There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Friday, December 11, 2009

My sleeping babies

Having this precious baby...

reminds me of when Mark was a baby.

I love her.
I love him.
I miss him.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thank you Abigail!!!

Thank you to the wonderfully sweet, beautiful and talented Abigail Kraft for giving me such an awesome blog makeover!! I absolutely love it! Please visit her website here. She not only does web design, but she is also an incredible artist as well.

Abigail is a member of the Kraft Family...please meet this truly amazing family here. This precious bunch has lived through the loss of three children, and yet, they give God the glory for all that they have and all that they have been through. Mother, Lynnette, has written a book titled, "In Faithfulness, He Afflicted Me", and I have read it three times! Each time, I am comforted by the words of this loving, Godly woman who not only survived such tragedy, but is living a life filled with joy and happiness with her husband and surviving children. I encourage everyone to read this book, even if you have never suffered a great will gain new perspective on the pain that comes from losing a child.

Again, thank you Abigail!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Meet my husband best friend and the love of my life. Today, we have been married for 12 wonderful years.

We have know each other since high school, but we weren't good friends until college. Once we started to date, I knew that he was the one for me! And, as much as I have ever heard God literally speak to was when He told me that Joe was the one I would marry. In fact, I knew that I was going to marry Joe long before he knew that I was to be his wife! (I find that so funny!) Of course, he figured it out soon enough and we were married in 1997...the year that Joe graduated from college and began teaching elementary music.

Joe is the best daddy! The girls adore him, as did Mark. I always say that he is the "fun" parent of the two of us. Mostly, you will find him wrestling with the kids, teaching them an instrument of some kind, cooking with them making them laugh all of the time! He sometimes acts just like one of the kids!

The first 10 1/2 years of our lives together were almost straight from a fairy tale. It isn't that we didn't have our problems, but the days were full of love and joy with each other, our children and life in general. Mark's death certainly changed our marriage forever. I need Joe now more than ever and I wouldn't have made it this far without him. Sharing this bitter sorrow and the loving memories of our only son has brought us closer than I thought was possible. I am thankful to have this deeper relationship, but sorry for the price tag that came with it.

My husband is far from am I, but he is perfect for me. I look forward to as many more years as God will give us together...loving each other, our girls and longing to see Mark again at the end of this journey.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

If only...

Dear Mark,

If only I could catch a glimpse of you in Heaven right now and see how happy you are...playing with other children, walking with Jesus, smiling and laughing even more sweetly than you did here - maybe I wouldn't be so filled with grief.

If only I could wrap my arms around you and kiss your chubby little cheek again...if only I could walk with you and hold your precious hand in mine -then I might not cry every day.

If only I could hear you say "Mama" again when you needed me and rock you to sleep while you snuggled your green blanket - maybe my heart wouldn't feel so broken.

If only you could be here to hold your new baby be a little brother and a big brother to all of these girls - then I wouldn't have to try to explain to them why you were taken from us and assure them that we will be okay even when I don't believe it.

If only you were here to run to the yard gate and hold it open for us like a little gentleman each time we came home - I wouldn't stop each time I walked through it and picture you standing there with that big grin on your face.

If only I could see you in your daddy's arms again...where you almost always were - then I wouldn't have to see your daddy cry when he looks at your picture or thinks about how much he misses you.

If only you were here to color on the walls and the couch with any crayon or pen that you could throw things away in the trash can that shouldn't have been thrown away (i.e. remote controls and rented movies!) - I wouldn't even be upset. I now cherish the picture that you drew on Maryanna's door with a bright red marker and I hope it stays there forever.

If only you were here, I would be thinking of all of the great little boy toys that I could buy you for Christmas this year instead of welling up with sorrow each time I see toys or clothes that would be just perfect for you.

If only you could just be here for the holidays to celebrate with eat turkey and mashed potatos and all of the pie that you wanted - I wouldn't have to stare at the empty place where you should be and quietly grieve in my heart while everyone else is smiling.

If only God would have allowed you to stay here with us longer than two years - we could have seen you grow into a fine young man, go to college, get married, have children of your own and enjoy your company for many years to come until Daddy and I left the earth BEFORE you...the way that it should be.

I know that none of this will be...but it helps me to imagine it. I know that this world holds nothing for you anymore. I pray that Heaven is everything that I imagine it to be and that your sweet soul is more alive now that it ever was here with us...I want to picture you there instead of your tiny body lying in the grave. It is such torture for me to be separated from your cuddly self.

Our hearts break each day that we live here without you...we are still reminded of you in everything that we do. Fifteen months has been too long to not have you in our arms or hear your voice. It isn't any easier now than it was when you left. I long for this life to pass in the blink of an eye so that we can all be together again forever.

I love you, love you, love sweet baby boy.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

More pictures

Maegan is doing very well...we are all enjoying the miracle of a newborn. Everything about her is so tiny and amazing.
I have been more emotional than usual since she arrived - partly due to postpartum hormones and also because having her just makes us miss Mark a little bit more.
Maryanna, Madison and Macy hold her as often as they possibly can.

We are so thankful for a healthy delivery and that we once again have the privilege of gazing into the beautiful face of a child sent straight from God.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maegan Claire is here!

Our baby girl is here!

Maegan Claire was born at 5:56 pm on Monday afternoon. She weighed 6lbs and 11 oz (the smallest of our five.)

She has the softest, most beautiful dark brown hair and her daddy's olive skin.

Her sisters are very proud! Mommy and Daddy are too!

Thank you for all of your prayers.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Monday, Monday

Monday is the day!!! We will meet our baby girl!!!
Unless she decides to make her appearance before then, I will be induced on Monday, Nov. 2 at 6am. Please keep us in your prayers. Especially pray that our three big sisters will have peace during this time of adjustment...they are so excited, but have been through so much. I want them to feel all of the joy and excitement without the anxiety.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Big Brother

Dear Mark,

Congratulations son! You are about to be a big brother! How I wish that you were in our picture here on earth. I can imagine you sitting next to me there in the grass with your sweet little hands on my belly. How wonderful it would be to have you here to welcome your new baby sister. We are so excited to meet her!

