George Charles Garman 09/09/09 to 01/29/10

January 29, 2010 our world was turned upside down when our 4 month old little boy earned his wings after a battle with Mitochondrial Disease and awoke in the Lords loving arms.

"Life can not be measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away."

George's Guardian's of Grace Projects

Stocking project is now in full force collecting donations. We have a list of the items we can use. You can also choose to sponsor a stocking in memory or honor of someone else. We will include a paragraph or two in the cards we place in the stockings to let the recipient know about the person that means so much to you. Our paypal account is posted on this page and ready to take donations. Email us for a list of items needed or with any questions or information you would like included on a sponsored stocking/donation.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One of My Favorite Cartoons...Not In the USA

This one reminds me of the love shown for us as we have walked this path.

This makes me think of the special and precious gift that life really is.

This makes me think of my little monkey...I LOVE this one.

This reminds me of friends and family who have been there for us through all we have had to endure.

This little character always reminds me of Germany and my best friend in Germany who I wish lived here. They don't carry these little guys in the United States even though I wish they did. I don't know what made me think to look up this cartoon tonight but I was missing my best friend and being able to talk to her regularly and really wish she was here not in Germany...she really does understand me. We have had our ups and downs but in the end we are always there for one another in whatever capacity we can be. I miss her dearly!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I only have a picture now,
A frozen piece of time,
To remind me of how it was,
when you were here, and mine.
I see your smiling eyes,
Each morning when I wake,
I talk to you, and place a kiss,
upon your lovely face.
How much I miss you being here,
I really can not say,
The ache is deep inside my heart,
And never goes away.
I hear it mentioned often,
That time will heal the pain,
But if I'm being honest,
I hope it will remain.
I need to feel you constantly,
To get me through the day,
I loved you so very much.
Why did you go away?
The angels came and took you,
That really wasn't fair,
If only they had asked me,
If I would take your place,
I would have done so willingly,
leaving this world to grace.
You should have had so many years,
To watch your life unfold,
And in the mist of this,
Watch me, your Mum grow old.
I hope you watch from above,
At the daily tasks I do,
And let there be no doubt at all,
I really do love you and miss you.

Not sure who wrote this, I came across it some where but the words r beautiful xxx
The cord

We are connected my child and I
By an invisible cord not seen by the eye
Its not like the cord that connects us til birth
This cord can't be seen by any on Earth.
This cord does its work right from the start
It binds us together attached to my heart.
I know that its there though no one can see
The invisible cord from my child to me.
The strength of this cord is hard to describe
It can't be destroyed it can't be denied.
Its stronger than any cord man could create.
It withstands the test can hold any weight.
And though you are gone though you are not here with me
The cord is still there though no one can see.
It pulls at my heart
I am bruised I am sore
But this cord is my lifeline as never before.
I am thankful that God connects us this way
A mother and child death can't take away!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!

May God be with you and your family this holiday season. Tonight begins our festivities with our church play that I am running. Please keep us in your prayers especially Josh and Mike who are sick and Gabby seems to have a touch of whatever it is. They aren't running fevers so that is great but their congestion is pretty bad and we have been doing nebulizer treatments and smart vest treatments. Hugh unfortunately is working today so he will miss much of the beginning things. After church I will return home with the kids since I don't want the boys getting sicker or getting anyone else sick. Tomorrow everyone comes to my mom's place so there is no avoiding it but I am going to try my best to keep them in bed as long as I can after gifts.

This is our second year without George and the hardest thus far. It has been so hard infact that I have not had it in me to even write about it. By the time I get to it, I am so exhausted on all levels I just go to sleep. Under his tree this year are two gifts from his family. This second year has just been terrible and yet I cannot even believe we are coming to the end of the two year mark. It seems as if yesterday he died. The hard part is that from Sept until February I am just filled with so many mixed emotions and higher anxiety and depression in general. Those are the months he was alive so I have memories to compare to.

Anyway, I just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Shear Pain

The past two days have been full of heartache and pain for me. So often I find myself choking back tears. Tonight I woke up with George on my mind and just could not go back to sleep. My heart is just aching and writhing in pain. I thought that doing this project would make it easier and in some ways it did and others it didn't. I'm proud of the project and all we did to make this happen however I want my son rather than a bunch of stockings. People say it is a good thing and I know that it was but I want my baby back, not having to remember him this way. Life is so hard to live without him.

For Christmas, I am asking any of you who read this to please leave a message below in the comment section here. Please let us know how George touched your life. I've asked for people to do this sort of thing before and they haven't but I am asking that you take a few moments just to let me know how he has changed your life for the better. I guess in some way I need to know that there is some validation for all this pain that I carry in my heart. Please do this as a gift to me.

Thank You!

I want to thank you all for helping to make this stocking project take off. We were blessed to be able to fill all 100 stockings in George's memory and that of others in heaven. This was the project for us that truly touched our hearts on a different level. We never could have done it without all of those who helped. Below are some pictures of our project. My favorite one is the one of Gabby in our shopping cart full of items for the stockings...her innocence in this all is captured and just precious as we honor her big brother's memory. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts!


When little ones leave us we seem to think,
Their lives were somehow incomplete .
Yet, we may not see the role they play
In helping someone else see the way.

Who knows what blessing their life may bring,
Though seemingly such a tragic thing.
For Maybe some lost soul will see
His desperate need of Calvary.

A mom might begin to treasure her role
As she realizes her investment in a soul.
Maybe a dad will spend more time
Making memories versus spending a dime.

Maybe a sibling will stop to pray
Before choosing unkind words to say.
Maybe hurt feeling will begin to mend
To secure their bond with a friend.

Who knows the impact a life can make;
There is a purpose for Heaven’s sake.
So though we hate to say goodbye;
We know that Jesus now holds you nigh!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Your Only Christmas

I have been thinking so much of you lately. We were blessed to have one Christmas with you. I remember all the time leading up to the day. Our family had matching pajamas and you actually fell asleep while we were opening gifts. The weeks coming before were ones full of planning since the day following Christmas day, we were headed to Florida for our first trip to Disney as a family. Those days were the happiest I had during your life. The picture above was one of my favorite and I remember getting on the floor with you to take your picture. Life without you is so hard, especially the holidays when we did have you. The only thing that I think of was that time you were with us. So often my memories feel more like a dream rather than a memory. Our time with you was so brief that it just seems so unreal. I miss you with all my heart. It is so hard for me to just get up and move through the days sometimes. Today I just couldn't keep my eyes open and slept a good portion of the day and could probably have slept more had your siblings not been here. Our lives without you have become so very different than I had ever thought or planned. Random things will make me think of you and I just cry. The past few nights I have just felt the need to cry myself to sleep. I miss you so much and there are days that the pain feels as if it is unbearable. There are many moments I am overwhelmed but there rare also moments of sheer thankfulness for God letting me be your mommy and to have 9 months with you to myself along with the time you were here with us after you were born. It is so hard sometimes to think that I knew you longer in my womb than I did in my arms. I was so blessed to be your mommy and wish I had you here with me longer. Please know you are not forgotten, even if everyone else forgets, I won't and I will always keep your memory alive as long as I am breathing. I hope heaven is all that it is said to be and that we get to be together again someday. You are truly my kindred spirit and just knew my soul in a way that no one else ever has and ironically you never even spoke a word! Merry Christmas little monkey, I love you so much!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Blues

