Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy 2nd Birthday Piper

January 4, 2013

Happy Birthday to the sweetest little girl I have ever kissed... I love you still!
You brought me so much joy and my life is forever better because of you.  I will love more, see more, feel more, hope more and imagine more because of you my daughter.  God blessed us richly with you, and with every single day we enjoyed with you.  I wish for so many more, but I wouldn't wish you away from the arms of True Love even though my arms ache with your absence.  I was remembering the gift of your first birthday today, on the day you would be two.  I don't know that I have ever watched one so close or observed true fascination with life in action as I did while I watched you that day Piper.  Your observant nature and emotional transparency created magic as we all watched you so thoroughly enjoy that day and all that it brought.  My words will not tell the picture of the treasures of the day as well as your expressions will so dear daughter of mine, tell the story as you will.

(how pleased you were to be woken up from your nap)

 (what you thought of your cupcake)

 (what you thought of the audience watching you)

 (what you thought of the cupcake after you tasted it... better as artwork than food)

 (what you thought of the phone Daniel picked out for you)

 (the crazy love you had for the doll you got)

 (the way you wouldn't let that doll go and just kept checking out her face with that intentional little finger of yours)

(how you wanted to examine every detail of every gift you received, all while loving the interaction with each child that helped you experience their gift)

 (the way you wanted to examine the skirt you received)

(your feelings toward what would become your favourite toy, the glow worm) 

(the joy you found in people that loved you - you weren't smiling at the camera, you were smiling at your daddy!)

(your excitement over a new experience... tissue paper and bags... in and out... along with...

... beautiful shiny things like this beautiful bracelet created with love)

Pipsi, you taught me more than I realized I could learn from a child.  Who holds the greater knowledge, the truer perspective of what matters most and the richest form of love... my adult mind or the gifted mind of a child?  Thank you for teaching me Piper.  I will love you forever. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Happy Birthday Drew

Happy Birthday Drew!  I love you still...
Gifted to us on August 2, 2008
Joy revealed, perspective shifted, and love taught - you have given us so much!  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Silence... what does it mean?

My fingers have ached to write over the last two months, my mind has written so many things without ink, all while my heart protests that writing will empty the energy store allotted for survival.  How can I feel such conflict?!  I realized during our journey with Piper what a gift writing has been for me.  I asked God to allow me to be a pencil in His hand, and that He will continue to accomplish His purpose for Piper's life through me.  Am I a tool that can be used, and yet so weak?  The lives of my children  demand my outpouring of words - not out of obligation but out of a place of fullness, a desire to share the blessing they have given me! 
Silence has provided healing and I am beginning to understand my need to put the pen to rest for moments or more until the time is right.  It's as if I am a watering can.  Full.  With a need to water so many things in a day.  To water the plants that need it the most.  To water some of the ones that could use it.  But is there enough water in the can to create a puddle to splash in?  What happens when it's empty?  Only the most essential uses get attention.  The others do when there is excess in the can. 
I feel a need to conserve energy.  Do I want to spend that energy playing with Peyton and delving in deep with him, or cooking and planning meals?  Do I want to spend energy nurturing Jordan's heart or participating in an activity?  There is a cost to everything right now, as if I have all of a sudden been made aware of the balance, or the balance has been made lower.  Grieving takes so much work!  Even on the days I don't go to the deep places or feel I am actively grieving.  I had forgotten the physiological impact of grief!  Even while there is so much peace and joy.

To everyone following this tender shoot, thank you.  I will be back now and again, when the needs of my mind and my hands overwhelm my heart.  There are still so many thoughts asking for ink.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

I feel conflicted about what to write tonight and I know I will run out of steam long before I have written all I want to say.  I feel a deep need to say thank you to everyone that participated in any way in the amazing day we had on Saturday with the balloon release for Piper.  I want to dedicate an entire post to that, and tried to write it last night but did not have enough emotional capacity left to write even a sentence... I tried - unsuccessfully!  Tonight though, I feel an even greater need to dedicate today's post to the amazing fathers in my life so that one will have to wait one more day.