I often wonder if you have already met heaven. Do you know more about her already than we ever will? Has God told you all about her and let you look at her sweet face? Have you seen all of the days of her life...of ours? Do you know when we will all see you again?

Your big sisters miss will always hold a special place in their hearts. You will never be replaced by another are our Mark and there is no other like you. There will never be a day here on earth that we won't long to have you back with us.

I am a little nervous about holding our new baby in my arms. It will bring back such sweet memories of you and how much I loved to rock you and snuggle seems like yesterday. I will sing "You are My Sunshine" to her...just as I did to you not so long ago and I will cry. Will she ever understand our tears? She will grow to play with many of the toys that belonged to that have been packed away since you left us. It will all be so bittersweet.

Yes, you would have been able to teach her so many things if you were here as her big brother...I can only imagine! I long for the day that we will all be together; but until then, we will miss you and give your baby sister a little extra love that she would have received from you.

You will always be my baby boy. I love you.

Looking forward to Forever,


Thursday, October 15, 2009

My box

I didn't wake up this morning expecting the flood of emotions that would hit me. These days, I can usually function better than I had ever expected that I would...mostly it is more about learning how to cope with the loss of Mark, instead of the pain actually lessening. I don't feel that the pain, anger or absurdity surrounding Mark's death has gone away...I only know that I am learning, very slowly, how to manage it. The only trouble with grief is that you never quite know when it is going to spill out of the nice box that has been made to contain it-the place deep inside that forms as a response to deep pain. The place reserved for all of the ugliness and rawness of grief.

My "box" started out plain and always open...tears started my morning, accompanied me all day and were especially intense at night . As the weeks and months pass, I have started to decorate my that it is more presentable in public - a box that everyone is more comfortable with being around. Also, a box that I can take with me when I go out and see precious little boys running around or riding in the shopping carts at the store. The box even comes in handy at home now when I come across one of Mark's toys or lost socks. I have put a lock on my box for just such occasions. Oh, everything in the box is pounding and pushing and trying to get out, but the lock holds it in...most of the time.

Having my cup of coffee and my youngest daughter still in bed, I sat down at the computer to catch up on all of the blogs that I follow. Even with the first blog that I read, I learn that today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Mark doesn't quite fit into this category, however, the pain of losing a child is the same pain. Always different circumstances, different families with different lives, but all with the same, very real pain.

It is true that most of the blogs that I follow have the same element of loss or trial and so, of course, today, most of the posts are tributes to the sweet children who aren't here with us anymore. From miscarriages and stillbirths to medical complications and many parents have suffered the loss of a child. And, as I look at the pictures of their precious children, I see Mark in my mind...laughing, crying, running and hugging. I feel his arms around me and hear his sweet voice saying "Mama". I look over at our family picture that now does not include him sitting in my lap...and I begin to cry. And cry. The lock has failed on my "box" and the lid has been thrown wide open.

I decided to write this post...wanting to do something with all of the sadness, but knowing that there isn't any way that my words can really make anyone understand what it feels like, unless you have been there. As I struggle to make sense of it all, my dear Macy wakes up, climbs in my lap and wraps her loving arms around me...still half asleep and oblivious to the turmoil in her mother's heart. My tears slowly dry and I gather all of the grief that has spilled out and place it neatly in the box once again...until next time.

I love you Mark...I miss you.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bereaved Parents Wish List

Bereaved Parents Wish List

I wish my child hadn’t died. I wish I had him back.

I wish you wouldn’t be afraid to speak my child’s name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that he was important to you as well.

If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child, I wish you knew that it isn’t because you have hurt me. My child’s death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child, and you have allowed me to share my grief. I thank you for both.

I wish you wouldn’t "kill" my child again by removing his pictures, artwork, or other remembrances from your home.

Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn’t shy away from me. I need you more than ever.

I need diversions, so I do want to hear about you; but I also want you to hear about me. I might be said and I might cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child, my favorite topic of the day.

I know that you think of and pray for me often. I also know that my child’s death pains you, too. I wish you would let me know things through a phone call, a card or a note, or a real big hug.

I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over in six months. These first months are traumatic for me, but I wish you could understand that my grief will never be over. I will suffer the death of my child until the day I die.

I am working very hard in my recovery, but I wish you could understand that I will never fully recover. I will always miss my child, and I will always grieve that he is dead.

I wish you wouldn’t expect me "not to think about it" or to "be happy". Neither will happen for a very long time so don’t frustrate yourself.

I don’t want to have a "pity party," but I do wish you would let me grieve. I must hurt before I can heal.

I wish you understood how my life has shattered. I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I’m feeling miserable. Please be as patient with me as I am with you.

When I say, "I’m doing okay," I wish you could understand that I don’t feel okay and that I struggle daily.

I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions I’m having are very normal. Depression, anger, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when I’m quiet and withdrawn or irritable and cranky.

Your advice to "take one day at a time" is excellent. I wish you could understand that I’m doing good to handle him at an hour at a time.

I wish you understood that grief changes people. When my child died, a big part of me died with him. I am not the same person I was before my child died, and I will never be that person again.I wish very much that you could understand – understand my loss and my grief, my silence and my tears, my void and my pain. But I pray daily that you will never understand.
-taken from Compassionate Friends (an organization for Bereaved Parents)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More Thoughts

Do you know what these are??? These are the most amazing, flexible, coolest...I mean, these are the stickiest, messiest pieces of string that I have ever seen. Pieces of rainbow that can decorate just about anything and leave a waxy residue on everything that they touch. However, there is no denying that my children LOVE their BENDAROOS! (a present from Mom and Dad for Madison's 7th birthday this past April. Oh, and we didn't order them from the infomercial...Walgreens has a whole section of those "As seen on TV" things!) Aaaaaaaand, if you notice in the above get 500 of them in one box! Talk about non-stop fun.