I have had some serious holiday blues this year. At first, I was really trying not to post on here but it has not really helped any. Often times, if I post about my problems I will hear about it by some people and that is just not something I wanted to deal with at all. It is hard enough to walk this path, I hate to have to deal with people who have never walked in my shoes or takes what I say to heart. Even though I have often posted that these are raw emotions shared so that others can understand on a deeper level what is really going on I still will hear about posts in some capacity. With all the feelings that the holidays bring up, I just knew that this year I was not up to adding having to deal with flack from others who just don't get it. In general I have done pretty good with it.

I have had so many ups and downs. It has been another tough year for our family on so many fronts. This of course is always exacerbated by the holidays and how it is like rubbing salt in an open wound not only because of the lack funds makes it depressing itself but add in George being dead and it takes all I have every second of the day to just keep pushing through each day. Not being in our own place also adds its own level of stress for so many reasons. Most of all, I so often don't have time to myself and it is exhausting to constantly feel as if I have to have it together all the time and keep on top of the kids and my emotions just so that there is not any added issue. All of this is exhausting to the max and if you add in that each day I am feeling more and more of my own disease taking over my body and having a hard time fighting it or really letting on how bad it really is for me.

I hate yet again to have another holiday season that we won't be able to shop for our own children. We have gotten so used to this but that doesn't mean anything and doesn't make it any easier. If we didn't take help though, they would not have anything at all so even if it is a little help, it is better than nothing at all. In order for me to really keep it all into perspective I have really been working hard on making the stocking project for the homeless a big focus of mine. I'm really proud of all that I am doing and even though we don't have much, I know that things could be worse. I just about lost it yesterday when someone told me to just be grateful for what I have and not feel sorry for myself. Um, can't I just have a bad day?! Guess not! I'm the most grateful person in the world and think that this project just proves it on such a grander scale.

This past week was even harder than normal with it being Gabby's 1st birthday. George never got to see his and although I was so happy she did, it was not easy at all. There were moments I had to choke back tears. Her actual birthday I had planned to do with her what I do with the boys by having a birthday dinner and cake after. I had thought that a friend was doing her fundraiser to help us with stocking items was that night but I was wrong and it was the night before. I was going to head there after the festivities but nothing happened at all. Hugh had made plans with his siblings to talk about their mom without even thinking or reaizing it was Gabby's birthday and our typical family traditions. They all got blown out the window when he decided to take all the boys and just left my mom and I home with Gabby. She fell asleep before he ever got home so even the cupcakes I got for her never even got used to celebrate. I went to bed that night in tears hoping that I could get over it and telling myself that I was over reacting but it didn't work and I just cried myself to sleep.

Most people see this sort of thing as odd or way too emotional but they have not walked my shoes. First of all, I have waited my whole life to have a daughter and second my son died so there is a lot more involved. Nothing is cut and dry for me and never has been but especially now it is even harder. Her birthday party was nice but I was just so bummed from the day before and I had so much work that I had to do alone that it was just not what I had envisioned. There were so many emotions and just so much on my plate I didn't even really enjoy it like I had hoped to. It is over so just to look forward to next year rather than back. Things just kept happening one after another and people who said they were coming didn't show(we had ordered food and prepared for 45 but only about half of that showed and we were out money we didn't have to waste) I think I was hoping it would turn around the holiday season for me and when things just got all messed up, it was just like everything else in my life felt, just not what I had hoped for.

I know often times God doesn't give us what we want but rather what we need. No matter how many times I say this and know this in my heart, it doesn't make it any easier. I did not choose this life, it chose me so that doesn't make it easy. There are moments I feel overwhelmed with gratefulness and then there are those where I am overwhelmed by total sadness. The happiness is like you are finally able to smile and forget your problems for a short amount of time but it is very short lived. Life hits and you are brought back to reality and overcome by the sadness that has become a constant in your life. It often times feels like the darkest part of your life...kind of like a room that is pitch black and you are not familiar with the room at all so you have to feel your way around in the dark with no aide.

This year is so much harder than last year. I was very preoccupied with Gabrielle's birth that I could wrap myself up in baby things. This year I feel very trapped and stuck in my own body forced to constantly smile and pretend it is all ok when inside I am not ok. It is even harder when you add in my physical issues. My pain has been very high and I am just so exhausted! By the end of the night I am ready to go to sleep but I can't since any downtime I have is spent doing other things and keeping it all together and trying to figure out how to put gifts under the tree for the kids, pay bills, and just keep myself together. I remember when there was a time that I looked forward to this time of year and even though I do for my children, I don't for myself now.

Not only was this the time of year that we had with George, it was also the time leading up to his death. He was also conceived this time of year so it is always so hard for me to just think about that. My grandparents had both just died a month apart from one another and it was like they had given him to us. We had wanted another child for a while at that point but had not yet been blessed with one but he was there right after they died. I knew as soon as I found out he was going to be joining our family that he would be named after my grandfather to carry on that name. I would love to have another baby around this time of year for them to be born in Sept just like he was.

Even though I would not have a problem with this so many others would hate it and I am already always told that I don't need anymore children. When people ask if I am pregnant, they will say it joking kind of but always say "thank God!!!" when I say no. You might as well stab me in the heart! Hearing these sorts of responses just hurts so bad especially when they all root my sister on and are coaxing her to have more. None of my children were welcome by others but Hugh and I wanted each and every one of them even if no one else did. It just hurts so bad to hear it come from others mouths. We aren't ready for a baby right now and know I need to get my heath situated not to mention our other issues but that doesn't make it hurt any less when people say things like this. Right now, this time of year it is so hard to hear it too since this is when George blessed our family for the first time.

I find this an odd topic with a recent famous family with 20 children in it lost one of the babies that the mom was carrying. So many people were making comments like that was better anyway...they didn't need 20 children. How anyone could ever say that is beyond me but I have only 5 with one of them in heaven and I get that, can't even imagine being them. My heart just broke for this family to hear of their loss but also to hear the comments made because I heard so many similar things my whole life but also when George died, some people would try to be helpful but only hurt me in the end. I hate the comment that is he was better off, he could have been a sick little boy...I know that but would you walk away from your child if they were sick or what one of your children would you give up. So often you know people don't mean what they say or are just trying to get through a moment not intentionally trying to hurt you but they do. Words cut deeper than any knife and try to put yourself in the other person's may not walk them but lord knows you can be conscious not to run them over on the path of life.