Jordan, I am your biggest admirer.  There is little in life that is as endearing to me as watching you with our children.  I have watched you grow in fatherhood over the last 8 years from one who rarely handled children or knew what to do with them to one who is skilled at parenting in so many ways.  I marvel as I watch your patience with Peyton when he is attacking you with pillows, with Nerf bullets or with his little sharp jabs; you not only exude patience, but you also radiate joy in those moments.  Your emotions are not those of a parent just doing his job of meeting the child's need, but those of one truly enjoying every moment with his child.  Watching the way you adored Piper and so gently and tenderly loved on her fills my heart even now just remembering it.  I knew something had changed you deeply when you were willing to spend even your most exhausted moments with her, cuddling, reading books, "wrestling," and sometimes even feeding her.  Every one needs to have moments of reprieve and you deserve these, but I just want to say thank you for dedicating so many of them to her over the last year.  You have loved Peyton, Drew and Piper so well - they are blessed to be able to have you for their Daddy, and I am blessed to have you by my side.  Happy Father's Day my love!

To My Dad, Dennis: I have been an adoring fan of yours for as long as I can remember and probably longer than that!  You have been everything I could have ever asked for in a dad and more.  In the last year, I watched you pour out your heart on behalf of my family, showing how deep your love for your children goes.  Thank you.  You sacrificed a lot to come up here and spend so much time with our family during Piper's last two months here, but there was never a question as to whether you were doing the right thing.  Watching you love on my children has deepened my love for, and respect of, you in so many ways, and there has been no better way to show love to me than to love my children so much.  I will always remember watching you cuddle with Piper and Drew in the early morning hours.  Knowing that they were loved by you brings me joy.  What an incredible gift.  Thank you.  Happy Father's Day!


To My Father-In-Law, Kevin: You are my favourite father-in-law!  You are also a treasure in my life.  I value your wisdom so much, and I value the fact that you are willing to share it with me even more.  Thank you for all the times you sit and listen, and for the times you set me on a straighter course.  You inspire me to be more.  Thank you for loving Jordan the way you do too - I am so blessed to be part of this family.  Your love for him, and for our children provides a rich legacy for our family.  I deeply treasure your relationship with Peyton and I will always value the time you spent capitalizing on moments with Piper.  Thank you.  Happy Father's Day!

To my heavenly Father... the one who understands me better than I do myself... I am humbled and have no words to say to the one who deserves my greatest thanks both today and every day.  I need your love desperately, and I long for your embrace.  You hold two of my children in your arms and I am so grateful to know that their every need is met in so many more ways than I could have ever provided.  To say thank you to you is simply not enough.

Happy Father's Day to every dad out there today... I hope you know how valuable you are to your children!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What would I say to myself?

To everyone who tries to find the right thing to say and takes a stab at it, thank you.  You are a brave soul.  To everyone else who doesn't know the right thing to say or worries about saying the wrong thing, I get it.  I wouldn't know what to say to myself either!  There really are no "right" words to say, but your effort at trying communicates that you care.  How can you find the right words to comfort one when their greatest desires cannot be granted and you really cannot fix their pain?

After Drew died, I found the question, "How are you?" so difficult to answer.  I knew people meant well but each time I heard that I had to figure out how to respond, when it was such a loaded question.  Was I in the mood to dig deep and share my emotions, did I have the time or the energy to open up, or would I rather just give an easy answer?  Each time I had to make a decision; the answer never came without contemplation.  Thankfully, my perspective changed on this before Piper died.  David and Nancy Guthrie have written a book called, "When Your Family's Lost a Loved One" that helped me see through the "how are you's" to the heart of the question.  There is even a chapter titled, "How are you?" !!  When David talked about how the question made him feel, I was right there with him.  I felt like he had taken the words out of my mouth!  But his response was so full of grace.  He decided to look past the question to the intent of the question.  I may have thought this, but needed to see it put into words and validated by another with similar experience I guess, in order to really get it this time around.  So now, every time I hear the question, "How are you?" I am just so glad someone cares enough to ask.  I am glad people take the time to stop and say, "I just don't know what to say!"  I even get it when I pass someone and they look at me with a look of compassion but don't stop because they are afraid they might say the wrong thing.  I feel your support.  Don't be afraid to say the wrong thing... Jordan and I both are just glad you care!  And if we are ready to share, we will.