It seems that once this "box of fun" has been opened, these wonderful, stick-to-anything strings become stuck to, yes, everything! And not just at the designated arts and crafts area...noooooooo. I find them on the walls, on the table, wrapped around old milk jugs that have been pulled from the recycling container and mostly, I find them stuck in the carpet. Yes, our house becomes one huge BENDAROOS canvas.
Which brings me to my point. Are you under the impression that I am opposed to these silly, over-priced pieces of fun that occasionally take over my house? Does it seem that I would like to just make the box magically disappear? The answer is no...absolutely not!
Honestly, before Mark died, my answer may have been "yes"! It probably would have depended on the day that you asked. With four children around the house...all 7 years and under...things got a little messy around here. Okay, things got a LOT messy around here. And there were definitely days that I would have just loved to have a house that was perfectly picked up and clean. Now, well, I still like a clean house, but I would much rather have a house that has evidence of children. Proof that I am living with three little miracles straight from Heaven.
Toys in every room...crumbs on the floor and even BENDAROOS in the carpet. It is all a reminder that I have children that God has blessed me with. Each dirty sock in the yard, empty yogurt container that didn't get thrown in the trash...every splatter of toothpaste on the bathroom mirror and each and every one of the kids 200 stuffed animals that grace each bedroom...well, they give me perspective like never before. They remind me that three of my children are still here with me!
Yes, I am so glad to have my children's belongings strewn all over the house. I only wish that Mark was still here to participate in the mess. As much as his sister's toys remind me how thankful I am to have them here with me, each of Mark's toys brings heartache. I would give anything to be washing sand from his hair and play-dogh from his shirt, picking up his building blocks that he would carry around everywhere, and cleaning the half-eaten fruit puffs from his high chair...not to mention the "artwork" that he made on the couch with a ball point pen! Oh, those sweet chubby hands that got into so much mischief. How I wish that I could hold them again. How I wish that he was here to hold me.
I miss him.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I wanted to share thoughts about my morning.

The breeze was blowing and the clouds were rolling. I don't normally walk outside with Joe and the girls as they leave for school...mostly I just watch them leave from the window. This morning, I walked them out, helped them get in the car and watched them drive away. I watched them until they drove so far down the road that I couldn't see them anymore. And then, I thought the same thought that I think almost every morning...what if that was the last time that I see my family in this life?

Life can change so suddenly, certainly without our permission or approval. When I think back to the day of Mark's accident, we were just carrying on as usual. Mark had taken his nap, he had eaten his snack and was just being his very active and cute self. It seemed that nothing could have ruined the great time that we were all having. Safe, responsible, in control...laughter, games, bike riding and sunshine. Who knew??? God knew.

Now, life is different. Reality is, well, real. So, each time I tell my husband and children goodbye, I will know that it may be the last time that I speak to them. Each morning, I will continue to watch them drive away and know a little better the pain of what it would be like to live here without them. Ultimately though, I will leave them in the hands of the One who knows them better than I ever will...the One who loves them more than I can...the One who knows every breath that each of us will take in this life...and the One who is holding my son, gazing upon the sweet face that I will see again soon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Good days...Bad days

My baby in the fall leaves...what a happy little guy.

Well, I started this post on you will see, but I just finished it this morning...

Saturday. A great day to reflect on another week that has flown by, it seems. Each day that passes is a day that takes me further away from the Mark of my past to the Mark that I will see once more in my future. Excruciating and exciting at the same time. This life would simply be pointless if we didn't have the promise of Heaven. In fact, as I drove this morning, I played "Finally Home", by Mercy Me, over and over again. It is one of a few songs that can get me so excited about Heaven that I can forget how painful life is right now...even if it is an escape for only a few minutes.

This "one day closer" to eternity is also a day closer to when we get to meet our new daughter. Now, if we could just come up with a name! Yes, it will start with the letter "M". :)

The week was a mixture of emotions. On Wednesday, I had such a good day. Macy and I went to story time at the library, then we played with friends and family at the park and even had some arts and crafts time at a place here in town that provides that for the kids once a month. Normally, I wouldn't put myself in such a position since there would be little boys that would remind me of Mark. This day, I decided to take the chance. And, what was so amazing about this day was the fact that I was able to hold myself together. I am pretty sure that it was the first time since Mark died that I was able to be around other toddler boys and not end up frozen in grief, unable to function. I was around little boys all day long! Honestly, seeing them play and hearing them did bring me the same stabbing feeling that it always does. It actually wasn't easy at all. But, I am so thankful that I am beginning to be able to move through those moments of intense pain a little more quickly that before. And, in between those sad times, I was able to enjoy the company of those that I was with instead of sitting in a fog and wishing that I was at home.

I really did have a good time and I felt refreshed and a bit renewed after we arrived home.

And then, there was Thursday. After such a great day on Wednesday, I was feeling like things were starting to get "easier" for me. It happens every so often from week to week. It was exciting to have had that small bit of relief from the constant sorrow. Throughout this entire last year, if at any time the pain eases a bit, I hold on to it with everything that I've got...hoping that the "okay" feeling will last longer than it did the last time it came around. So, that was how I felt in the early morning.

Later in the day, I was cleaning out some of the many, many things that have accumulated in Mark's room, which we now use as our multi-purpose room. We have long since put away all of his toys and clothes, although we left it painted the cute blue with the tractor border on the wall. We also have a shelf in there with some of his special things. I don't see us changing any of that any time soon.

So, anyway, as I was sorting through the big box that I keep all of my children's special pictures, cards and all of the other things that they create that I cannot bear to throw away, I got to the bottom and found a stack of Mark's things that I had not seen in a long time. His sonogram pictures when I was pregnant with him, the papers that he got from his doctor check ups that have his weight and height, the hospital bracelet that I wore when he was born and even a picture that he colored in Sunday School a few months before he died. Needless to say, I lost it. Big. So big that I was actually hyperventilating from crying so hard. I even went outside and screamed...something that I haven't done in a long time. It all just caught me off guard and it left me feeling so vulnerable and weak. Lately, I have dealt with the grief in small doses...each day, a little here and a little there. This was more like the dam broke and I was being flooded with feelings that I couldn't control.

