Graham's half-birthday. It's hard for my fingers to type that and to see through my heavy tears. I sobbed last week thinking about giving Graham rice cereal and knowing that every time I would shut the spout of the cereal box, it would probably have sent a puff of dry rice cereal to scatter on the counter. I wish so much I was cleaning up puffs of Graham's rice cereal right now. I'm sure he would have had a tooth or two...we thought for sure we felt one coming through right before he died and we laughed because James had his first tooth by 4 months. I will never see his little legs in shorts, or hear him giggle and see him splash in the kiddie pool. He never even got to go on a walk in the stroller. I wonder how much he would have changed. His hair was starting to get lighter. He was so sweet and pleasant...would he have started to like riding in the car? Probably not...he loved human interaction and touch. What would he have thought of the outdoors? Surely he would have loved them as much as his brother and sister. So many unknowns...

It seems that everything right now has two sides...we are doing a lot of fun things with James and Lauren and it's great...for them and for us...but even between the laughs and the smiles, there's the ache...All of you know of James' love for farm animals...especially cows....I had dreamed up taking all three of the kids out to see the cows this spring. That may seem funny to some of you, but the fact that Graham will not experience the sound of their loud moos that always seem to startle us and of course their smell, just rips my heart into more pieces. Many of you have asked if the warmer weather has been good and although it has because we love to be outside...again it's just a reminder of the seasons moving forward...and our shattered dreams. All of the things I thought we were going to be doing WITH Graham not with Graham in mind.

I still find myself plagued by questions as I replay that Wednesday and the days prior to that over and over again....I wonder if I missed anything...I'm so grateful that I didn't worry about cleaning up the mess from prepping dinner that afternoon. I thought about it but I wanted to just play and talk with Graham before I left. Silly boy wasn't interested in nursing that afternoon because he just wanted to look up at me and smile with his big, brown eyes. He played a little game with me...he would stare up at me and I could feel him just watching me and the second I would look down and smile at him, he'd get so excited. He'd kick his little legs and move his arms and make all sorts of blessed noises. I can see it and hear his sounds clearly. We'd play it over and over again. I'm so grateful I have those precious memories of just the two of us...and the late nights when we would snuggle and chat after everyone else went to bed especially with just the Christmas tree lights lit. Our life is just so different than it was. I know you've heard me say that hundreds of times and it hardly sums it up...but it is. I feel like I'm part of that old movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Or that I'm watching a bad Lifetime movie. It feels so out of body. My emotions are still so fragile and I cry so frequently. There are seemingly endless amounts of kleenex everywhere. Mostly used...some seems that every time I put on anything with pockets, there are wads of kleenex in the pockets. Our grief is all encompassing. I have a hard time looking at people in the eye because I don't know what to say...and I know they don't either. This obviously creates very awkward moments socially. And normally, I don't feel awkward...I love talking with's just amazing how much our loss has changed our surroundings.

The kids are doing well...they are enjoying the warm weather. We've already had many trips to the park, Tractor Supply, to see the cows, playing in the sandbox, riding bikes, and washing the van. They are just the best! They adore each other and love each other's company. They have many hugs, kisses, and I love you's for each other and for us every day. They both still talk frequently about how much they miss Graham and can't wait to see him. James has had concerns about who is tucking Graham in to bed and that tears me up...Lauren waves to his picture when she goes to bed...bless her heart. I wish I had their innocence.

Right now it seems that sorrow is my dominant emotion. I pray that in time it will become a part of my life but not my life. This new life with these new circumstances have required new adjustments, lots of growth, and constant struggles. Through this we are praying that we can begin becoming hopeful that life still can be good, although never the same as it was before or what we ever dreamed it would be. We have so many lost hopes and dreams...answers are missing. Large parts of our hearts have been ripped apart knowing they will never be completely repaired. Life is so fragile...

I find myself imagining our own story fitting into some greater scheme. I'm sure the half of
it which we may never fathom or even know. I do not see the bigger picture, but I have to choose to believe there is one and that our loss is part of some wonderful story God authored. I wonder about how my experience with loss will be able to help someone someday. Although I do not understand it and often times do not "feel" like it, I must believe that God is working toward an ultimate purpose and using our tragedy to that end. I have to believe that...otherwise it seems that this pain and hurt is for nothing. And that....I simply cannot bear.

Please continue to pray for us as we continue moving forward. Pray that we will continue to know how to answer questions James and Lauren may have. Pray for my emotions....the tears take such a toll on my physically and emotionally. It's just exhausting. Please continue to pray for Luke and I together that we will remain patient and understanding when feelings are abnormally sensitive and nerves are worn. We both miss Graham so much and although we
have laughed together many times, we also find ourselves wishing we were laughing without any reserve.

I'm going to leave you with something Luke emailed to me this morning. Love this guy...
I can’t really deal with it… sin robbed us of so much – but I have to find something to focus on… to be honest I can only think of what it will be and those who have gone thru this before us. God was enough when everything was good – now it seems like He’s gone. What we have to remember – even though it’s hard and we just want Graham – is that this is God’s specialty. He came to restore and comfort and fix what sin has destroyed. “blessed are those who mourn.” I can’t say it’s all the time and I surely can’t quantify it, but it does feel like God is slowly but surely putting feeling back into my numb body… God is not a tame lion and i cannot wait to see Him unleashed as sin and its effects are finally gone and sorrow is no more."

Please continue to pray for us. We love you all so much and are so truly grateful for you.

Here are a few pictures that I hope bring you smiles as they do me...

It was really tough to get pictures with and of the kids without Graham but we did it and I'm so grateful for them! They are both getting so