Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ashes, Ashes...

Ring around the rosie. Pocket full of posies. Ashes. Ashes. We all fall down.

Today marks the one year anniversary since my daughter's body became ashes.

Mike carried her in her little basket and put her in the crematorium. I screamed. I screamed. How could we be doing this to the child we loved.

That whole evening I thought about her. I thought about her flesh melting from her bones. The little heart necklace made of metal getting hotter and hotter and burning her sweet flesh. Her bones getting so hot they could not take it anymore and they crumbled beneath the heat. Why were we doing this to a child we loved.

I`m glad we did so much ourselves even if it was horrible and painful. Dressing my dead child is one of the worst things I have ever done. Holding her hand while she died was worse.

Samuel picked out the dress that she wore. He always liked to pick out her dresses and this was something he could do for the little sister he loved so much. Turns out he made a good choice. He chose one with a matching hat and we kept the hat instead of cremating it so we could remember the pattern of the dress she wore. The only other time she wore that little flowered dress was to a friend`s wedding in the spring of 2011. Before our life turned upside down and inside out.

So Eva is cremated. Burned. Ashes.

All of my sweet baby, scraped up into a little pewter horse that was meant to be a piggy bank for a living girl, never an urn for a dead one.This little horse sits on Eva`s shelf. Next to her picture. Unless people look closely at the engraving, not many suspect that this little horse holds a piece of my heart.

And today, one year later, here I am with all my impotent RAGE burning within me as not one single person remembered that it was the day Eva was cremated. The last day that I held her body was a year ago today. I looked at everyone with their smiling faces and not one person remembered. I probably wouldn't have remembered either, if it hadn't been my daughter.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Ray of Light-part 2

I know many of you are wondering what our ray of light is, so I will try to tell you a bit about it.

There is still so much that is confidential at this time that I can only give you broad strokes.

We have had, at one point, 2 living little girls in our home, although I only ever write about the one I miss so much. Our sweet Eva.

When Eva got sick and was hospitalized, the other little girl, who is a relative of Mike's, couldn't stay with our family due to regulations. This was probably a good thing as our family was in shambles last summer.

Eva died in August but we decided that we still wanted to open our hearts to this little girl, J.

J moved back in with us in October 2011. I kid you not, it has been very, very difficult to parent and love someone else's little girl when mine is so obviously missing.

Also, my empathy for her bio parents went out the window. I would cut off my arm and run naked through the streets if it meant getting my girl back. I would do anything, anything, jump through all the hoops, if it meant I could hold my darling again. So when people say they want their child back but then don't jump through hoops to get her back, even if those hoops are unfair, then my empathy is gone, gone, gone. I don't care what your life was like as a kid. There comes a time when you have to take responsibility for yourself!

The possibility of adopting J has been on the table from the beginning but it was very distant. Therefore, my heart also had to remain protected and distant.

In July 2012 we found out that the possibility of adopting little J just got significantly more real. That's when I knew that she would likely become our other daughter, but it was still a matter of time.

We had to wait 30 days for her parents to appeal, or not, the court's decision. 

We have waited the 30 days. We have not heard from anyone whether there was an appeal or not. I have talked to the bio mom who says they have not appealed. I'm going to choose to believe her.

I am going to post this in hope and faith that all will be ok. And, if it's not, I hope I have not divulged too much here.

I also feel like I need to add here that little J in no way, shape, or form eases my grief about Eva. In many ways it has actually complicated my grief and made it harder as it feels like other people think we have a little girl anyway, so Eva seems to matter less.

More about our Ray of Light to come when I know more...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A little ghost.

There has been a little ghost running around my house for the last few days.

We have friends visiting. Their daughter is 2 months younger than Eva and petite like she would have been.  We used to nurse our babies together when they were itty-bitty. We were both so happy to have a daughter.

We were at the beach with our families a few days ago and there were my kids and there was little M running around and it was like Eva was there with us. Not the imagined Eva that accompanies me everywhere but actually right there.

I know little M is not Eva but it's like a ghost anyway. Normally I can see little girls around that are close to Eva's age and I can seperate them into the 'not my daughter' category. Look at them for a few moments and reach inside my chest to grab my heart and wrench it a little but know that even if my daughter had lived she would have looked different than those other little girls. They are not my daughter.

But little M twists my heart in a strange way as she struts around in her tiny jeans.  As she plays naked in the sand. As she throws her bowl of food on the ground whilst sitting in Eva's high chair at our table. The high chair we've kept because we like it so much and because we like to have Eva's chair at the table and because we know so many people with small children that it gets used alot-and stabs me in the heart almost every time cause we should be using it for Eva and finding another solution for these other kids. Whew! Run-on sentence.

And yesterday I picked her up for the first time and she squirmed to get away. Definitely not my daughter. I held her for a few minutes and she stared at me with angry eyes that gradually shifted to laughing.