And so, this is how it is. For me, and for so many who have lost someone so close, although I can really only speak for myself. The smiles in public may come a little more easily, but they are still a way to cover the sadness. I am grateful to now know how to help those in my situation...I only wish that I could have learned this lesson in some other way.
Looking forward to Heaven,

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I actually just found this picture from last summer's vacation. I love it. I am usually behind the camera.
We were at the Grand Canyon and I wouldn't let Mark down, lest he fall of a cliff! I guess that they can't fence the whole thing!

Mark was hardly ever without his pacifier...we didn't care.
My two handsome boys!

This is our "Mark the Shark". We loved that nickname for him last summer. We found these super cute lifejackets and just had to have them. A shark for Mark and a goldfish for Macy.
This is a really difficult picture for me to look at since he was wearing this lifejacket just minutes before his accident. It reminds me how much he loved the water.

Mark was the best little brother ever. His sisters sure do miss him.

What I wouldn't give to be able to give him more "joosh", as he called it, and look into those beautiful brown eyes.
I miss him.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The good...and the not so good

I'll start with the "not so good".

This has just been a cruddy week. Not as though there are any especially great weeks anymore, but there are different levels of what can be considered cruddy. Even when everything in day to day life is going as well as it possibly can, grief doesn't leave...pain doesn't take a vacation...thoughts don't turn off and tears don't dry up. Cruddy.

The only exception to this "not so good week" was Maryanna's 9th birthday on Tuesday. I was reminded all day how our lives changed forever as we became parents for the very first time 9 years before. As anyone who has children knows, the blessing of parenthood far surpasses almost all else in this life.

I am reading a book titled, "Beyond after losing a child". It was written by several women who have all lost children. Reading this and so many other books is a great comfort to me, as are the blogs that I mentioned in my previous post. I read the words on the page and can hardly believe that they describe me in almost every way. They can say the things that I would like to be able to tell my friends and family when I am asked, "How are you?". When I try to describe all that races in my mind, I don't even come close to being able to convey it to others.

For example, here is how these women describe a small part of their grief...

"We were filled with rage and yet we felt hollow. Our eyes brimmed with tears and yet they were empty. We could scream but speech came rarely, if at all. We were in excruciating pain and yet we were numb. Our self-esteem was beaten down and our trust shattered, but there was no one who could console us. There was no place to feel secure. We tried to crawl inside ourselves, but even that afforded us no place to hide. It was if our very being died along with that of our children. We were and remain forever changed."


"The anguish of losing a child pollutes every close relationship. It seeks to destroy our ties to our spouses, to our remaining children, to our parents, to cherished friends, to everyone close to us. Each tie is torn to shreds and brutally examined under a high-powered microscope before it can be pieced back together. In some cases, the pieces will never again mesh and the bond will break. Those relationships that survive will be forever changed because we are changed. We are never the same people we were before the death. The person we become has to learn anew to love and live with those we loved and lived with before, or perhaps to go a separate way. The death becomes a giant black hole in our midst."

I find almost all of this to be very true in my situation. All, with the exception of the strain on my marriage and with my surviving children. In other words, my husband, the girls and I all grieve at different times and none of us are emotionally stable enough to help anyone else in the family, but we have not turned on one another...instead, we now feel safer with each other than I thought was possible. The love that I have for my husband has multiplied. We share the same hurt and the same loss of the son that we love so much. We share in the same hope and promise that we will be reunited with him in the future. Mark's death is definitely not what I would have chosen to strengthen my family and marriage, but God knows.

More thoughts...

As a matter of theology and Bible interpretation, in all of these months, I have not been able to decide what I will believe about Mark's accident and death. Just an accident due to this fallen world that we live in and our imperfect nature? Or, God's will, plan and purpose for our sweet Mark to only be here on the earth two years?

Well, for today anyway, I have decided. I have decided that God knows this emotional torture that we are going through. And, I cannot believe that God would let anyone go through this unless it was a part of His plan and purpose. Even though I believe that God gives us free will to make our own choices and make our own mistakes, when it comes to the finality of death, I think that God is the only one who can make that decision. Even when it comes to evil...murder, etc. Somehow, God is in charge and I choose to believe that Mark was only supposed to be here for two years. No matter what we did or didn't do, it was Mark's time to leave for reasons that we may never know until Heaven. I can accept this more easily that God just allowing it to happen and bringing good from it, even though it wasn't in His plan.

In my case, I choose to believe this so that I can let go of blame and guilt and try and find forgiveness. For myself and for all of my loved ones who were there at the time of the accident. The player in my head that never stops can come up with a new scenario each and every day that will go through another "if only she...", "had he not..., or "we should have...", etc. I can't live with it anymore. And truly, I wish it were as easy to turn the player off as I can make it sound as I write it, but I know that it will take time. In fact, I have to choose every day what voices to listen to and what to believe. Some days it is easier to believe the truth than others.

Well, on to the "good".

Many of you who read this blog actually know me and my family and see us on a regular basis. Some of you know us, but rarely, if ever, see us. And, of course, some of you have never met us. So, this will only be news to some.

We are, by the grace of God, expecting our fifth child in November. Yes, only two months from now. I have had a difficult time deciding when and if to post the news, simply because it is so bittersweet. Bittersweet is an absolute understatement at that.

After Mark died, Joe and I prayed and prayed about whether we should try and bring another child into this world. Our love for children is so great and we knew that it would be such a blessing, but, when? So soon after our loss? Should we try and "heal" some first? Would that even happen? So many questions that really didn't have a good answer.

Mark was my baby...the diapers, the pacifiers, the 24/7 of it all. As that was ripped away from me, all I wanted to do was fill it...anything to ease the pain. The thought of having another baby was about the only thing that brought even an ounce of comfort. Having a child that we would love every bit as much as our other four...and being able to look at that baby and know that he/she wouldn't be in our lives had Mark not died was a glimmer of hope. Since we couldn't have Mark back, we were desperately trying to force ourselves to begin the process of moving on.

