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

Monday, June 30, 2008

June 29th, 2008...One Year Later

Yesterday was simply perfect!

I spent part of Saturday making ribbons for friends and people at church to wear to remember Amberlee. The ribbons were purple, as was everything from this day. I believe I have mentioned this before...but purple is the color that is used as a symbol for the protection of children in and around vehicles. It was also Amberlee's best color!

Well it was a miracle =), but we made it to Church early. I passed out ribbons to everyone that I could. I was really worried about being at Church, because it starts at 9:00 am and Sacrament runs to 10:15am. Amberlee passed away @ 9:41 am, so I was concerned I would break down in the middle of Sacrament. My worries never came to fruition. I am extremely grateful for everybody's willingness to wear these ribbons. I looked around church, and almost everybody was wearing one, and it was such a comfort...because I realized everyone supports us still even one year later. Their faith gave me strength through Sacrament...and 9:41 am peacefully came and went, and I was ok. I got to spend 3 hours looking at these beautiful yet simple ribbons, and remembering her spirit and life...with Joy, instead of pain. Thank you!

At about 6pm, after a nice nap, our friends/family began to show up at our house. They even showed up on time. We talked a bit, and some gave us letters for Amberlee. We then watched 2 videos that friends created for her memory. Afterward...and almost at sunset we drove to the cemetary. We were a little concerned because the wind was blowing so hard, and we planned on using candles.

side note: the Native American's believe that when the wind is blowing, spirits are around you, on Amberlee's Birthday, the day Kyle went to the Grand Jury, and on this day...the wind blew and blew and blew.

When we got to the cemetary we stood in a circle around her grave. Many friends shared thoughts about the last year, and about her loss. Kyle and I made some remarks as well. Then we lit candles in her memory and sang a few songs, "I am a child of God", "We love to see the Temple", and "Families can be together Forever". After singing we got ready to say a prayer just as the sun set in the west with an amazing spray of orange, purple, and pink blended into a majestic sky. The moment was simply perfect.

Right before the prayer though...and all of a sudden...the sprinklers turned on and began to spray us all...this was very comical...and let me tell you it just added to this perfect day. The kids played in the water...as the adults talked, and when it got so dark we could barely see we drove home. Some friends visited, but overall, the day really seemed low key, and simple. The peace that surrounds me even now is a comfort I am learning to appreciate and hopeing for everyday.

I will include some more pictures...but these are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them as well.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

More from the 29th

Don't Believe Everything You Read, haha

This weekend we surrounded ourselves with friends/family to distract us from sadness and to remember life, with happiness. Although we miss Amberlee dearly...we call the day she left us as her "Heaven Day"...and we really wanted to celebrate the fact that she is in Heaven rather than mourn her loss, after all her spirit lives on. I mentioned previously that the books that I read said that the 1st Anniversary is the hardest. I am not sure I believe the books I read after experiencing the 1st Anniversary. The week before the 1st Anniversary was terribly difficult, but the actual Anniversary, and the week of were easier. I know there are probably reasons for this, as I felt an amazing comfort surrounding me for that week. It is amazing how the spirit can take hold and bless us when we feel we can take no more.

I am forever grateful to everyone that prayed for us to get through...we could definitely feel the strength in those prayers which gave us strength to make it past the worst year of our lives. Now it is time to move on with fervor and to recreate our family with hope for happiness in the future. I certainly feel blessed.

Beth Malone (a friend that lost a baby many years ago) mentioned to me after Amberlee died, that I would see blessings from her death. At the time I was slightly put off by the comment, I could not imagine ever seeing blessings from something so horrible. This past year I have learned so much through loss. I know for sure that Christ is there for us, and now I can understand what he sacraficed and suffered for us because he has born my pain. There are many other blessings that I will not get into right now, but please know that I have learned to be there for my friends through their pain. If ever, any of you need me, call, and I will be there no matter what.