I don't know if I will post again before the holidays but I wish you a Merry Christmas and pray for all who know my pain because they do walk my shoes and are living this season without their child with them. I know we all feel this way in some capacity...mixed feelings/emotions. You kind of feel bipolar in a way...happy on minute and sad the next. No one wants to feel like this because we know we are not easy to be around and nor are you spending time with the "real" us. If you know someone having a hard time this season, for any reason, reach out to them somehow and offer some sort of comfort or joy...isn't that what it is all about in the end? I hope our stocking projects bring this to those who will be receiving them.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Stocking Pictures

Here are some pictures from our prep of the Christmas stockings for the homeless. We still have lots of work to do but has been such a blessing to do this for them.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Grieving Mother

This picture just sums up the feelings of a grieving mother! It just touched my heart today as I sit here missing my little monkey thinking there are only 2 months left until he will be gone for 2 years...just brings so much pain to my heart and tears to my eyes every single time I think of it!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stockings for the Homeless

I know I posted before about the stocking project we are doing in George's memory. I have completed 83 stockings thus far. The boys and I will create small Christmas tree ornaments to add so they have their own little tree for the holidays. We want to fill each stocking with:

set of gloves
pair of socks
granola bar
candy of some sort
small precooked meal(hormel makes a small meal or there are small containers of spaghetti o's)

These items are not expensive but if I were to do it myself for 100 it would just be impossible. I have been able to collect some of the toiletries for free from several people. I've come up with a great idea and hope that people really find it in their heart to help us make this happen and also to just give a little bit of Christmas to a homeless person.

$5 will sponsor the cost of a stocking and it's contents
You can also purchase any of the items above and have them sent to me or I can pick up locally.

If you choose to sponsor one in honor or memory of someone I would like to place a card in the stockings giving some information about the person and what they mean to you. This will give the people a sense that someone cares enough to think of them and also gives them some insight to the individual who cared enough to give them a Christmas. I really hope we can get all the stockings sponsored.

On the right side of this page is a listing for our pay pal account. There is nothing in it currently but we want to use it to collect the money to sponsor a stocking. If you sponsor through pay pal please don't hesitate to email me or leave a message with the information on your loved one you would like to share with those less fortunate. Please help our family in this endeavor.

Email your personalized information about your loved one for the card that will be placed in the stockings.

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's Not Fair

None of this is one should have to live with this sort of pain in their hearts. I miss my son so bad and I just want him back. I want my life back and the person I was before he died. My heart is breaking every moment of every day as I live without him and it just isn't fair. Why did God have to take him? Haven't I been through enough in my life? Keep adding up the bad stuff to see how much I can that the plan? I'm tired of being strong and being told to stay strong or that I can handle this since God gave it to me to deal with. I'd like to tell those who say that to me to live through it all and see how well they fair...they are lucky I get up every day and breath. I'm just so tired of being strong...none of this is fair and I am so tired of watching others get what they want and even be blessed beyond belief and they are not even nice people. I don't get it. Why didn't God have one miracle for my little boy? Why didn't he give him back to me? I want to be the mom I used to be, not the mom who is always missing part of herself. What ever happened to fair...I guess I should just take that word out of my vocabulary.

Why do I share these very negative feelings? First of all, it helps me to share these random thoughts that fly through my mind on a daily basis. Second, I want others to know they are not alone when they are having these feelings. Third, to allow others who don't walk this path, an insight to what we live with on a daily basis and hopefully allow you to be a kinder person to those who are walking this path. It doesn't make a difference as to how long the child has been gone, these feelings are all too real and even if you seem to handle it while inside you may not be. Often times we are expected to be strong and even told that by some of our closest friends and family which alienates us even further. Give us some slack often, we are strong way to long!

The holidays are coming and this is no longer a happy time for us. Yes we have things to be thankful for and other things we love but we also have things to be unthankful for with part of us living in heaven. Think of how you would feel. For myself, this year is even worse than last year was and I am just dreading the upcoming week for so many reasons. He was here two years ago and alive and I don't know if that is suppose to be easier but it isn't. There are suppose to be a house full of people here at my mom's and I can't even escape if I wanted to since I no longer have my own home to go to like I did last year. Going to be very hard for me. Christmas is even as bad so I am personally having a hard time right now...add in loosing my home and wham you have a holiday season not only filled with things to be thankful for but things to not be. When you have broken your leg, you are not thinking of your leg that is fine, you are thinking of the one that hurts...remember that if you are with someone who has suffered a great loss.

Take the time to remember the other children. So often, I try to make time for my other children but there are moments that I can't think past myself. There is nothing wrong with that and it took me so long to realize that I am not a failure as a mom but rather a great mom because of this. I need to care for myself before I can do that for anyone else. When I have to do this though, I do need people to step in and be there for the boys. So many other parents who suffer my fate, are also left to fend for themselves and somehow find it in themselves to try to be there for their kids even during moments when they barely have enough for themselves. We are not neglectful, we are in pain...imagine breaking both legs and being told to carry a stack of books with you everywhere.

If you know someone who has had a major loss, please think of them this holiday season as they are always hard, don't give them a hat, gift card, or other tangible gift. Give them the gift of understanding and think of something that can help them out without them having to ask for it. Often times a hug can mean more than any gift you can buy from a store!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Black and White

Why is it that seeing things in black and white makes things so much more real and harder to take. We got the paperwork saying the courts were definitely foreclosing on our home. I just stood there and my tears stained the white paper with black writing. It was final, the place we knew as our home is officially going away. The only place George knew as home is no longer going to be ours and it is like leaving a piece of him behind. I think the very thought of that breaks my heart by itself. Each of our children were brought home there and I remember each one of them and how much it meant to me. My heart is just so heavy.

I remember getting Joshua's diagnosis in the mail...yet again another black and while item that was made all to real. In my heart I knew he had Mito but nothing could prepare me for the moment I got it confirmed. Tears were rolling down my face as I sat alone at home with him and the school nurse called about the holidays...I'll never forget it. Through my tears I tried to keep it together as I had to hold a conversation. I almost made it through the conversation but her kindness and sense that something was wrong just broke the wall I was keeping up tumble down like children's blocks. Sobbing on the phone with a stranger was how I spent the moments I found out he had this disease officially.

