"Because life is fragile and death inevitable, we must make the most of each day."
President Thomas S. Monson

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tonight I begin my journey into the month that will mark 1 year since my baby left this world. I am scared for what I will feel as I approach the end of the month. I am afraid of what I will remember. I worry that this truly will be more difficult than it was for me last year. I am already beginning to feel it no matter how hard I try to dismiss my emotions. I truly wish I could Skip June…for the rest of my life.
My visiting teacher, Ruth, dropped off flowers tonight when I wasn’t home. I cannot even begin to say how much that sentiment means to me. The flowers are purple which is significant for several reasons...purple is the color used to teach about prevention of child injuries around cars...purple is the color that looked best on Amberlee...and lets face it, purple is just cool.

She wrote a simple note, You are loved. I think that that phrase is a beautiful beginning to the nightmare I must face. Flowers are a symbol of life, and happiness, and I never appreciated them until this year. These flowers, and the sweet sentiment she shared, give me a little bit of strength to move forward. I need to feel that I am loved. It never ceases to amaze me that I look at this world with completely different eyes than I did before I experienced tragedy in my own life. Imagine if we all told each other in those simple words…You are loved. There is strength in that phrase that can allow a person to move forward even when it seems impossible.
I miss you Amberlee, You Are Loved!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

If I Had Only Known

I found a beautiful version of the song that we set to video for Amberlee's funeral. Of course, it is Reba that sings it. She has always been my favorite. Approaching this next month I wanted to share this version with you all as well as a memory. Hint: You need to pause the music at the bottom of the blog before starting the video, so it will not interfere with the video music.

I am not sure if Kyle knew the song when I played it for him. A couple nights after Amberlee passed away I had to go home. I wanted desperately to get my IPOD so that I could play this song for him. I have always been a believer that music can heal the soul, and I was singing it in my mind over and over again ever since she passed away. We went home and we got the IPOD. We then laid next to each other right before we went to bed that evening. I put one earphone in his ear, and one in mine. The song began after I told him how much I wanted to use it, and we laid there holding each other and listening. The tears began to flow because the song expresses perfectly and simply how we feel about losing her. These tears were the first true emotion I was able to express over Amberlee. I cried and cried, and my whole body shook as I realized the enormity of the situation. Kyle of course cried too, and that is when I realized that I truly forgave him. Neither of us wanted this to happen, we were just victims of unfortunate circumstances.

There is only one word of the song I would change. You were the treasure in my hand, you were the one who always (slept) beside me. It is especially dear to me because Amberlee insisted she be next to me every single night. I miss her daily, and I hope this song can bring you comfort the same as it does for me. This version has amazing emotion attached to it. Enjoy!

Monday, May 26, 2008

We all Feel and Share this Loss...

Starting this blog is so soothing and comforting. The best result I witness from the blog is that my friends now feel comfortable talking to me, which is something I wish they were doing this whole past year. I want to share with you several experiences that were similiar this last week.

One of my friends stated to me that it was difficult for her to deal with Amberlee's death because she was pregnant, and she was so close to her. She has a hard time discussing it, and she cannot deal well with the emotions that come up because of Amberlee.

Shortly after talking to this friend I asked another friend why she never holds Riesse. I was shocked to hear when she said I am afraid that I will hold her and a week later you will call me and tell me she is gone. She then described to me how vividly she remembers the last day she held Amberlee, and then the following week, she was gone. So I took Riesse and handed her to my friend and told her that that would not happen, and we all need to move forward. She looked beautiful holding Riesse, and I believe it was very comforting.

Then only a couple days later I mentioned how shocked I was by these stories to yet another friend and she floored me as well. She told me she has not held any baby since Amberlee passed away.

I am so sad that I didn't realize we all hurt so bad. I know that people are grieving like I am...my sister allowed me to realize how bad she hurt shortly after this happened. I want you all to know that it takes a village to raise a child. That statement is so true. This week I learned that I don't understand how much my life affects others, and I really need to be sensitive to that. It really isn't surprising that everybody affected by Amberlee would be struggling over her sudden and tragic death. She is a sweet story that began...but will never finish in this lifetime.