I love you all.
Thanks for helping me through.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Amberlee Elizabeth Brown

March 22nd, 2007 @ 11:07 am
Entered into her Eternal Life:
June 29th, 2007 @ 9:41 am
She lived 99 days on this wonderful earth.
Its been 1 year and we miss you baby girl...we can't wait to see you again!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Our experience with Amberlee's Rainbows started shortly after she passed away. I want to believe that she is sending us the rainbows...so that we can believe she is happy and wants us to be happy. Every road trip & family vaction that we went on this year...there was inevitably a rainbow and sometimes 2. In one instance there wasn't a cloud in the sky and so we wondered if we would get the rainbow we had come to expect...but when we sat down at a table in a restaurant with the Madden Family a glass from the wall reflected right in the middle of the table...and who would have guessed that a rainbow would show in such an uncommon way.

Another remarkable instance was when Kelli had to go to the hospital with her baby...Kaitlynn had been screaming for over a week, non-stop, and Kelli decided something had to be done...but she also needed support. This was one of my biggest challenges this year because she went to none other than Phoenix Children's Hospital...where Amberlee passed away. I knew I wanted to help my friend...but I also knew that it would be difficult to enter the doors of that hospital ever again...because I would have to walk right by the PICU hallway to get to Kelli & Kaitlynn. I prayed for strength the whole drive there...and when I entered the hospital I felt peace. I felt strength and I could feel that I was being held in those hallways (probably by all the tiny spririts that knew what I had endured there).

Well I visited with Kaitlynn and Kelli for a long time...I believe Steve had to throw me out of the room even. About when I decided to leave...Kelli agreed to walk with me to the PICU to thank the Doctors and Nurses that had helped me with Amberlee. On our way there I looked out the window...and I noticed one of the most amazing Rainbows I have ever seen in the Arizona sky. I knew that the peace and comfort that was being given to me was an extra special blessing...and the rainbow was the icing on the cake.

I am unsure of what happens after this life. I do believe that there is a God in Heaven waiting for our safe return though. I believe that he watches over us and provides us with strength and comfort. I know that the Holy Spirit whispered peace to our hearts at the very moment that Amberlee's spirit left her body, and that that same spirit carried us through the entire week and even shortly after we buried our daughter. When I think of what Christ had to endure for us...taking on all the pains of the world...and I consider this one of his pains...it makes me understand how gracious our redeemer was to sacrifice himself and to bear our burdens. I cannot doubt his knowledge of what we are going through...becuase he is able and willing to help us through...and he knows exactly what we need to make it.

I do know that I have felt my daughter visit me...and when she has visited those few times I get the same feelings I had when her spirit was alive and well with me on this earth. The visits are few and far between. I can't say that I wish there were more...because we all have to move on in life. I am grateful for the small gifts I am given...at times when I need strength above and beyond what I can muster on my own. As for understanding why this happened...and how we will ultimately make it though this next week...I know that it is God's will and I find comfort in the only scripture I have ever memorized...

"For behold, this is My Work and My Glory- to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Beautiful Socks...

I have not shared this part of the story with most people. It came up tonight in conversation, so I realized it was such a blessing that I would share it with you and you might have a glimpse into those days, and the peace that was given to us.

After Amberlee's viewing (which I thought was absolutely perfect with the ribbons and flowers and just everything)...Kyle and I had a very special moment.

Most everyone was gone...and the funeral director decided that we wrap up. We were really unsure of what we should do at that point but she was gracious and guided us every step of the way. She began by asking us if we wanted to take one more look...and we did...we took what remained of Amberlee in and she looked beautiful in her dress. Then Jennifer kindly asked, "Would you like to hold her?"...This was a very awkward question. Of course we did but questions flew through my mind...was it allowed?...how would that feel?...what is Kyle thinking? So Jennifer gently picked her up...with as much respect as one would pick up any sleeping infant...and she gently handed my baby to me. It felt amazingly comfortable holding Amberlee, and even talking about it now warms my heart.