My very first taste of this black and white reality was when my ex-husband was charged by the FBI. I tried to ignore it and did for so very long. This was my first eye opening experience to the world and when I began to realize life was not what I thought it was. Following that he was sentenced and that paperwork came in making me realize that he was leaving. The fairytale I had wanted in my life was forever life was flipped upside down and I had no idea how to handle it. I really thought that it would be the very worst thing that could happen to me in my life and I was so very wrong! My divorce paperwork followed and slammed shut any hopes I had left to remain blissfully unaware that life was hard and for me it was just the beginning.

The worst black and white papers that I have ever had were the ones that I had to sign giving permission to have my son's body cremated. No parent should ever have to sign a paper like that. The worst paper to ever read was his autopsy report. God it was awful...I knew what they were doing to my baby but seeing it in black and white just ripped my heart from my chest and does every time I even think of it. I still to this day am so thankful for Marsha, Gabrielle's god mother, for taking me to get them and just being there. Others had offered to go but I knew what I was going to read and that I needed someone who had read them before yet could help me to wrap my head all around it when I was hit by seeing in black and white what had happened to my son. Even now tears come to my eyes at the thought of it, I can even visualize the moment I read it and what the paper looked like.

I think part of the house is hard to leave for me because I feel as if we are leaving him behind. It is like we are leaving the good stuff all for a few moments of bad. The pain is so overwhelming at times and that paperwork was just enough to make me feel as if I just could not handle any more. I am so very tired. Being strong for so long and keeping it together has been so hard and I know I have ranted and shared my feelings openly but for the first time I just didn't know what to say or how to feel. It was like all the years before me and all those black and white moments came to me all at once and I just wanted to lay on the floor, close my eyes, and forget the rest of the world exists. Even now, all I want to be able to do is have time to myself but that is not possible. You see those spas where people go away for the weekend and stay there but get massages and all sorts of stuff...boy what I would give for that!!! I can dream:o)

For now, I am praying for God's presence and just the ability to make it day to day right now without loosing it. No one even knows how hard it is for me to make it to the end of a day right now. I find myself walking around having to fight back tears randomly and not for anything but feeling so overwhelmed. This is just not something that counseling can fix. I know why I am here and in this position/mental mind set. Sometimes I think that we need to just be allowed to be sad or feel the need to not keep it together all the times. So often people think we need to walk around happy all the time and if you are sad or having a bad day you need meds or you need counseling. Often times I think people say this because they can't handle seeing you this way. It is when you let it consume your life for a very long time that it is a problem.

Yes I can be son is dead! He is dead and unless your child is dead you don't get it and those who have a dead child are the ones who understand your feelings and would never even say that to you or expect it of you. On top of it every day I deal with a life-threatening disease for myself and my is scary. I worry for myself and my children. My body aches and hurts and I am just exhausted yet I am expected to keep going without complaint or mentioning it because somehow someone has to one up me on their pain. I had my home taken over by the FBI and my ex husband arrested and found that the person I trusted was not worthy of that. Every day I walk a path that many don't understand yet feel the ability to judge me and think that I am a looser/lazy and yet they have no idea of all that I do even though I struggle financially, I don't lack heart and give of that freely!

I need a break from all the black and white in your face moments that just drain you of any color you once had. It is very hard for me right now and I am having a tough time right now. I walk around with a smile on my face but inside I am drained and empty. Each day I push through with very little energy and every last bit of it is sucked out by the end of the day even though I may have really used what I had to give the moment I woke. Life is hard and for a while I am going to be seeking color rather than black and white. I guess that is why God sent a rainbow after the dull gloomy rain.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Moments of Remembrance

These past two days have really been full of moments where I have been remembering George. Gabrielle has been very fussy since she has hand foot mouth virus and is also teething. She has been very clingy. Hugh was working late the other night and my mom and I were both taking turns trying to get her to stop crying. I got her to calm down and she laid her head on my chest just like George used to do...she tucked herself right under my neck where he used to lay his beautiful head. Gabby is usually one to put her head on your shoulder, but George loved being tucked under my chin. With that, the tears just rolled down my face.

I've had several moments like this throughout the last few days. My mom and I were talking about a picture of him and how in this pic he looks so different. You could see his personality in it. He was so happy and smiling. I remember the picture being from his very first smile. He would only smile for me and poor Hugh was kind of upset but took pictures. I can remember moments vividly like his first smile and of course that brought tears to my eyes. So often I am reminded of how much I miss him. I'm still at peace with his death but that doesn't take away the pain left here by his death. I know it may seem odd or you may not be able to understand that but I don't know any other way to explain it to anyone.

I have just been taken back by how much he has been on my mind lately. The whole holiday thing is probably the culprit along with his death date coming up. He will be gone for 2 years and just looking at that time lapse is painful. It is so hard to think we have had to live life that long without him. I know that number will only grow and saddens me because that number is already well past the age he got to live. For me that is such a hard thing to see...he should have been able to live to the age of two but didn't even get to see 1 year. I think that may be why Gabby's first birthday means so much to's like I finally get to celebrate that milestone. It has become a huge milestone for me and my family.

I do thank God for Gabrielle and all the joy she brings to our family. She isn't living life for George but it is like he shows through her and I know he is watching over her. My heart goes out to those who cannot have another child after loosing one if they want one. Today another angel mommy is going through a tubal reversal in hopes to have her own rainbow. These babies are so very special because they bring so much to a family. They are never had to replace their older sibling but because the family feels God's presence in their life to bring joy after all the pain. It is not easy to have a rainbow by any means no matter how hard it is to even get pregnant with them, it is no easy emotional road to raise them and yet as hard as it is, the joy they bring is a million times more than ever explainable. Please pray for this mom today and that God be with her as she goes through this.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Missing my Monkey!

Today I am really missing my boy. We went to church and for the first time in a while I went to the place where we buried some of his ashes. When we placed them there I thought it would be more spiritual for me than it has become. I think it is hard for me because there is nothing there acknowledging he is there and that really is hard for me and hurts. I look at the empty spaces on the plaque that lists others who have passed but none for my little boy. We've asked several times to have his name added even if we need to pay for it, but now, almost two years later, his name is still not there.

Going to that spot and not seeing his name adds a sadness to my heart so I often times don't visit his resting spot. I feel bad but I just can't handle the added pain and loss that I feel by this. It is like the mom's who wait patiently for their child's headstone. There is some odd peace brought just by having that acknowledgement that says your child is there. Even if everyone else forgets them, there is some acknowledgement that they did exist. With George, since his time here was so short, it sometimes feels like he wasn't here, and not seeing his name is like he didn't.

Anyway, I visited his resting spot. There was decorations to the right of where he was buried for a woman who I sang for her funeral. I took a flower from a pot of mums that were next to the spot he was placed. Tears welled in my eyes as I remember the day I laid him there. I will never forget being handed the small urn with his ashes and not wanting to place them there. It was the acknowledgement that it was for real and my son was really dead. I wanted him back and didn't want to place his little body parts into the cold ground and yet there I was,his mommy, having to place him there myself. No one should have to bury their child, it just isn't fair and there is nothing more painful and hard to do.