So, here we are...about to have our 4th girl! And, no, we have no idea what we are going to name her. :) It is hard to find the balance between missing Mark and looking forward to a precious new child joining our family...those are new issues to deal with in addition to all that deals with Mark's death. However, there are no regrets in this decision and we have found joy in the anticipation of her arrival...especially her sisters! They live for the daily kicks and squirms from my growing belly.

I only wish that somehow, the arrival of our baby girl could somehow erase the pain of losing her brother...I know it isn't so. The happiness and grief will continue to co-exist for the rest of our lives.

And, as I have read several places, when you experience the worst that the world has to offer, your capacity to appreciate the good in increased. So, I anticipate that there won't be many moments that I take for granted anymore. For that, I am thankful.

Thanks for reading,

Mark's Mommy

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My links to "normal"

Here I am, relieved to have gotten through the anniversary of Mark's death. It definitely isn't any easier a year later, just different. There is no "moving on" or "getting through" all of the pain...only missing Mark. Time will forever be frozen for us even though the rest of the world marches on and we too have to live out the rest of our lives here. But, oh, the promise of heaven. When I can focus on the reality of spending eternity with our Savior and with Mark, peace washes over my soul.

Every part of me has suffered for a year and my spiritual being is no exception. It is glaringly obvious to me now where I need to grow in and re-believe so many truths that I never would have doubted until now. Hard to admit and even harder to know where to begin when you feel like you are starting all over.

What I do know is that I treasure the following verses:

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

John 6:66-69

And so, that is where I am. Who else can I turn to but to God? Who else can give me the promise of eternal life and the assurance that my Mark is more alive than he ever was here with us? Only God. Only through the blood of Jesus Christ.

No matter how badly I feel on any given day, I choose to believe all that the Bible says. I don't understand it all, but I don't think that God expects us to.

I want to leave you with a list of many links to the blog sites that have helped me so much this past year. Most of these blogs are written by parents who have lost a child. They have been a lifeline to my sanity in more ways than one. Grief is a lonely place...especially when you can't personally talk to someone who has been almost in the same place as you are.

Through these blogs, I can feel a bit more "normal"...whatever that is...even if it is just for a short time. I see that I am not the only one who is suffering through the loss of a child. In everyday life, I feel pretty isolated in my sadness; that nobody understands what it is really like to be in my shoes. And I suppose most people don't, and that really is a good thing. But, reading the thoughts and feelings of someone who has or is in a similar situation brings comfort.

That being said, I also want to say that I cherish each and every one that I do know who takes the time to listen, even when it makes them uncomfortable and they have no idea what to say. It means so much to know that people care and they are hurting with us as much as someone can who hasn't been through it.

So, if you have time, check out these blogs and pray for these parents as well as for us.

Looking up in the downpour-
Tidbits of a journey... -
Todd Stocker's Weblog -
Sumi's Corner -
Larger than Life -
Nitty. Gritty. -
Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground -
My Charming Kids -

Missing my son,

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Back from vacation

As the month of August begins, I find myself wishing that I could go to bed and not wake up until September. August 4th will be one year since Mark's accident and the 10th will be one year since his death. Both of those days and the week in between were the end of life as we knew it. Getting through his birthday was especially difficult, but no matter how sad it was...night still came and then it was over. A fellow blogger who recently lost his teenage daughter puts it best when he says that his daughter is now a part of his past and his future, even if she isn't a part of his present. I like to think about that and the truth in it. Mark isn't a part of our "present" and there isn't anything that we can do about that. However, he is a part of our future and that is certain.

We have been gone for the last couple of weeks on vacation. New York City, Niagara Falls and some other fun places. The girls had a lot of fun...although they didn't like all of the walking that we did. I guess that I didn't either. Of course, we saw so many little boys that reminded me of Mark and that is always hard for me. I feel safest in my house, away from the world, but most of the time, that is not realistic. It still seems so unfair that he isn't with us anymore. I know that it is my fleshly nature speaking and not the spiritual. I trust my God and that He has everything in control, but it doesn't erase the pain.

I'm not sure how or why we planned this year's vacation at the same time that we were on vacation last year with our girls and our precious Mark, but nevertheless, I had a hard time not thinking about all that we were doing at this time last July. The fact that we were absolutely oblivious to the fact that we were going to lose Mark in just two short weeks just blows my mind. We were seeing the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam and all of the desert in between. That is what is so crazy about just never know what is going to happen tomorrow.

We had so much fun with Mark last was filled with memories and I am glad for that. Although, the sweet memories make me miss him even more. Each picture makes my arms ache for him even more.

I have heard the saying many times that circumstances such as these will either make you bitter or better. Oh, how I want to be better. I wish that I could be better...a better person, a better Christian. Maybe that will come in time. Right now, I am still bitter. It takes no effort to be sad and wallow in self-pity, however, it does take an enormous amount of energy to pull yourself out of depression and the negative thoughts.
I most likely try to do too much of it on my own rather than giving it over to God. And, even though I have let many things go and given them to God over the past year, I have decided that it must be more of a slow process than an "all at once" kind of thing. Two steps forward and one back.

I'm not sure how to let it all go and move forward. Time is still frozen for us as the world keeps spinning and we have to get up and function every day. Each day is like living on the edge of going insane, and yet, there are still so many happy times that I am thankful for. If only I could make sense of it all.

Stick with me as I continue to is happening slowly, but I am confident that as much as one can heal from such a loss, I will. We will...someday.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Son

Happy Birthday Mark...words aren't enough to tell you how much we love you and miss you.

Friday, July 3, 2009

God IS in control

This picture was taken in July of last year...just a few weeks before Mark's accident. It has been so difficult for me to look through the pictures of last summer, because they are what remind me of Mark the most...the way he was growing up into such a sweet and loving little boy.

This is the Mark that I hugged and cuddled every morning after he would crawl out of his crib and come and find me...still with a paci in his mouth. ( the picture, he is holding his paci in his hand because I asked him to take it out and smile!) These are the memories that are so fresh in my mind of all of the joy that came from having our four children here with us.