Shortly after I held her I handed her to Kyle. Our Sister In Law was taking pictures to help us remember these very special moments. Jennifer then suggested we walk to a room for privacy so we carried her into this little room, and Jennifer laid out a beautiful blanket and we laid Amberlee on it. Then Jennifer gently said, "You know what...I am a ditz...I forgot to put her socks on?" I was like...what...you forgot to put her socks on...weren't YOU supposed to dress her...of course I said this in my mind and not out loud. Jennifer asked if we would like to do it...and following her guidance we said sure. She handed me this beautiful pair of socks that we purchased for Amberlee...and we proceeded to dress our daughter for the very last time.

About then is when I knew it was a setup. As I laughed to myself I realized that it was inspired ...and that there may be something to Jennifer's suggestions. I unpackaged these beautiful socks and I found Amberlee's perfect little foot hidden beneath her princess dress. I still remember how chubby and soft her foot was. I almost didn't want to cover it...I wanted to stand there holding her foot and never pass into the very end of her life when we would not be able to see her again. I smoothly slid the sock over her foot, and I noticed the sock was wrinkled...what amazes me still today is that I had to straighten it a couple of times. Even when my baby was no longer alive...I still felt the need to make everything perfect for her...I still wanted her socks to warm her chubby little feet and not be wrinkled over them. After I was done...Kyle took the other sock and did the same thing with the same feelings. However slight this seems...it felt enormous...and it stands as one of the most significant memories of my life.

We are forever grateful for this slight experience that shapes how we view the last few days with our daughter. We were blessed by Jennifer's presence and her gentle guidance through something that would most likely be a nightmare...but she managed to make it a peaceful memory that blesses us even today. As we look back...we think that all of the services were simply perfect...and we could not ask for more support than we were given for those days when we needed it the most.

Sleep well sweet Princessa...until one day...when we meet again with pure happiness surrounding us, for eternity.

A Pattern..?

So...I am not going to lie to you...this week is horrible. I feel like every day I sink deeper into despair and the darkness is swallowing me up. I play edifying music...but I can't focus on it...and mostly I just want to escape from life. I want to hide...I want to withdraw. It is so very difficult for me to feel this way and it is even more difficult to share it. I want to be positive...I want to be a helper...but right now I guess is not my time and season.

I am debating whether or not to delete the paragraph above...but I feel that would be untrue to my feelings...and I promised that I would share those feelings so people would know what I am going through. Instead of dwelling on the negative lets talk about a specific blessing.

Tonight was especially bad...my sister...who never comes over mid week...just happened to show up. She knew something was up, as sisters do...and she conveniently visited for a bit. Then she went to get groceries and she was kind enough to pick up dinner for me and the girls. I am so grateful...because honestly I did not want to do anything. Last night Claire brought dinner too.,.do I see a pattern...oh wait..Alicia called and invited me to dinner tomorrow...and Kelli fed me the day before yesterday...Yep! I would say that is definitely a pattern.

I really appreciate it. I am so very blessed to have people helping me out where I need help the most. I am glad to see these people are thinking of us during these last weeks before the anniversary. I wish you all could take just one tiny portion of my pain and we could all bear it together...I know you would if you could...but since you cannot loving me is enough...and I thank you for loving. me.

Monday, June 16, 2008


The worst part of his all is my lack of control. I am a control freak...it is so hard to deal with the inability to stop my emotions. Today...I was trying to escape in the ways that I know how...and Kyle kept telling me I needed to go the gym. Well right away I knew this was not a good day for that. But after several tries I got dressed and ready to do the gym...I even convinced myself that it would help...that is what I needed.

Well I got in the car and my eyes started to water...so I figured maybe music will help and once I am moving I'll be fine...but then I got into traffic. I just wanted to rid myself of the pain that I feel right now. A car was coming towards me and I actually thought...if I let the car hit me then I won't have to deal with this situation. I got passed that stage and told myself...that it was a stupid thought that would not actually help anything...and I moved onto stage 3 of my lack of control. As I was driving my eyes teared up more...and I looked in the mirror to see if it was obvious...but it wasn't...still ok and I can still get there.