I really learned what it's like to not know what to say when a close friend's daughter died a year ago.  We had talked many times and always had plenty to talk about; finding the right words had never been a problem until her world turned upside-down.  The first time I saw the mother after her daughter died, I found myself speechless.  Me, with my love of words... speechless.  Absolutely and dumbfoundingly at a loss for words.  What could I say?  And how to say it?  In that moment, my eyes were opened to the difficulty of trying to soothe a deep wound with the smallest of bandaids.  As a result, between David Guthrie's grace and this realization, this time I don't expect any to have the right words to say.  I just appreciate the courage shown when someone ventures into this uncertain territory, whether it's by email, by comment here, in person, on the phone, etc.  I know there are many who don't even know whether to comment at all, and I get this too.  It would be so difficult to be in the shoes opposite ours right now... I wouldn't know what to say either.

For the many who are afraid to ask about my dear children, I just want to give you permission to talk about them.  Piper and Drew are still a very important part of our family, our daily life, our conversations, our motivation and our hearts.  There are few things parents like to do more than to talk about their children; this doesn't change for us, it just gets complicated.  We like to be able to talk about them, and to hear about yours.  We love to hear how our children have impacted your lives; it helps us celebrate them!  We also like to hear about your children and to compare notes, or to laugh at the oddities, joys and trials parenthood provide.  These conversations are not uncomfortable for us, they allow our children to continue to live in our hearts.  We do not believe they are dead... but that they are alive!  Perhaps their frail bodies are gone, but their spirits will live on forever and we rejoice in the hope of seeing them again.  My spirit pushes against the walls of this body with anticipation and joy when I imagine my spirit recognizing theirs in Heaven and I long for this reunion, even as I realize how little I know about this aspect.  I can almost feel that moment of recognition and my heart pounds as I think about it at this moment.  So with this perspective, how can we stop talking about them as if once their bodies died they ceased to exist?

To expand on the thoughts above just a bit more, if I was in another's shoes I might worry about upsetting Jordan or (Kari) by sharing something I had learned or changed in my parenting or life perspective.  Jordan and I have talked about this and strangely, it has the opposite affect.  We are just so glad to see that our experiences are helping others.  There is something so therapeutic about being able to help!  It makes us rejoice in Drew and Piper, humbled that God is using their lives to change hearts or to motivate others to enjoy a moment, to stop for a kiss, to stay for a snuggle, or to slow life down.  We would be more heartbroken if our losses were for nothing, that those around us didn't feel our experience deeply enough to realize their blessings.  I don't think I can say this well enough but I hope that you can feel my heart when I am sharing this.  It is not a selfish pride, but a feeling of being overwhelmed at being able to be part of this!  I will say it again; my spirit is full even as my heart aches!

Thank you for bearing with me as I try to put words together on a night when I can't seem to connect the dots to form a picture, but I felt a deep need to tell you, dear friends, that I am just grateful for your intentions... whether revealed in words or not!  I may not say thank you in the right way for all you do, but I am thinking it!  (I could write a whole post about this... but won't until I can connect the dots!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

One month today

I sure miss those baby kisses!  I love the kisses I get from my 7-year-old but there is just nothing like kisses from a baby!  It has been a month today since Piper donned her dancing shoes.  I miss her just as much today, or possibly more.  It was a remarkable day though, and my spirit is full even as my heart aches.  I am sitting outside as I write this and the sky is shades of pink, as if it's a tender caress from the one who knows my heart and a soft hello from my daughter.  There are things my heart is thankful for even now.