I miss his simile, his laugh, and just the way he laid on my chest. It hurts that it is all gone...he is gone and I will never have him back. Sometimes, I can't even remember those things and that hurts even is as if you are loosing them all over again. Gabrielle however, helps me to remember when she does those things. I couldn't love anyone more than I love that little girl. Gabby has a special place in my heart and there is so much more meaning in watching her grow up than I ever had with the other kids. I now have even a deeper appreciation for the crazy things the boys do like when Michael dose things like make it snow in his room or cracks eggs to find a baby chick, or tries to keep a worm as a pet.(yes he really did all these things).

When I am upset, I tend to cook. Today I cooked up a storm with chicken noodle soup, stuffed cabbage stew, pizza, and pumpkin muffins. While I did that I thought of my little monkey and also about an older woman at our church. Her husband died not that long ago and today they were dedicating the new keyboard in his memory. She held it together and I could see deep in her eyes how very hard it was for her to do. After service we went down and had our usual bagels and doughnuts. This woman's family was there and they were leaving. She came to get her coat, which was where we were sitting. I stood up and just hugged her and told her that I pray for her all the time and think of her too. While I was cooking my pain away, I thought about her and the fact that I want to take her some of the things I made. I can't imagine being all alone through such a difficult loss. I know how lost I feel and I am surrounded by people.

Grief is such an odd thing with no rhyme or reason. The person who came up with the steps of grief should be shot in my opinion. It sets people up to feel like they are failures if they don't get to the end of that list or in the same order. Your feelings are forever so there really is no end like they say there is. It sets you up to think that there is an end to all that you are feeling and that is so wrong. Gotta love when we try to make sense of something that isn't meant to be understood.

I miss my hurts...I cry...I want him isn't fair...I love him so much...I miss my Monkey!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Moving Foward

I have really been thinking a lot about the house and all that has happened to our family. It has been no easy road and no matter what, we have to keep moving forward even if we don't want to. I came to find that the reason I have had such a hard time is because I feel as if the house is still lingering over our head. Once the house is gone completely and is emptied, I think it will be a lot easier to move forward. It is kind of like our hearts are in two different places right now. Going there just brings so many emotions and is very hard to handle at times.

I don't know how to leave the life we knew behind. There is a certain attachment to the place especially since it was the only place George knew as home and he died there. I know he was taken to the hospital but they never did get a heartbeat or breathing from him so he really died at home. I still call the place home and am not yet completely settled here at my parents. I do however feel that once the house is gone that we will be able to move forward because we will have no choice but to do so. It is just so hard to leave it all behind and just walk away from our past. I know that the future is what really matters but the past is what has helped mold us into the individuals that we become. It is like leaving yourself behind in some capacity, and my heart could not be heavier at times. We are hoping to be moved out by Thanksgiving so we can move on with life and all of us can go forward.

That being said, I went to the doctors yesterday to find out a plan of action with him to help my physical issues. He is thankfully a doc willing to listen and work with me. He has ordered several tests and lab work and wants to do a baseline work up to see where I am with the disease right now. He also gave me a medication to help with the muscle spasms and nerve based issues I have been having. It seems to work so far. They have decreased but I can also still go up on dosing since it is one of those meds that it is trial and error with. . It doesn't help with any of the pain but it helps with the other stuff for now. There is definitely something wrong with my abdomen since the doc felt the same thing that I did and is probably a hernia or something so I am going to have a cat scan done. It is very painful at times and sometimes the pain meds don't work and I have to take a stronger one. Please just keep me in your prayers as I go through all this testing and try to find the right meds and things for me to be on.

Yesterday I went to look at a venue for Gabrielle's birthday part. It is really nice and right in the complex my mother in law lives. I'm very excited for her birthday party. It just is a huge milestone for her and us as a family. With George not getting to see his first birthday there is some sort of peace that we have never had, I am hoping we will gain that. It is going to be a blast and I just can't wait. We have so many fun things planned and really want to make this special for everyone.

The two of us also went to her doctors appt and then to lunch. I think I may have talked her into getting a newer car since she has no heat or air conditioning in hers. The poor woman is so afraid to get one because of having to have payments and that is her biggest worry. If I had the money I would get her one that was something she didn't need to worry about repairs for but that was reasonably priced. I told her that she can get a good new used car and that Hugh and I could take her around. It is so hard to watch her struggle and not be able to really help her where she needs to be helped. She is so emotional and I feel for her on so many levels. I wish she was better at telling others than Hugh and I the truth about how she feels. She feels so obligated to tell people what they want to hear and does not live for herself. Hugh and I are the only to people she is really herself with and although I am honored by that it causes so many issues that it drives me crazy at times.

She also told me how Hugh's siblings and her had talked about her final life plans. I found that she wants me to plan her service. When I got home and told Hugh, he was actually quite upset since he was not included in on the whole thing and feels like it is watching his father's plans happen all over again. My heart goes out to him and there is nothing I can do to make it any better. I did offer her the opportunity to be placed with George in his urn and she said she would love that as she teared up. With that she said she would like to put some of her ashes up near where she had grown up as a child and the rest put with George. She asked me to help her with her living will since I have done them before for Frank and others so I told her I would do it with her. I don't know why but I have some sinking feeling that when she dies it is just going to be a mess but I hope that I am wrong.

We will see where things go from here but I am now trying to focus on moving forward and helping our family through all that is about to happen to us all.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quite Hours of the Morning

Today the kids have off from school and Hugh is already off to work. Gabby and I are the only ones up in the house. The house is eerily quiet for this time of morning. It suddenly brought me back to the morning George died. It was that same silence as I got Richard off to school that morning. I was going to check on him but thought twice about it since I knew if I woke him up Hugh would have been mad since I had to go back to work. Mornings like these are the mornings that I just miss George terribly and get those random panic attacks still.

We are hard at work right now collecting items to make Christmas stockings for the homeless. I've been fortunate enough to have collected enough fabric to make the 100 stockings that I have. With the kids off, I want to let them help so I think we might start having them trace out the pieces since we will need about 200 pieces. They are excited to start this since they all love the holiday season. I'm still looking for items to fill the stockings with but a few people have been generous enough to give me their travel size items they collect from hotels. It is actually quite exciting to be working on this project.

Added into the project is prep for Gabrielle's 1st birthday. I am very excited about it and can't wait to celebrate it, I just hope others realize how important it is to us and show up. It is during the Christmas season when so many people are busy but I am really praying they can take a few hours to celebrate this momentous occasion with us. I sent out save the dates a few weeks back but I'm not sure if that helped any. It is so hard sometimes to realize that not everyone you care about can make something like this even if they know how much it means to you. We understand that others make plans but when it is family sometimes it is a hard pill to swallow and even though you try hard, you are still disappointed. In the end though, I try to remember that this is very special and we are grateful for those who can come to celebrate such a wonderful thing with our family.