Not my daughter, but a little ghostie nonetheless.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One year down.

And here we are. Unbelievably. 1 year 1 day since my little girl died. And it still sucks.

Yesterday was exhausting. But ok. The kids watched Cars: the movie in it's entirety before noon.

Although somewhere in there I also read them stories and coloured trees with them and made hot cocoa.

 I spoiled them. Because I wanted to spoil Eva.

They asked for stories. I read em stories. They asked for hot cocoa. We got out the hot cocoa in the summer. They wanted to eat lunch outside. We ate lunch outside. Partly it was easier to just do whatever they wanted than to say 'no'. Partly I wanted to read to Eva, make hot cocoa for Eva and feed her lunch outside so they got spoiled because I couldn't spoil their sister.

In the evening family came over and we planted 2 trees for Eva on our property. 1 flowering plum that is gorgeous pink in the spring and 1 flaming maple which is gorgeous red in the fall, just in time for Eva's birthday.

We had a hot dog roast afterwards. And marshmallows. And Owen wanted another one when he's only allowed one. I told him he could have Eva's. Another sweet concession.

All in all, considering what a super crappy day it was, it wasn't too bad. Strangely enough.

And now we enter the two months where there are no memories of Eva, other than me pregnant, and last year's wailing grief.  But I remember being pregnant with her. And I remember the anticipation we had to meet our first and only daughter.

Who knew that a scant 10 months later she would be lying cold in my arms in ER. Who knew my baby would die in a room full of 10-15 medical personnel and that they would be unable to save her. Who knew I'd be screaming her name and begging God for my daughter. Who knew I'd hold her in my arms and yell out to the nurse 'she's breathing' only to be informed that those are dying gasps.

And so here we go again. Entering year two without my sweet girl. And it still sucks and hurts and sometimes I'd like to punch someone. But who? Who?

One year down. How many more to go?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Eva's Ride

Today was a sweet day, well, bittersweet anyway.

When Eva was hospitalized she had to stay 5 hours away from home. Ronald McDonald House was there for us with a home away from home.

For the past few weeks we have been organizing a bike parade, to raise money for Ronald McDonald House, in Eva's honour.

Today was the day!

So many people came out with their decorated bikes and their smiles and support. It was so amazing to see.

A couple of bikes stood out in particular, for me. One ridden by our pastor and one ridden by a friend's little girl. Abigail's bike had a picture of Eva on the front to decorate her bike. The only time this morning where tears came to my eyes was when I saw that little picture. I wish so much my own little girl could have been riding today too.

Pastor Brian`s bike was a hit with all the kids (and grown ups).

Abigail and her bike.

Mike`s dad spent alot of time with the grandkids while we were getting ready!

Oma helped out too, and enjoyed some coffee, thanks to Dale`s thoughtfulness.

Water was donated by Co-op Marketplace.

Diamond Willow Restaurant donated 300 hot dogs and buns, and a chef to cook them up!

 Here`s the chef just waiting for the crowds...

Butterfly, the therapeutic clown from our local hospital came out with her cotton candy machine! So there was plenty of food, water and cotton candy for everyone! Yum!


Friends Katelyn and Owen getting ready for the big ride!

Sunflowers for our little sunflower!

...and they`re off!

Theodore on his motorcycle

Vincent pedalling hard with his training wheels

...and our biggest boy, Samuel, racing the loop as many times as he could!

Two friends, Meranda and Alana, organized a sidewalk chalk drawing area for tired riders! So fun!

My favourite girl`s name in this photo.

The star of the show, we miss you so much sweetie.

We raised over $4000 for Ronald McDonald House Northern Alberta!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Beauty from Ashes.

So I have a confession to make. This is not an idle confession, even though it may appear that way to some of you.

The pain hurts a little bit less now than it did 11 months ago. But I clutch at the pain and hold it tight as if the pain will keep me close to Eva or Eva close to me. Because pain is all I have to hold onto. Losing Eva is pain. And I know that Eva is also life and love but it feels like a betrayal to her to not have the constant pain of the loss of her. As if holding onto the pain will bring my treasure home to me, somehow.  But nothing, nothing will bring my little princess home...Not the tears I cry for her daily, not the joy I have in holding her living brothers, not the Hope we hope for, and not the ray of light who is building a room in my heart.  Nothing. One day I will go to her, and my prayer is that when I go to her, she will also come to me...

But nothing will bring her home to me now, and only God can heal my heart.

Now there is the real question. Do I want God to heal my heart? Do I really want to let Him in and let Him heal me? Or do I want to hold onto the pain of losing Eva? Who would choose pain over healing? Ah, knowing with my head and truly giving it up to Him are two completely different things. Completely.