Today Peyton was off.  He was just not himself.  I am not going to complain though.  As strange and "needy" as this may sound, his need for me today of all days was balm for my soul.  He has been back to school for a week and a half now and I have been there for some or all of each day to provide support for him.  He has been pretty good and hasn't shown too many signs of grief in the classroom.  Today however, he was different.  He was not outwardly sad, he just needed closeness.  I told him I might leave after the first recess, but he didn't want to have anything to do with that idea.  Anytime he wasn't in his desk (beckoning for me to come help him with something) he wanted to be on my lap.  It may seem a bit strange that a 7-year-old should be sitting on my lap during class-time and my mind's instinct was to urge him to sit by himself, but my heart's instinct told me not to turn him away.  He sat there trying to get his cheek as close to my cheek as he could, almost desperate for that warmth and connection.  His teacher and I agreed it was probably best for me to stay, but she wouldn't have had to twist my arm to convince me to.  Jordan and I had not told him that this was the 1-month-anniversary, or even acted unusual this morning, but he seemed to feel Piper's absence today and to need my presence more.  He was moodier than usual the rest of the day too, but could not have put words to what he was feeling if he had tried.  His emotions come out in the strangest ways.  We sat working on a school project this afternoon where he had to write some facts about grizzly bears.  One of the facts he chose to write about from the National Geographic website was that about half of all grizzly cubs will die before they turn one.  My insides twisted when he had to write a sentence with this fact, worried about how he would feel about it.  I assumed he would draw a connection to his loss of Piper.  He struggled to write the sentence and began to melt down about not wanting to write sentences and how hard it was.  This was not an uncommon response for this project, but it brought tears this time.  I mentioned that it seemed this sentence was making him feel sad.  He said it was.  I told him if it made him too sad about Piper he could pick a different fact.  He said he wasn't feeling sad about that at all, but that he just didn't want to write sentences.  Simple as that.  And I think I believe him, although I am not fully convinced still.  I think there may have been some "grief brain" (thank you Karen for this term!) that was deeply underlying his emotional state of being all day, but I don't think that is what caused the tears about this project.  I think he really was just upset he had to do homework!  It was a wake-up call to remember that the connections I draw and the grief that I experience will not be the same as what he experiences.  I am not fully convinced of what was going on today or what that incident was all about and am on guard in case it is grief speaking, but I have to remind myself that he does not yet think like an adult.  Thank goodness!  He was laughing in the next minute - and I marvelled at the way he could change so quickly.  My dear sweet boy.

Thank you to the sweet friends who sent flowers today, remembering the significance of the date.  Thank you to the many more that prayed for us today.  God is working through you in our lives.  I feel joy in this moment because of Him working.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Grief and gifts

I think perhaps my mind has been on hiatus for the last few weeks as one could imagine.  But what have the last few weeks looked like?  Does one in this position sit and cry all the time?  Do they go into withdrawal after sitting and cuddling for hours and days on end?  Do they experience despair?  One thing I know for sure is that my experience may not be the same as any other's in grief and that in grief, there is no norm.  I remind myself of this even now as I deal with feelings of wanting to "do grief right," and, "will it look the same as last time?"  I have been high and low, and really high and really low, and many places in between.  Tonight as I sit here, my spirit is full to overflowing even as my heart aches.  How can that be?  I do not feel sad right now (at least, not in this minute!); I feel privileged, blessed, overwhelmed by God's goodness at filling our cup.  But the sadness is in the offing.  It springs up unexpectedly in the most surprising moments, even more than in the expected moments.  It is cathartic though, and I value the opportunity to indulge in my feelings when the timing is right (this is where experience guides or complicates my grief).  I don't fear the sadness, or wish it away, but I don't want to sit in it all day.  There is too much to be thankful for, to laugh at, to love and to enjoy - these things move the pain to a back burner to simmer, hopefully until an opportune time when I can sit in my own space and give in to the depth of emotion.  I find I want these moments to myself.  To share with Piper.  And God.  As many in grief might say, it's in these moments I feel closest to Piper.  I'm able to run through memories of her, to imagine her here, to try to feel her again, to talk to her.  I also feel closest to God in these times.  Piper has gifted me with this opportunity.  I know a time will come where the sadness will change, and that is probably a good thing; for now though, I will walk through a season of mourning, glad for an opportunity to cry, and that is the way it should be when I am missing a part of me.