The other big project we have going on here is moving all our things. Hugh and my dad are going to finish putting shingles on the shed so we can finish moving items. I want to have everything we are taking with us out of the old house by Thanksgiving. Its so hard to do it sometimes because it is very emotional. Going over there takes a lot out of you by the end of the day and its not because of moving things but rather the emotions involved. The other day the kids said that they changed their minds and wanted to move back in the house and it just broke my heart to hear this. Even being at my mom's house, although I grew up here, it just doesn't feel like my own home. I am thankful for the basement since it does give me a place to decorate with things from our family and make it a little like our own space. The other day I bought some new spatulas for the kitchen here and I felt compelled to ask my mom if it was ok that I threw the junky ones out. That's the stupid little stuff that kind of makes it hard or to feel like it isn't really our home.

My parents are wonderful with the kids, all things considering. I know they are done this age of child rearing so there are times it is hard for them. The kids even test my patience and I try to keep in mind that they are only kids but I always feel like I have to keep them out of the way or try to make sure they don't bother my parents. The kids have been really tough lately and have been making that extremely hard to do, and it is so exhausting on my part. I can feel the effects of my own disease as they get worse and I try to work through them but at the days end I just want to fall apart. Today I go to the doctor for myself to try and talk to him about getting some of these symptoms under control so that I don't feel so lousy...I don't have time for this as a mom of 5. The sever pain is taking it's toll and now is affecting my sleep by waking me up with shooting and throbbing pain, not to mention the muscle spasms all the time. I'm so tired during the day that I have to nap but feel so bad for doing it and leaving the kids with my mom.

My biggest concern is the heart palpitations that have become more frequent since 40% of mito patients have heart problems. I've had this my whole life but it is just becoming more frequent and can be scary when it happens. Often I don't let on that I am having these problems and try to work through them without giving much indication that they are a factor. I hate when I loose control of my muscles and I just start to get the shakes and spasms for an extended period of time because those are the hardest to cover up. I want to be my "normal" self but it is becoming harder and harder as time goes on to do that and if I'm being honest, it scares me not only for myself but also for my family. I know how much everyone depends on me but it is just getting harder and harder to live up to everyone's expectations of me. It is already bad enough that people talk about me and judge me, I'm really trying to not add this to the mix to give them more ammunition. It emotionally hurts and I already have enough of that no matter how much I "Know better" it doesn't change how it can hurt when someone thinks of you in a negative way by no fault of your own.

It is also a little more difficult because Hugh's job is a physical job and it is taking its toll on him. He is into his busy season and they are having to unload trucks almost every day. By the time he gets home, he is exhausted and doesn't have much left in himself to give to the kids and I. He often will get short with the kids and I without realizing it and with all the other added stressors of the house and things like that, I am sure he is just overwhelmed. His mom also calls him to come take her trash out and do things around her apartment while he is trying to find a way to juggle all the things we need to finish here and the kids with the crazy behavior lately. Please keep us in your prayers as we all work through these tough times and that it is only temporary. Also pray that these other ministries we feel called to touch the lives of others in need and who are also feeling much like we are by letting them know someone does care and we recognize that there are others in worse positions than we are. Please also pray for the kids and their behavior, I don't know if it is the house/emotional issues or if it is part of their disease. Thank you in advance for your prayers they really do mean a lot!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

George's Guardian's of Grace Stocking Project

We are now in full force collecting items to create 100 stockings to send to Camden for the homeless. I had posted a need for items on Freecycle and got a pretty good response. The gentleman from our church who handles this ministry said he thought it was a good idea and gave me a general count of 80-100 so I want to shoot for 100 because I don't want to leave anyone without a stocking.

If you are interested in helping with this project and have some items laying around, I'd gladly come get them or put them to good use if you would like to mail them to us. Below is the items I happen to need.


Hotel/travel size hygiene products.
Fabric to make stockings
Candy Canes
Anything else you think we could use to fill them (dollar vouchers for McDonalds/fastfood place)

If you happen to have someone in heaven that you would like to remember or someone fighting some disease, and you feel compelled to help with this project we can add their name to the tags I plan to put on the stockings. These people will not get anything for the holidays and the more we get to fill these stockings the better. Please prayerfully consider supporting our efforts. I know George is smiling down on us as we do this project in his memory for the holiday season, this is really what it is all about. You don't have to have money to change the world or make an impact in the lives of others!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kindness of Strangers

Yesterday and the days leading up to it, I was having a rough time. After a diagnosis of a life threatening disease and ridicule from a family member who just doesn't understand any of it, I had such a heavy heart. The holidays are coming and of course that brings a whole other side to all of this with us having to live with George in heaven and still be financially struggling. Yes we get help for the holidays but there is nothing like being able to shop for your own children and see their faces when they open something you got them and they just love it.

I've been realistic about it all and have been looking for bargains for the kids on Amazon and Ebay. Even if the toys are used they are still new to them. Every paycheck Hugh gets, I have been taking a small portion to get a few things for the kids. This paycheck was used for the younger boys. Included in that, I feel George is one of them. It is so hard to try and find ways to still include him in our holidays but I am determined to make this a good holiday season no matter how hard that may be. I've been looking for some small items for George to put on his mantle throughout the year. Most family does not even buy anything for him since he died so I often feel it is my job as his mommy to do this for him. His big brother's also don't understand why he doesn't get gifts even though he is in heaven.

Last year we had people send ornaments and put them under his tree. A few people did this for us and we will be sure to put them on his tree again this year. One thing that he never had was a stocking. I figured he had more time with us so I never got him one. My depression last year and Gabrielle's birth just made it completely slip my mind. This year I was determined to get him a stocking. I went on ebay and started to look and see what I could get a deal on. Much to my surprise there was one beautiful Curious George stocking for sale. There were quite a few bids on it but I really wanted it for him so I placed my bid and watched for the next 45 mins until the sale ended to be able to get this stocking for him.

I won the bid and paid for it immediately. The person selling it happened to email me telling me that he was shipping it as soon as possible. I thanked him from the bottom of my heart and said how excited I was to get it because it was actually very special. It was a quick email that I sent him just letting him know how much it meant to us and that it was for a special little boy. I woke up this morning to go in my email to find that the money for the stocking had been refunded. My heart sank as I thought something happened and I could not get it for my little monkey. After taking a deep breath I opened the email to find that the gentleman was going to give it to us at no cost!