Maryanna and Madison attended Camp Agape, a children's bereavement camp, this past weekend. We are so thankful that our friends told us about the camp and helped us with all of the details of it. Our girls were able to be with other children who have suffered a significant loss in their lives. They swam, kayaked, rode ponies, did arts and crafts and so much more. They were also able to meet with a counselor to work through more of the pain and grief...something that both of the girls needed.

It was hard for us to leave them for 4 days so far away from us, but we knew that they were in good hands. They were each "buddied" with a teen or adult who was with them 24 hours a day. (and our girls got to be buddied with our family friends who are so involved with the camp and whom our girls love very much!) :)

Joe and I were also able to meet with a wonderful couple from our church this past week...a couple that we consider our mentors. God has put them in our lives to be the voice of sanity for us at this time when nothing makes sense in our minds. They reminded us of God's great love for us, for our children, specifically for Mark. I admit that I have had a hard time feeling God's love for me during all of this and I have had a hard time feeling that God did what was best. How can Mark's death be what was best for him and for us? It is embarrassing to confess that I would ever feel that my love could be better for my children than the love of our Lord, but I think that we just feel that as humans sometimes. Mark was entrusted to us, and I have been angry that God took him back.

These are the thoughts that constantly fill my after day. As time passes, I can begin to distinguish what is truth and what is a lie. But honestly, truths that seemed so clear a year ago, all changed, (in my mind), in an instant when Mark died. It is hard to explain.

Another truth that our dear mentors reminded us of was that even though it may seem contrary to everything that we feel, Mark's death is somehow what is best for us. We may not ever understand it or accept it, but God does know what he is doing. We have to trust that HE knows best. We may be left with the pain of trying to carry on without our precious son here, but Mark is in the presence of Almighty God at this very perfectness. Just thinking about it makes me want to be there right now. I can hardly wait.

Since I have struggled with all that I have believed, I admit that I have even doubted the existence of God, heaven, the truth of the Bible, etc. I don't like to admit that either, but it is the truth. "Before"...I would have been the first to try and encourage someone going through a tragedy that these things happen to everyone and that horrible things don't change who God is, etc., etc., etc. I would have meant every word too. Now, "after", the line between what I "know" and what I "feel" has become so blurred. But, I am happy to say that as the days go by, I am strengthening my faith more and more and I do know that all of God's Word is true. A faith that is built on who God IS and not what I want Him to be or what I want Him to do for me.

What would be the point of living at all if this was all some kind of random occurrence that led to nothingness when we die? What a depressing thought. No, even if I doubt sometimes because of the great pain, I will always believe that there is a God, He loves me, sent Jesus to die for me and that He is in matter what happens in this short time that we call "life".

And, in this short time that we have left...I will miss Mark.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I wonder...

Mark's birthday is coming up and I have been more than a little preoccupied thinking about it. Less than a month away...our little man would have been 3.

I wonder what kind of birthday party we would have had for him...I wonder what kind of toys we would have bought him. I keep seeing the cutest shoes and clothes that would have looked so handsome on him. He was so young while we had him here, but there were so many things that we had already "planned" on him doing as he grew. So many things that we noticed on other boys or in the store that we mentally pictured Mark doing those things or looking that way. I think about what he would be learning about Jesus in Sunday School and at home and all of the little projects of his that I don't have on my refrigerator. I keep reminding myself that he knows more about God that we do now and I find that comforting.

I wonder how much he would be talking these days...I loved the way he said "Momma", especially when we wanted him to say "Daddy". It was a big game to him and it was so funny. He was trying so hard to say his sisters' names and we knew what he was saying...even though it didn't sound much like their actual names. One of his favorite words was "cheese" because he absolutely LOVED the sliced, American cheese. He would eat three in a row if we let him. And, sometimes we did because he enjoyed it so much! But, for the most part, he didn't talk much because he had three older sisters that spoke for him...he just had to point and he got what he wanted. Oh, how we spoiled him.

He would probably be in a big boy bed his tractor room. His Daddy chose the tractor border for his room before he was born and it is so cute. We also painted the room blue...there was no doubt that we wanted that color after so many "girly" rooms.

I wonder how much fun he would be having this week at VBS at church. I see all of his little friends playing and laughing and I picture him there with them...running in the grass, eating snacks, playing on the playground.

How have I changed for the better? How has anyone who knows us changed? I want to know that God is working through our us, in our family and friends...even in people who may not know us well.

Most days, I don't feel like any good has come from this awful accident. The world didn't change, we don't have our son with us anymore and it just stinks! I suppose that more time needs to pass to discover some of God's plan for all of this.

I am trying hard to focus on the girls and how much joy they bring to our lives. Every day is a blessing with them and they are a constant reminder of how good life can be. It has never been a struggle to feel thankful to God for all of the goodness that He brings to my life until now. Now, I know that the blessings and goodness are no less real or "good" than they were before...they just have to compete for a place in my heart amidst the pain these days.

I long for Heaven and it seems so far away...but, then again, we just never know.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You are My Sunshine

Here is my "sunshine" standing in the sunshine.

This picture was taken on Easter of last year. I will let you all know that I have so many more recent pictures of Mark...especially from last summer, but they are so hard to look at that I can't bring myself to post them quite yet.

"You are My Sunshine", is a song that I have been singing to my children from the time that they were born...most especially when they were very small and I rocked them. Macy still likes for me to sing it to her almost every night, although, I have a difficult time getting through it without crying.

As Mark grew to be a toddler, he didn't want to be rocked to sleep much, even though I tried almost every night. I just loved the cuddle time and I knew how fast they grow up. I was still singing this song to him last year, on the rare occasion that he would let me rock him.

Almost every song has a different meaning after someone you love has died. I used to love this song because it told my children how important they are to me. Now, while that is still true, the words mean more than they ever did.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,
You make me happy when skies are gray.
You'll never know dear, how much I love you,
Please don't take my sunshine away.

The other night, dear, while I lay sleeping,
I dreamed I held you in my arms.
When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken,
And I hung my head and cried.