Some gifts Piper has given us:

Intentional relationship:
I am so thankful for the times we stopped the world and took time to enjoy connectedness.  Time to stop and really enjoy each other and the unique way each contributes to our family.

I miss Piper for Peyton deeply.  I want to write a post all about them, and about how he is doing, but this is my sore spot.  The spot that will take the most fortitude to explore, let alone visit.  For now though, I smile thinking of the camaraderie and connection they have shared.  Drew taught us to create and value opportunities for sibling interactions and what a blessing that was this time around.  There is very little that resembles the relationship siblings share.  I hope Peyton will remember and know how much his little sister loved him!  Their interactions were ones that often caused me to stop everything and just sit and enjoy, or to sneak up and observe from a distance so as not to change the dynamic!  These pictures just seem to shout to me of complete joy in, and of, relationship.

I am so in love with my husband because of the way he loves my children.  It is hard to determine who is enjoying these moments pictured more!  I have learned (and am still learning) to look at the ways my children gain from their relationship with Jordan and have marvelled at the way he loves them.

These are the moments I miss the most; the ones where Piper is close to my heart, within my protective embrace, within the immediate circle of my love.  I have been so blessed by the love of this little girl!

(hiking at Lake Louise last summer)
Heart-filling "child moments" from today:
1)  I was picking out a couple books for a friend's baby shower today and felt so many feelings, but felt anticipation of joy for this family that they would soon be changed by the love of a baby.  
2)  I am afraid I left the bookstore with way too many books because I was thinking with my emotions instead of my pocketbook!  I was also nearly brought to tears multiple times: once, when mother of a little girl with big blue eyes stood showing her daughter books to determine which ones tickled her fancy the most, just as I had done with Piper months ago in exactly the same spot, marvelling at her proficiency in showing her preferences.  And a second time when I spotted a book that had been one of Piper's favourites that I hadn't seen in months.  I could vividly see her little fingers working their way over the book, experiencing everything there was to experience on each page.  I stood there ready to cry, trying to keep my composure so as not to cause discomfort to those standing nearby, overwhelmed with love for my little girl, and thankful to have known her.  To have been able to read with her.  To have had my heart painted by the colours of her love and the touch of her fingers.
3)  Peyton caused me to smile this afternoon by including me in one of his rare verbal rambles.  I had been out for the morning and last night at a Beth Moore conference (AMAZING), and it was as if he had bottled up all the occasional sentences we might have swapped in that time and then released the cork after I came home.  He talked in circles!  We usually stop at half of one circle!  What fun.  He is such a blessing to me right now; thank goodness for the way children enjoy life!  It is contagious.

A lesson I learned this week:  
Look at the world through Peyton's eyes.  Instead of giving an answer that comes off the top of my head while I continue with my path, stop and give an answer from my heart.  One that investigates his world and values his perspective.  I hope I remember this one as I get caught up in the daily responsibilities of life.

A reflection on Piper:
If I was so awed and overwhelmed by the presence of God during the chance to praise God in song this weekend, the thought of what Piper is experiencing can only bring me joy.  I reflected on how so many of those I observed seemed to feel a compulsion to move from somewhere deep inside as they sang, and on how it suggests they are only a change in restraint away from breaking out in dancing.  One of the gifts of my day was the one lady who did dance, who broke free of our mental restraints for just a moment and gave way to the need to break out in a physical expression of love through movement.  Just for a moment, she twirled and swayed, only to return again to restraint, but her spirit had already shown its desires.  The clincher was that she was wearing pink.