I hope you know that you can all talk to me. I would appreciate it. If you are having a bad day call me. Interestingly I am afraid to call people when I am hurting because I don't want to make them suffer like I do. I would welcome someone calling me to tell me they miss her...or that they are angry she is not here...whatever. I am always here...and I am always willing to talk about life. If it becomes too much for me then I'll tell you...but I simply wish that we can all work together to get through this. We all feel and share this loss...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Monumental Momentum

Did you like the alliteration in my title? My English teachers would be very impressed. Try saying that 10 times fast.

So I went to the gym today...deep breath. I know you might not think that that is a major feat, but it was. Driving to the gym I started crying, and I had to try hard to stop before I got there and everyone thought I looked like a fool. The last time I went to the gym was the day Amberlee got hurt. I went to the same gym today, and as luck would have it...the spot that was open was the one facing the spot I parked in on that day. Poetry in life I guess, I was facing the exact circumstances of the tragedy head on.

After I was done working out, I got in the car, and of course it hit me right then. Immense heat, right in my face! Honestly, car heat is very difficult to deal with these days, and right after I worked out...this felt like Hell. I bet if I looked up the temperature for today it would be a high of 108 just like that day. (Update: it was exactly 108 this day!)

Many people tell me to move on, to focus on the positive. So that is what I did when faced with these harsh circumstances that seemed like a mirror image of the day leading to the worst day of my life. To combat the heat I opened the windows and I blared the radio. Then I turned the AC on full blast....cured...instantly I was taken back to when I was 19 years old (and sexy btw) and life was free and easy for the most part.

Maybe this is avoiding the problem, but the one counsellor I talked to said she was going to try to trick my brain into remember good things instead of the trauma, and that is what I did on my own (subtract the $100 per hour fee). I know that every time it will get easier, as these things tend to do. I just wish I didn't feel like I was in a nightmare whenever circumstances bring me back to those two horrible days.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Remembering All of My Daughters

I am realizing that the weekends are when it all comes out. It must be because I am not running like crazy to get the kids or take Kelli to piano, or also because Kyle is home so I get to rest a bit. Sundays may even be the worst day of the week for me. Today I am home sick and in bed and all I can do is think of Amberlee. What she would be doing now, what she is doing now. Shelley has a grandson that was born just a few days apart from Amberlee, and sometimes I wonder if it would help to see him once in awhile to comfort my heart and bless me with the knowledge of where Amberlee would be right now. I wonder if holding him for a few minutes would help ease my pain. I am afraid it may hurt too bad as well.

There is a website I found before I made this blog, created by a Mother who feels the same pain as I do. She lost her baby the day before Riesse was born, isn't that coincidental. I know what she feels today, and I wish that I could help her through this suffering that seems lonely no matter how much support we get. On her blog she talks about going to the park with her daughters (yes she only has girls too) and wanting to shout Did you know I lost my daughter, my daughter passed away? Those aren't her exact words, but as I read them they reminded me of how I feel.

Walking through a grocery store or school I often wonder if people know, and if they knew what they would think or do. I wonder how they might treat me. Then I realize, wow, what don't I know about them. The truth is we all struggle and we all have suffering in our life. I want to shout so that people know I am there, and if there are any childless mothers that need my help and experience I can help them, and they would know because I shared my story. I am sure there are many of us out there, Mothers who have lost their sweet babies. We all go through life thinking that it doesn't happen that often, but I am sure it happens more often than we know. We live with our burdens in silence though, and knowing each other is an impossiblity because it is just not acceptable to tell people in public how we feel.

Even those who know about Amberlee try to avoid, and why wouldn't they, I try to avoid thinking of her when I have to get through a busy day, and I am her mother. It hurts when people don't want to remember though, or when they avoid talking about her. There are many times I will be in Target or Safeway, with my entire family and a couple will stop us and say, wow, you have 5 beautiful girls. Sometimes they will brag that they had all boys or all girls too. I don't mean to be rude, or to hurt their feelings but I Always tell people when they comment, we have 6 girls. Not always but once in awhile we get the question, Where is the other one? I simply tell them, she passed away.