Every night, when I dream about Mark and about holding him in my arms...I miss him.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The wonderful outdoors

I absolutely love this picture of Mark. Not only is he wearing the cutest plaid shorts, (which I could write a whole post about), but it captures his adorable, spunky personality in one shot. He isn't crying...he is yelling in his "Tarzan-like" roar.

It just doesn't seem at all possible that he isn't outside playing right now. He loved to be outside.

One activity that he particularly enjoyed was watering the garden...and my flowers...well, and his sisters! No really, he did love the water hose. He could sense that the water hose was on from a mile away and he would run and grab it out of my hands so that he could be mommy's big helper.

I have missed him most especially these past couple of weeks as I have been watering the garden and thinking how he should be here helping me. I am lonely as I think about him standing there so patiently watering every single plant. There was something so special about having a son.

My daughters are each unique and perfect in their own way and nothing will ever change that. I love everything about them. But, there was something different about having a little boy. He was a mommy's boy and I loved every second of it.

When he was a baby, people would ask us all of the time if it was "different" having a son after all of those daughters. It really wasn't. He was quite the same as our other children were as babies. But, when he became a toddler, everything changed. You know, he started "driving" every toy car and tractor in the house, he would knock his sisters block towers down just to irritate them, and he even found a ball point pen once and wrote all over the couch! (I now regret being able to wash most of that out. I wish I had left it just the way it was so that I could look at it now.)

He was boyish. And like I said before...he was mommy's boy. Don't tell my husband though...he thinks that Mark was a daddy's boy. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Mark was almost permanently attached to my husband's hip. Well, I guess he was just that loving of a son. We miss him so much.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

such a blessing

I want to thank everyone who has left such loving comments on the blog, my email and on facebook. I didn't really know what to expect from this new experience, but I am thankful to have such wonderful friends and family and I am happy to meet new people who are so caring. You are all such a blessing to me .

I was so unaware of this entire "blogging" world. I knew that it existed, but I just hadn't looked into it much. And then Mark died...and well, I started to search. Search for anything and anyone that could identify with what I was going through. I have found so many people sharing all of the pain and heartache that they are experiencing in their lives and it saddens me at the same time that it comforts me to know that I am not the only one feeling this way. As far as starting my own blog...I never thought that I would, but now that I have, I do hope that it helps in some of the healing.

I'll apologize now if my thoughts ever seem scattered in any of my posts...sometimes there is just so much in my mind, I may not make it all flow together smoothly.

As I get better at all of this and figure out how to put more things on my page, I will post links to some of the wonderful blogs that have been so helpful to me in the past couple of months. Women who have such strong faith in God and His goodness and families who have suffered much and come through it all with joy after such sorrow. I am encouraged by all of these inspiring stories because, even though I cannot see the end of this grief...apparently, it is there, somewhere. Surely, it will take a long time to get through this, not over it...that will never happen. Still, to think that there might be a day when I don't hurt every moment is something to look forward to.

But, enough about on to other things.

I will share with you that this morning started out like all other mornings, except that my husband took off today, which makes us all very happy! Anyway, the girls woke up very pleasant and happy and we all ate breakfast and got ready for the day. I needed to run a couple of errands in town and so I left my husband and the girls at home and started off. The first thing that usually saddens me on an "outing" are all of the songs that are on our K-Love Christian radio station. I mean, every other song makes me cry...really. Most of the time, I just try to keep it together because the girls don't like seeing me upset, but when I am by myself, well, I can't help it. Fortunately, today they didn't play any of the songs that really get to me, but no matter what song it means something completely different than it did nine months ago. I can picture my own situation in each one.

Since I had to drive to a different town, I passed the cemetery where Mark's body is buried. Today, I blew him a kiss and tried to remember that he is in Heaven and not there. But, I loved every part of his sweet little self. That is what I cuddled, that is what I kissed and hugged, that is what I rocked to sleep at night and dressed in the most adorable clothes. It is hard to separate his little soul and his little body in my mind. They are supposed to go together. So, I haven't yet resolved that issue in my mind. I do usually stop, but I decided not to today. I don't find that it helps in any way. Our girls like to go, but for me and my husband, it is just too hard. It is so unnatural and wrong to see his precious name on the grave marker. It brings back all of the visions of him in the casket and the memorial service. Images that are hard enough to get out of my head on a normal day, but even harder when we are there.

So, I went on through my first errand, and then I needed to stop at the wonderful Hobby Lobby. What a great store. I try not to go in too often since I am always tempted to buy something, but I needed a couple of things for a graduation gift. Anyway, as it so happened, there was a precious toddler boy crying and crying as his mother carried him through the store. I literally froze. It happens almost every time I see a toddler boy or hear one. My mind flooded with memories of Mark and how he sounded when he cried and talked...and it hurt. I mean, it HURT. My body physically hurt and ached to have Mark back with me.

It is also quite amazing that I can "see" Mark in almost any little boy that I look at. For each child being so unique and special, they all look so much the same too...precious. Most of the time, I have to just look away so that I can finish whatever task it is that I am out to do in the first place. Otherwise, my grief is overwhelming.

I made it home without any further incident. As I pulled up to the house and saw my husband and daughters playing in the backyard, I reminded myself to be thankful for all that God has given me. It has taken some time to even consider being thankful for anything and most of the time, I really don't feel thankful about anything...I don't take for granted what wonderful blessings I still have on this earth, but they are grossly overshadowed right now by sorrow. Grief can make all of the usually special things in life seem so insignificant and it really takes work to see the value in life. I know that if you have experienced this kind of pain, you know what I am talking about. For those of you who haven't...well...I'm glad.