It was then that it came out. I started to hyperventillate I was crying and I just wanted to think of someone I could talk to. I could not focus my thoughts and body were consummed by this grief that was coming now...not later. Well, I just can't go to Kyle when I feel this way...and especially after Father's Day...it only makes it worse for him. I tried to think of several people and had to dissmiss each one for several reason. But then I thought of a person...Donna...and she was actually on the way. I know that her kids wouldn't be too freaked out to see me cry...because they've seen it before. So I knocked on the door and asked for her and I walked in and hugged her and cried and cried. She couldn't understand why and she kept asking me to repeat myself...because she couldn't understand, but she did listen. It is so awesome to have friends that you can lean on when you have no feet to stand on.

I don't know if you have ever felt this way...but there are levels of crying. At this point I feel I am at the end stage if there is one. When I cry for Amberlee I feel it in my entire body. The tears drain everything from me...and I cannot stop them. They make my stomach and all of my muscles hurt...its like the depth of my being is mourning. I just miss what I am missing her do everyday...and it hurts to know that I have to finish my entire life here before I can see her sweet face again. Her smell, her laugh, her smile, her strength...all of it.

I thought that a few things about Riesse would help, but primarily I thought that always planning for the number of children would get better. I mean the setting the table, counting the children in the pool or at the park, you know making sure they are all with me and safe. It has not gotten better though. I know I have six girls. And Riesse does not make it 5 again...she makes it 6 now. So instead of counting for 5 I count for 6 and that problem was not solved as I thought it might be.

I am really trying here to appreciate my blessings...I have a million of them. I really feel like I cannot focus for this anniversary. I cannot even plan what we will do...but I know that I want it to be really special so that we can get through. A song on my blog "Homesick" has a couple of lines that come to mind...I close my eyes, and I see your face. If home is where my heart is then I'm out of place. My entire heart is not here... I feel like a fraction of who I was before...and I don't even know how to act around people. I don't even know who I am at this point.

I know this is all rambling...but I guess I am just getting it out. I am so filled with emotion I cannot even focus on one.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Just So You Know

I read this poem in church shortly after Amberlee passed away. I desperately wanted people that I know to quit treating me so differently. Some people tried to help and they just said the wrong things...things that hurt even though they did noy intend it that way. I am sharing it with you today...becuase I still feel the same...and I hope that you can find peace and understanding in these heartfelt words.

Don't Tell Me

Please don't tell me you know how I feel,
Unless you have lost your child too,
Please don't tell me my broken heart will heal,
Because that is just not true,
Please don't tell me my (daughter) is in a better place,
Though it is true, I want (her) here with me,
Don't tell me someday I'll hear (her) voice, see (her) face,
Beyond today I cannot see,
Don't tell me it is time to move on,
Because I cannot,
Don't tell me to face the fact (she) is gone,
Because denial is something I can't stop,
Don't tell me to be thankful for the time I had,
Because I wanted more,
Don't tell me when I am my old self you will be glad,
I'll never be as I was before,
What you can tell me is you will be here for me,
That you will listen when I talk of my child,
You can share with me my precious memories,
You can even cry with me for a while,
And please don't hesitate to say (her) name,
Because it is something I long to hear everyday,
Friend please realize that I can never be the same,
But if you stand by me, you may like the new person I become someday.
Judi Walker(In Memory of Shane)
Copyright 1998
Update: A Well known LDS Artist Hilary Weeks has produced a song set to this poem. It will be coming out on her new album. I cannot wait to hear it, and cry as I know I will.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Its Difficult to Understand...

So I was talking to some friends this week, and I am realizing that my closest friends want desperately to help, but they simply cannot relate. It is impossible for them to truly understand, and I don't blame them...but I need help. I was telling one friend in particular...I am used to being the person that helps... and right now... I am the person that needs help. This is not me...how do I get out of this funk. I want to be the one providing the support again.

More and more I am realizing how many mourning mothers are out there. I have met at least 5 women that are close to me that have lost children. I want to say to them that I feel their pain and I pray for their comfort. No matter when, in early pregnancy, in late pregnancy, shortly after birth, late in childhood...it still hurts; and anybody that has experienced it will bear that pain for a lifetime.

If any of you know anyone that you feel could benefit from this blog feel free to ask me to invite them...and send me their e-mail. I am resolved to help those that I can because of my experience with this loss.