I sat there staring at the email in tears, he had taken the time to go to George's page and watched the video. At first I didn't know how he knew about the web page but then I remembered I have an automatic signature set on my email that has the web page listed. This man felt compelled to give this to us as a gift and he truly has no idea how big a gift it was...something so simple as a Christmas stocking. I thought about the past week and all the struggles I had gone through and somehow they were all wiped away with one simple gesture from a stranger. This man changed my whole week and didn't even know it.

He also taught me that it isn't always how many gifts your kids have. With us loosing the house and all that has transpired to this point in life we have all had our struggle with the emotions that come with it. Sometimes we wallowed in our own pity rather than being grateful for what we do have. I did this myself more recently and kept praying to get out of this funk. I finally found peace in George's death and then today learned a life lesson in a simple gift of a Christmas stocking! It made me realize that as long as a gift is given from the heart, that is all that matters. It isn't about the money spent or amount given but rather the thought and time that went into giving it. I think I have always known this and it is probably the reason I hate gift cards. We, as a society have gotten to wrapped up in feeling obligated to get a gift for someone and have completely gone away from the purpose of it all. A gift is to be given with thought and love behind it, not just a piece of plastic picked up to just fulfill a gift for a name on a list.

This simple gesture has actually made me think of something that I want to do. I know we are collecting coats for the homeless along with other items to keep them warm. These people are grateful for such a basic staple that many people take for granted, they don't even think further than that to ask for something for themselves. I think I am going to see if I can gather some material and make stockings to send down with the clothes we by and fill each one with a few things. I'm going to try and get the things through free cycle or from other friends/family that would be interested in helping. If you think this is something you might be interested in helping with, please let me know...I think this may be exactly what we needed to get us out of our funk and yet still honor our little boy's memory in such a way that our lives were touched! Be a kind stranger to someone else today, you never really know what that could mean to another person!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Newly Diagnosed

As I posted, I am now officially diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disease just like Joshua and Michael. Hugh is borderline for complex IV but we have surely given the researcher a lot to think of and do with our family. He has asked me to keep in touch and work with him in a few more weeks by coming in to be swabbed again so he can continue to follow me regularly since I was so deficient and have a very high enzyme that is produced when your body creates excessive amounts of Mitochondria. I am deficient in the Complex I chain of the energy process. Hugh is slightly deficient in Complex IV.

Joshua has gotten better compared to where he was during the first test and although he is close to bottom of the range, he now comes in within the normal range. Michael is still the same and is deficient in complex I and IV. Richard and Gabrielle are both fine, showing no signs of deficiency and for that I am so grateful. When talking to the doc about what had transpired with George, he does believe that he more than likely had the disorder too but we will never know for sure even though in my heart I know he was a sick little boy. he had so many symptoms but he looked so "normal" that doctors just never took me serious and by the time they started to, it was too late, he was dead.

Being diagnosed kind of hit me harder than I thought it was going to. It was just like learning of Joshua having this for the first time and getting the black and white paper saying so even though I knew in my heart he had it before the report came in. Having the diagnosis explains quite a bit for me and all the symptoms that I had as a child growing up. Unfortunately, when I was growing up they didn't even know what it was so I never would have even been diagnosed properly. I was a "colic" baby that just cried all the time, weight was a huge struggle for me no matter how much or little I ate, fatigue was so excessive for me especially in high school and college, and there were many other symptoms. Doctors wrote all of my symptoms with some other reason even though there was nothing that really pointed to those.

Life for me has never been easy on any front. I watched as others who were self centered and fortunate to not have "life happen" to them, not have to struggle and yet find it ok to judge me thinking I caused my own issues. These sort of judgements are so hard to handle on top of the obstacles that have come my way. The other day one of my uncles who I thought understood or cared showed his true thoughts about me and I was so hurt. He said how my sisters were better than I was and would survive if my mother died and I wouldn't. Well, first of all, none of my sisters have had to deal with the obstacles I have and these obstacles have proven time and again that I can survive. I was so hurt and could not keep back the tears that filled my heart with sadness from hearing this judgement come from his mouth. Today it still bothers me. My mom has told me to ignore it but it is a lot easier said than done.

I don't understand why people find it so easy to judge others and use words to hurt people rather than raise them up. They don't understand that if you point a finger you have three pointing back at you. Let your husband be arrested by the FBI(without your knowledge), your children be living with a life threatening illness with doctors who know nothing about it, you loose your job by no fault of your own in an economy that is in the toilet, and watch your child die before your eyes and see how well you fare. Life has not been kind to us and yet we are still living and caring for our children in the capacity we do. We still give when we can and do fundraisers and things to help others in need and in worse shape than we are. If I was such a bad person and a leach I wouldn't do anything to give back and would wallow in my own sorrow but instead each day I push forward and work hard to still make a positive difference in this world. Even though I know deep in my heart I am a good person but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt when someone says something so hurtful.

The closer we come to loosing the house, it becomes more emotional and difficult for me. This hurts and adds pain to an already aching and fractured heart. Every time I seem to find that we are moving forward something happens and we are back to square one. We watch others around us flourish and receive things even if they are not good people and that is so hard to sit back and watch. Why is it that for some people life is just so difficult? I love it when people say that God doesn't give you more than you can handle but I am just sick of it...give it to someone else. We are so overwhelmed and have watched our lives fall apart before our eyes and try to get back on our feet, only to be knocked down again by another obstacle or a person who doesn't even understand all we have been through. It hurts no matter what anyone says and I think often times they say it doesn't matter because they know it hurts but don't want you to be upset.

Often times like these, I miss my grandmother. The two of us had such a special relationship and she never told me to just deal with it or ignore it. She would listen and empathize with me and in the end would just say she would pray for me. If anyone knew about hard times, I know it was my grandmother. She survived WWII, was an alcoholic, had 10 kids, and her own set of medical issues. My grandparents lost their house and in general did not have an easy life. She also would talk to my mom and often times get her to see things in a different manner or just be the listening ear for my mom without judging me if we had an issue between the two of us. Now if my mom says something to someone else it has to be a sibling and not very many of them even like me for that matter.

I was the one who was close to my mom and they all treated me as the outcast from such a young age thinking I mooched off my mom and not every really knowing the truth about anything. It always hurt and I came to hate family functions and things like that because I always felt as if they were talking about me or judging me and I could just feel what they thought of me in their body language and it has always hurt. When George died I felt like the only reason that most of them were there was for my mom and so they didn't feel guilty. I could be wrong but I don't think I am. If I were to die it wouldn't matter to many of them and they would probably feel that at least I was no longer a burden to my parents. My immediate family would be impacted but other than that a good chunk of the rest of them could care less.