Speaking of that, I wonder how many of us really HAVE experienced such pain. I know that I hadn't until now. My life has certainly had some ups and downs that are of great significance, but nothing like this. I didn't know what it was like to hurt this much. Even if I tried as hard as I could, nothing that I could ever imagine even came close to what it is really like. But, now I know. I have an entirely new perspective on life and an entirely new way at looking at people. People that are hateful...people that commit awful crimes...people that just do things that cause other people pain. I can see how easily someone can become that kind of person. Believe me, I am not in any way excusing people who do awful things and I am definately not saying that I would ever commit a crime or ever try and cause anyone harm. What I am saying is that those people have probably lived through some awful pain. That is when life becomes blurred and you have to choose to take the path of healing or take the path of destruction. Something has to be done with all of the emotions inside and it is not hard to decide to transfer that hurt on someone else. Sometimes, you just can't help it. There were days right after Mark died that my mind drifted to places that scared me. Just thinking thoughts that weren't rational. I guess that it still happens sometimes, but not to the degree that some people take it. My prayer is that I am not hurting others in my despair. My prayer is for complete healing. I just wish it was instant.

Wow, I hope that came across like I meant for it to.

The picture below was taken about two months before Mark's accident. It was always so difficult to get all four of the kids looking at the camera at the same time...much less smiling at the same time. So, this picture is special to me...and the look on Mark's face is just too sweet for words. Which makes it even harder for me to look reminds me that I don't have him anymore. In fact, I am far from being comforted by all of the hundreds of pictures that we have of him, unfortunately. I can't stand it that I can't kiss that sweet face of his anymore. I hope that one day I will be able too look at all of the pictures and smile as I remember all of the memories that we made with him. For now, I can't.

I haven't mentioned yet how terribly Mark's big sisters miss him. Their world has been shattered too and I don't know how to pick up the pieces. They are so heartbroken and they just don't understand why something so terrible would happen to their baby brother. I am trying to be "well" so that they will know that we will all be okay. There are times that I'm not so sure. Truly, in my heart, I know that God will never leave us and that all things work for the good of those who love Him. We do love HIM. So, even when I don't feel like we are going to make it through, I hope that I can remember that I KNOW that we will.

Every waking moment of the day...I miss Mark.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Our son

This is our son, Mark...

Here is his story...

Mark was born on July 10, 2006. He became the first, and only, son to two adoring parents and the little brother of three adoring big sisters. Our lives were absolutely full of joy and we felt complete. Mark was a very happy and loving boy.

In August of 2008, our family took a camping trip with several of our extended family...grandparents, cousins, in-laws and more! Ten adults and nine children having a wonderful time playing games, swimming and riding bikes.

Several of the adults and children were far away from the campsite swimming in the shallow area of the lake while everyone else was up at the pavilion playing games with the children. Mark was at the campsite scooting his trucks around in the dirt...under the watch of several adults, as well as one specific family member who had taken primary responsibility for watching him at that time. He was as happy and content as he could be.

As sometimes happens, the cousins were playing together and got into a minor scuffle. Certainly nothing unusual for a few 7 and 8 year olds, but since there was a bit of crying and a minor boo-boo, it drew everyone's attention to that situation. None of us will ever know why, but in those few moments, Mark snuck away while everyone was distracted. He walked behind one of the campers and started down a hill behind the campsite where he couldn't be seen. He went to a small inlet area of water at the bottom of the hill. It was shallow enough for him to walk in, but he must have lost his footing and not been able to stand up.

Just a minute the midst of whatever was still going on at the campsite, I came up from where we had been swimming and immediately asked where Mark was. It was at that moment that everyone realized that he was missing. They couldn't believe that he wasn't there. In fact, I was later told that everyone had just seen him and they told me how shocked they were because he was "just here". We all started running in different directions from the campsite, but I was the one who found him. God only knows why I was the one who had to find him. The images on my sweet baby lying lifeless in the water still replays over and over in my head...every day.
I ran to him and scooped him up from the water. I had started to scream the second that I saw him and so my husband was there to take him from me by the time I got him out. My husband breathed into Mark's mouth and then handed him over to those who began CPR. He still wasn't breathing when the EMS arrived.
I knew at that moment, my life was forever changed...all that I could do was cry and scream that God would not let him die. I felt like I would die myself at any was like I was looking in on this tragedy and it wasn't really happening to us.

Mark was air lifted to the hospital where he remained for a week, without regaining consciousness. On August 11, after the doctors assured us that there was no chance that Mark would recover, we removed the life support from our baby and he died in his daddy's arms. There is no way to describe the horror of that moment. I look back now and wish that I had been at peace, but all that I could do was scream and yell at God. I pounded the bed with my fists and cried so hard that I thought I would die from heartache. I was able to hold Mark for a couple of hours before I had to face the world without him.

Deep down, we had thought that God would heal our baby and leave him here with us. The thought of losing him was too excruciating to imagine. Even to the last minute, we had faith that God would perform a miracle. And He could have...but he didn't.

All that I wanted was to go with him. At times, I still wish that I could already be there with him. It doesn't mean that I don't love my husband and daughters with all of my heart, but it is just that I miss Mark so much. There are no words for the emotional pain and torture that we have been through since Mark's death. I don't know how to live through this kind of sorrow and I am very much lost right now. The thought of living here for the rest of my life without him is overwhelming.

The "whys" of this senseless accident keep me awake at night and consume me every moment of the day. How did this happen? I certainly never thought that it would happen to us. But it did. It happened to the parents who love their children more than anything in this the parents who do everything to keep their children US! It didn't matter that we have spent every moment since we first had children doing everything in our power to protect and love our kids. It STILL happened! We are not perfect and I will never claim to be, but if it happened to us, it can happen to anyone. God has shown us that He is in control and we are not.
I can't place blame on those who were watching him so diligently. Not even on the one family member who had vocalized that they "had him". (You know, "do you have him?"..."yes, I have Mark".)
No, there is no blame, because accidents just happen. There was no neglect, no irresponsibility or wrongdoing. Just an accident. Or God's will. One day we will know.

None of it makes sense and I know that it all must just be a terrible dream that is going to end. Only, every day I wake up and realize that he is gone and my arms ache for him. They ache fiercely to hold my son. I can remember every silly face, every word, every hug and every other sweet part of my baby boy. It is all so wrong for him to be gone.

I do pray that God will choose to show me why we are having to suffer so much, but I also know that our sovereign and mighty God doesn't owe me an explanation. As Job so beautifully acknowledges..."The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."
Job 1:21b

Until I see Mark again...I will miss him.