I feel as though not telling people is avoiding that she ever existed. I feel like I am not being fair to her, and I need to tell people she was here, and we love her. Our daughters often draw family pictures in school or at home, and they draw Amberlee in them. She is part of our family, and will be forever, why would we deny her of that right and exclude her. I don't want to go through life without her, but because I must, I want everyone to remember that I have 6 girls to love and to cherish. Whether Amberlee is here right now or not, I will not move forward without her, and if I want to remember her everyday, that is ok, because she is and forever will be part of our family.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Every Parent's Biggest Fear

Before Amberlee passed away, I would get those forwards that would ask a million questions about you and then you forward it to your friends. There is one question that always got/gets the same answer. What is your biggest fear? I always answer, that one of my children will die before me. I believe that every person fears this same fear, and many people believe that they could not go on if they ever lost a child, especially at a young age. It is extremely difficult to go on. There are many dynamics to this tragedy that are hard to explain, especially within marriage. Previously I thought that people got divorced after the loss of a child because they gave up and could not handle it. That is not what happens, or rather the answer is not that simple.
Losing a child changes a person in a deep way. Imagine being married to a person and all of sudden, both you and that person change dramatically. It is like being re-married to the same person, only that person doesn't respond to you in the same way all of a sudden. Its a struggle to be married anyway, but when you add that aspect it makes it so much more difficult. All those years of working together to improve behaviors and make the marriage work are simply erased.
Furthermore, the sadness we feel took over so competely that we had nothing to give to anyone else. I can only imagine that if we did not have a support system of people loving us and guiding us back onto the path of life, we would not have made it this far. To dwell on the tragedy can only bring more pain, however, it is impossible to ignore it, and we should not ignore it. It is part of who we are, it defines us in a way.

However, life goes on, and we have to move on to the happier days to survive. As I am saying this I am thinking to myself, I will, but just let me get past the 1st year.

Complete Peace

On June 29th, we sat in the hospital bewildered, in shock, and restless. Just before dawn the nurses asked us to leave for a bit, they needed to run some tests that we could not be present for. We went to a room that they set up for us, and laid down, hoping to rest just a bit. As I laid down I felt even more restless. I became exhasperated and finally told Kyle I could not sleep, I had to go back to Amberlee. We walked back to the room, and they were done doing the tests, so we sat down and we watched the machines support our sweet baby.

That is when Amberlee spoke to me from her heart. She said You have to let me go. I told her that I would not, I am her mother, it is my job to fight for her, I have to fight for her. She then repeated to me...You have to let me go. This is not me, this will never be me again, you have to let me go. The voice was so mature, and so stern and matter of fact. She would not take no for an answer, but I could feel that she knew how hard it would be for me, and she could not leave until I accepted she must go. Reluctantly I whispered back in my mind, ok, I understand, I can let you go.

Immediately... an all encompassing peace filled the room. Kyle felt it too eventhough he did not yet know what I was experiencing. The peace was so strong that I knew it was ok.. that this is what should be.. and then I felt her leave us. She was gone...we could see a change in her body as it lie there on the bed...there was no doubt she was not there anymore.

Only a slight moment later I saw a picture in my mind of her in Christ's arms and I felt a voice tell me, Do not worry, she is safe in my arms now.


Even now we realize how much everybody around us helped, and I do mean everyone. It is very difficult to see the impact on others when life seems to have stopped for you. People that we did not talk to for years showed up to offer their condolences. Almost a hundred people wrote letters in support of Kyle. Church members treated the wood on our playground, so the girls could play on it. Our brother in law mowed our lawn for a month. Things that we had wanted to do to our house were being done simply because someone heard through the grapevine that we wanted it. People came to our house and cleaned it, and when we were robbed a few days later they came back and cleaned it again. There were many that even sheltered us from the media so that we could mourn in peace. We are so thankful for the love and the service. We are especially thankful for each and every person that dropped everything to be there to help us through those two days. It is amazing, you would think people didn't actually have jobs. =) I am kidding of course. Honestly, we do not really know everything that everybody did, and this blog is not big enough to list them all, but we want to tell you that you will be blessed for all you did for us.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tragedy Strikes