And I am not ready. Not ready to give my pain to the One who can heal me. Not ready to hold onto love and let Him take the pain of her sweetness. Not ready to see the Beauty from Ashes. No, not ready. Not ready to rejoice in other people's daughters simply because they were created by God. Not ready to look at little girls and not wish that mine was playing there too (and yet there is a subtle shift here because now I can (mostly) wish my daughter was there as well as when all I could wish before was instead of - ah, who knows the dark thoughts on the surface of my mind as I watch your innocent daughters play). Not ready to see the Beauty from ashes. However I am ready to admit that there is a possibility of Beauty from Ashes. Not ready to dance among the ashes (never will be) but ready to admit to the possibility that there is Beauty to be found amongst the ashes.

Ah, ashes. That is another topic in and of itself here. The ashes that are and are not my daughter. The ashes on our bookshelf that elicit both sympathy and repulsion from others. Ashes. Beauty from Ashes. Is it possible? Can there be beauty from the death of such a sweet one? Can there be true joy again? Not just the fake happiness that I put on like a garment for everyone else to see when inside my heart is black and swollen with grief.  When inside it clenches and squeezes with love and pain and desire for a child I will never hold again, as long as I draw breath.

Is there room for true joy? For true beauty? From Ashes?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

This time last year...

This time last year...this time last year...this time last year...this time last year.

This thought has been a constant companion for me for the last year. This time last year Eva was born, this time last year we were happy, this time last year Oma gave Eva a necklace for Christmas, this time last year I was worried about Eva not gaining weight, this time last year we took her to a pediatrician, this time last year we were in PICU, this time last year we were doing the work-up for a heart transplant, this time last year we had hope, this time last year we were living at Ronald McDonald House, this time last year the doctors let us come home (home!!!) with Eva (oh the joy of it!), this time last year we took Eva to see her brothers play soccer, this time last year we took Eva to church again, this time last year we picked Saskatoon berries with our friends on our land...for the life of me I cannot remember if I gave Eva a taste of a Saskatoon berry fresh from the bush, and warmed by the sun (one of the best tastes on earth). I don't know why I long to know if I gave her a taste of the Saskatoon berries or just seems like something I could have done, but might not have. I remember thinking that ,oh, she would have lots of time to eat Saskatoon berries, so I think I never gave her a taste...

This time last year my circle of friends was much larger (and smaller) than it is now. I had friends that have left me, or I have left them, or we have left each other. Unable or unwilling to chart new territory with the person I am now.

But, oh, I have new friends too. New friends that are united to me in the grief and grieving of their children. Old friends that have stuck it out with me and who are much larger in my life than they were before. Before I was the me that I am now. The me that looks very much like the me I used to be but who is no longer that person.  And so this time last year...the future looked so much more promising than it does this time this year...and yet there is also Hope.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  (Jeremiah 29:11) and so I choose to trust the Lord. Choose to follow Him and give Him my heart. And while this verse is very difficult for me to wrap my mind around when my daughter died. My daughter died! Why my daughter Lord? What plans for a hope and a future did you have for her? Where is her hope and future, O God?

But she is in Heaven and is more alive than I am. Angels tuck her in and she has playmates as she waits expectantly for her mom to come Home to her. She is not missing me, it is I who am missing her, missing her more than anything in the whole world...

How I long to hold you and kiss you my sweet, how I long for your smiling eyes and to give you a Saskatoon berry that the boys had picked for you. The boys miss you so much too, my treasure.

And still I choose to trust. As difficult as it is. I choose to trust. As shaken as my faith is, as sinking as I feel, I choose to trust you Lord.

That through all this craziness You know what You are doing, as impossible as that feels. Because often I wonder, God, do You really know? Because, God, there is so much hurt and pain in the world. So many people crying out to You and yet you appear to be silent? Why God, Why? And I know I'll never know the answers to these questions this side of Heaven and when I get there will I even want to know? And so, until Heaven, I choose to trust. In my weakness and in my despair I choose to trust. When I am weak and beaten, when my enemies rise up against me I choose to trust.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


So here we are in August. The month I hate the most and the tears have come unbidden and uncalled.

I remember all the hope we had at the beginning of last August. The coming home and the excitement to be in my own house again. Eva was home and now she's Home.

This August is so much different. We are approaching the end of the first year without Eva and my emotions run the gamut. We've had some really good news in our family recently but I feel that while I'm not focusing on some things anymore, the uncertain quicksand of my early grief has returned with a vengeance and I don't know who I am again. 

My grief for Eva has surged again and I know I'll manage to crawl my way out of this pit again too but I just miss her so much. I remember her sweet, smiling face and the joy that exuded from her eyes when she smiled. I just wish so bad I could hold her again and see her smile at me and see her walk in the grass outside.

I guess I'll always hate August.

The month death stole my daughter from me.