Thank you for you love...even if you cannot fully comprehend what I am going through...thank you for loving me regardless of my sadness.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Law, The News, & Life

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/118359 recent article
http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/92455 original article

So Kyle is not going to be charged...and here are the details that the newspaper shared. I am glad to be able to share this with you, finally. As the time approaches for the 1 year anniversary...I realize that we will be through all of the rough stages very soon. The very last stage is watching Riesse pass through the point of life that Amberlee was in. But after that we can move on...with our normal grieving and none of the extra.

Going back to the charging. I do not understand the comments that people make on these websites. Every single person that knows about our story agrees that charging Kyle would be more punishment than necessary. A parent that goes through a drowning, or an accident such as ours, suffers with that pain for the rest of their life (it is not an easy thing to deal with)...what would a legal punishment do that a loving parent could not do to themselves. I try to dismiss their behavior by saying...the news didn't get the story right so how can I expect them to accurately weigh the circumstances...but that excuse is not good for them. They have no right...to judge us for what has occured. Just as we have no right to judge anyone else.

So I would like to challenge us all. We need to think twice every single time we hear a news story or any story, even gossip. Before we comment and give our opinion...we need to say to ourself...what don't we know? It is impossible to know all the details of every situation brought to our attention...and I have learned through this tragedy...that everybody deserves our benefit of the doubt...even if it looks really really bad...they deserve it. And we need to be empathetic to their issues and willing to help everyone we can through anything.

Life lesson #2,987,431 learned...check!

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Song That I Love

Before I started this blog I found another blog that inspired me. A grieving mother, Angie Smith, started it when she was pregnant with her daughter, Audrey Caroline, Audrey went to her heavenly home a couple peaceful hours after her birth. She wrote the following song with a friend Christa Wells and with her husband Todd...about the feelings they have for their beautiful baby Audrey. Audrey was born the day before Riesse April 7th (Riesse on April 8th). This song touches my heart very deeply...and I wanted to share it with you...please read the lyrics...they mean so much to her and to me.

I Will Carry You

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

People say that I am brave but I'm not
Truth is I'm barely hanging on
But there's a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One Who's chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I Know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says...

I've shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One Who's chosen Me
To carry you

If you would like to know more about her story feel free to follow the link to Angie's blog in my blog posts...under Audrey Caroline. She is an amazing person...with great faith...and a talent for sharing her life to inspire others.

Sometime I Just Want to Scream!!!!!!

Yesterday I was simply too tired to do anything. I was sitting in the rocking chair singing to Riesse and looking at the big picture of Amberlee that we had everyone sign. I was really really tired...but as I sat there looking at the picture I began to notice how many details of her face it captures. Then I realized that from where I was she looked almost life size...and as you might guess...the emotions started to flow.

Sometimes I just want to scream from the depths of my soul. I want to say...this isn't fair...why did this happen to me...isn't it enough that I lost my father when I was two. I thought that that was supposed to be my challenge in life. I want to scream that I just want to see her crawl or see her walk along the couch. Its the simple things that I will never get that make me feel and hurt so much more. I want to put a pony tail in her hair...or even to braid it...I want to kiss her nose...and make her dresses. Sometimes I feel robbed and I just want someone to scream at but there is nobody to even tell this to that would understand how deeply I feel that I want her back.

I can still remember her smell...I want to smell it again...and feel her soft hair against my neck as she sleeps on my shoulder.

I realize that I am blessed beyond anything I could ask for...and I try hard to look at those blessings and realize a day will come when I see her again. As the anniversary approaches I am finding it more difficult to be positive. I have decided that I am going to look for a piece of pottery and break it into pieces...then glue it back together. I read this in a book...and then another blog I read from a mother that lost her child...she did it after she read it...it is supposed to be healing. Breaking the pottery is a simile for all that I feel from this past year. Gluing it back together...yet still seeing it broken.. is a simile for what I will be for the rest of my life.

Sometimes I wonder what I will become from this...hopefully I become stronger and I will be compassionate towards others who feel the same pain, only time will tell. Please try to bear with me through this.