I was still busy working on the computer and when Kyle came home he helped. I actually have a memory of him carrying Amberlee to just behind the pony wall and setting her car seat down with her asleep in it. Even though I know that didn't happen, I have that memory?? WEIRD

We tried to plan a trip to Illinios, which never seemed to work out, and then Kyle went to get ready for work. I went to find Amberlee to feed her.
I looked everywhere, and my heart sunk as I realized what might be. Kyle Where's Amberlee? I asked over and over. He didn't seem to hear me, and then I said you took her with you to your mom's, she went with you, is she still in the car? and then it sunk completely...Kyle realized where she was and he said get the keys...the next few days are a blur really.
I remember calling 911. I remember seeing her there purple, OH she was so hot to touch. She was breathing though, and I just didn't know what that meant. I wanted it to mean she was ok, but it didn't. We kept changing cool cloths and we kept putting them all over her, and her color did return, but her pupils were like pinpricks, and that never changed. Her mouth was releasing some strange mucous that I cleaned out, but it kept coming. And she moaned this horrible moan over and over again.
We were experiencing everybody's worst nightmare, in slow motion.
The emergency crew arrived and began to work on her, and they would not talk to me. They wanted me to continue holding her. Had I known that that was the last time I would be able to hold her without tubes and medical supplies, I would have done it and not been so selfish. It was just so hard for me to see her like that. My precious baby, filled with life that morning, and now struggling for life in a way that she never should have had to. I asked if they thought she would be ok, and they said they didn't know. I could see it in their faces though. Sometimes a person doesn't have to answer with words.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Life Changes

Never, ever say to yourself, Life is Good! You will be tested, and you will be shown how blessed you are, and how quickly that can change.

I remember the morning of June 28th so clearly. I woke up, knowing my Mother In Law needed some help with errands, and planning my day accordingly. I scheduled a gym appointment with a trainer, because I was exercising so regularly I felt I needed to up the anti. I left the gym so happy. I was volunteering at my kids schools, I had a new baby that was blessing our life, I was losing weight finally after years of trying I figured out the key (nutrition btw), the kids were behaving, I was reading my scriptures regularly, even my relationship with my husband was working out well. Life was GREAT!!!. I got into our brand new Honda CRV, which I adored and thought was just the cutest thing ever. As I started the engine to drive to my Mother In Law's House I said to myself, Life is good. I am so happy, things are finally going in the right direction. Thank you.
After running my errands I ran home quick, but what I thought would be quick turned out to be not so quick. Something was spilled on the floor, and I had to sweep and mop. My poor Mother In Law waited patiently while Kyle and I swept then mopped. Ooh, I have 2 quick bills to pay is that ok...sure...so I got on the phone and started paying the car payment on that new car that I loved so much. My mother in law then asked, Can Kyle just run me home quick?...sure.. that will be fine. So they began to go...Oh would you mind taking the baby...so I can finish these bills...No problem.
And then the last words that I would ever hear spoken to my sweet daughter came out of my sweet husbands mouth..."You want to go for a ride?" She was so happy, she beamed at him. She loved car rides. I wish that smile was for me, but it wasn't. Looking at it now, that is probably for the best, because who needs it more than I do. I am still jealous...

What I didn't Expect...

I think one of the most amazing parts of this is that I didn't expect that tragedy would affect my life in the way it did. Obviously we went through some typical emotions. I am a planner though, and I could not plan them out, FRUSTRATING. When my mind wants to cry it cries, when it wants to move on it moves on. Honestly for the greater part of the year Kyle and I did the minimum we could to survive. I like to call it functioning at a minimum capacity. Brush your teeth if you have to, get dressed if you have to. We had an extreme lack of desire to do more. NO initiative.

I remember that at first I clung to the gospel, and then I let it leave. I was so mad that this happened to me. I was so mad that God is supposed to be loving and caring, yet he didn't protect us from tragedy. I remember bearing my testimony that first month and I remember praying about why this had happened. The answer I got was we don't always have to know why. I was never prompted that my baby was all alone and I should go help her, why. Because this is the lords plan, and we don't always know why. That's it, so simple, yet so difficult to bear.