Friday, July 22, 2011


I returned home yesterday from an exhausting week in Indianapolis. I went to help my Mom sort through my grandma's house and separate her husband's things. He passed away a few weeks ago after he fell and suffered a broken hip and collapsed lung. My Nanny is in a nursing home suffering with end stage Alzheimer's disease. It was so weird being at her house and rummaging through all her things while she is still alive. Alive in the sense of breathing and having a beating heart. It feels as though she is gone and I've missed her for many years. Her body is here but she is not, as is the way with this cruel disease.

One of the things I found was a journal she kept. There were actually tons of these-where she shared her spiritual insights and ramblings. Things that seem so minor--disagreements with neighbors, feelings towards co-workers and she continued to bring them to the Lord begging for wisdom in her response. In recent years, her mind began to fail, and she began to question if she had a relationship with the Lord. As her family, we brought her back to all the spiritual insights and wisdom she had taught us. We pointed her back to the fruits that were evident in her life. But some took advantage of this opportunity and joined in her disbelief. So she was baptized again and accepted Christ again. It was hard to watch. It was even harder to think about as I read through some of these journals. This woman had such communion with God. I was reading her most personal spiritual thoughts and was still learning from her. We have such a rich spiritual heritage from her. She devoted her life to serving the Lord and volunteering her time.

I am saddened that she is dying, though it feels like she is already gone. About a month ago she was still able to speak on the phone and she thanked me for coming to be with her. "Of course!" I replied. "You are my Nanny and I love you!" and her words will stay with me forever. "And I love being your Nanny." It was a rare moment of clarity for her but a true gift for me. There hasn't been much of a connection for some time but these moments are packed away in my memory box for good.

She will be joining her great-granddaughter in Heaven soon--probably a matter of days. Her eyes will be perfect, her mind will be whole and she will have no more suffering. I have to put in here a quote that I have posted before but it sure seems fitting to use it again.

"I am standing on the seashore. A ship spread her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean. I stand watching her until she fades on the horizon, and someone at my side says , "She is gone." Gone where? The loss of sight is in me, not in her. Just at the moment someone says, "She is gone, " there are others who are watching her coming. Other voices take up the glad shout, "Here she comes," and that is dying." Henry Scott Holland

Blessings to you and your family.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Callie's Birthday Celebration

4 years ago tonight I was dreading the burial of our daughter, Callie. We left the hospital on Friday, the day she was born and the next few days were a blur. Saturday we had to go pick out an outfit for her to be buried in and go to the funeral home to make arrangements. I cannot tell you the pain of having just given birth, walking through a store (they didn't have a wheelchair) and heading back to the baby department--still looking pregnant. We looked for quite awhile and finally decided on a little pink and purple plaid dress that had a sweater with it. We took it along with the other things we had chosen to be buried with her and went to the funeral home. We made all the necessary decisions and signed all the papers and then went to see her casket. We thought we would be seeing her. I thought I would at least get to see her on the day we buried her. We learned that day that we wouldn't get to see her again. Once she was in the casket it couldn't be opened. I would never get to see her in the dress. And we had to narrow down what we wanted to go with wouldn't all fit. More heart break. So we chose an "I love Daddy bib", her pink silly buddy and in her hand she held a ceramic heart that fits in the middle of a larger heart that I kept. I remember just sitting in our car, crying together. This was it.

On her birthday, it has always been hard to come up with a term to define the day. Celebrate always seemed too happy to me. However, the dictionary definition of celebrate seems quite fitting. "To observe with ceremonies of respect; To make widely known" That is obviously condensed but that is what stuck out to me. So, we did celebrate her birthday.

This year, we had decided to take the kids to a neat park downtown. There is a carousel, a splash pad, walking bridge and tons of open space. We want to have fun with the kids but also take the day to tell more of Callie's story. So we went to dinner at Cheeburger Cheeburger (one of our favorite burger places) and then went to ride the carousel. We took some time walking around and then went to the water's edge. It may sound easy but it was quite an adventure getting all of us out there on the rocks! Corban ended up in the water quite a few times. Once we were out there we took the roses that we had given the kids and plucked off the petals. As we sang "Happy Birthday" to Callie we threw our petals in the water. We explained that we were doing this for sissy in Heaven. We ended the night with ice cream at an old fashioned soda shop.

During our bedtime routine, I was in Corban's bed reading and praying with him. I explained that he had 2 sissys. One in Heaven. One here. He looked kind of confused and pointed to sissy in her crib. "Sissy?" "Yes, you have one sissy here with you and one in Heaven. You have 2 sissys." "2 sissys?" "Yes." "2 sissys. Me have 2 sissys."

This just made me smile. He will continue to get it piece by piece. But for now we will continue to have our celebration of Callie's life. It was a beautiful time together as a family celebrating the little girl who made me a Mom and has shaped the Mom I am today.