With this new diagnosis, I have a lot of emotions running around in my body and really need to get a handle on it all. I know how bad I feel inside even though I often times don't show it on the outside to anyone. They really have no clue and never have. Somehow if you tell people you aren't feeling well, or at least in my family, they have to one up you so you learn real quick to just suck it up and not bother saying anything. They have all done it and with a hand tied behind their back or have to make some other smart ass comment that I just don't have patience for a good chunk of the time. I've perfected putting on that smiling face and dying inside even before George died so it is engrained in who I am now. There are a lot of things I worry about for myself medically and emotionally, especially with all I know about the disease. I ask that you keep me in your prayers right now as I wrap my head around all that is going on and this new diagnosis, it helps to know I am not the only one praying...thank you all in advance!

"Life can not be measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Mito Diagnosis...good and bad

Today the researcher handling Mito diagnosis called with the results from our whole family mouth swabs...this is what came of it and where we all stand.

Hugh- Slight complex IV deficiency

Me-Severe Complex I deficiency along with elevated enzyme that creates Mito production...the most affected in the family.

Richard-not affected

Joshua-no longer showing deficiency and following in the "low" of "normal" range...he was on the mito cocktail when tested.

Michael-same as last time, still deficient in Complex I and IV

Gabrielle- Not affected

I'm still trying to wrap my head around all of this, I will post more later once I have had time to figure out where we are going with all of this info. It is nice to know I am not crazy but not so fun to know you have a disease that you can't get treated locally for and insurance doesn't cover the specialists in the field. I'm praying to be able to wrap my head around this and find out where I am suppose to be with all of this. I was not surprised to find out I had it but was quite shocked to hear I was the worst where defects are concerned. It really does explain a good chunk of my life and all the problems I have had along with the exhaustion on a regular basis. Please keep me in your prayers as I learn to accept this new diagnosis.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Anniversary

Today, 7 years ago, Hugh and I got married. I thank God for him every single day of my life because I don't know where I would be without him. Every day we defy all odds and statistics that say we should be divorced. Instead, we are going stronger than ever even though we had our rough moments from time to time. We have the sort of love that many dream of and I did as a child. I never anticipated all that I have been through to happen to me but knowing I have someone to walk this path with in life is more comforting than anything and makes it all a little easier. We have been through more than most people have been through in 7 years than most go through in a lifetime! God has truly blessed us time and time again and cared for us and given us all that we "need", even in the bad times. I pray for many more years together with many more blessings!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Savior, Please - Josh Wilson

Let me love you by Josh Wilson

Somethings Gotta Change - Josh Wilson

Fall Apart (Slideshow with Lyrics)

The Rain

Today it is heart just feels the same way it looks outside. I miss my son so much and my heart just hurts. There is nothing I would not give to hold him again and kiss him. My tears stain my cheeks as they fall and disappear to the eyes of others but in my heart I can still feel the tears and rain coming down. Little monkey, mommy loves you and misses you so much!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Impending Holidays

For weeks now I have felt the holidays creeping up on us. We got a letter from our church asking what our needs are and if we are still in need of help for the holidays. The past few years, if it was not for them, I don't really know what we would have done on so many levels. It is always hard emotionally because I cannot shop for my own children. We appreciate everything that people give to us but somehow it kind of takes from the holiday experience for Hugh and I when we cannot shop for our own children.

Each year I take the letter the church sends us and thoughtfully consider what I am going to write on that page. This seems so easy but it isn't. I have to think about what they will need for the rest of the year and narrow it down to one gift the kids want. They have a place listed for "needs" and one for "want" Needs are always easy because there are always things like socks, underwear, shoes, and other staples that they always need since they are always growing like weeds. In the want section, I am always careful to put something that is monetarily feasible for someone to actually get. This year the kids want a DSI but that is quite expensive and I have to find the money for two, not just one. Hugh and I could use a real gold necklace for our charms that hold George's ashes since this year both of our's bit the dust and now neither of us can wear it like we had planned. These are not things that I have ever put on this list even if they really wanted something. My heart goes out to all the parents that have been in our situation and especially those who have NO help at all and their children get nothing.

All of that being said, the very thought of all that added to the loss of George just makes the holidays now dreaded events for us. For the past few years I just have not had the holiday spirit no matter how hard I tried to just be thankful for our blessings and not the things we don't have. Last year was the single wost holiday season of my life, and that is no exaggeration! I really have been feeling as if this year was going to be much of the same, but today for the first time I had a glimmer of hope for it to be something I may be able to enjoy rather than dread. It sounds like such a simple task but it really isn't. I've gotten so good at putting that fake smile on that often times I forget how not to do that!

Today my mom and I went to Walmart with Gabby. I had to grab melatonin and allergy meds for the boys and my mom had a few things she needed. While there, since we didn't have the boys with us, we went down the toy isles. Little did I realize, this was Gabrielle's first trip down the toy isle. Usually I avoid the toy isle like the plague because we don't usually have money to get them anything. Gabby was just amazed with all the toys! Her little eyes just stared at everything and the look on her face was just priceless. If she saw something that she liked, she would say oooh. I've never heard her do it and the face that went with it was just so adorable. I let her play with a few toys while we were looking around to see what she may like and she was just so overwhelmed and in awe that I didn't even want to leave the isle. The trip down the Christmas isle brought about the same reaction and I took a little video of her and sent it to Hugh.

I stood there looking at her and seeing how excited she was with the simplest things. Joshua and Michael are in LOVE with the holidays and decorating, and I am sure that Gabby will now follow in their footsteps. As I saw her enjoying this simple trip to the store, I was forced to think about the upcoming season and how much it will mean to her. She just deserves the world and to be a kid and as her mom I have to give that to her and get past my own feelings. For the first time in a very long time, I found an excitement inside that I have not had in, I don't even know how long. Her little face just reminded me how to look deeper and enjoy life through the pain of life. Maybe this whole season will be better than I thought it really would be. I need to find that joy and excitement and really look inside to work on myself so that I can be there for the kids and enjoy their lives while they are young. It isn't that I haven't appreciated any of it but somehow I have found a deeper understanding of all of this.

Finding this inner peace with George's death doesn't mean that I don't miss him. I will still cry for myself because I miss him but the internal turmoil has subsided. All of the what if's and could have beens are still there but I can now accept it for what it is...God's will. God wants me to also find joy and happiness and I feel these moments are gifts from him reminding me of what he really wants for me. He wants me to rely on him and to still find happiness/good among the pain/bad. So often I tell my children this and forget that I too need to remember these things. No matter what we can or cannot provide for the kids, it has nothing to do with the feelings inside. The boys will never remember the toys specifically but they will remember the feelings invoked by the holiday season. When they look back on their lives, I want them to remember the happiness and not the sadness that we carried in our hearts. If I spend the impending holidays the way I did last year, they won't have that and I will be denying them the things they deserve. Please keep me in your prayers as we move through this tough time of year and allow us to find the holiday spirit no matter our circumstances.

Monday, October 24, 2011

An Amazing Feeling

I cannot tell you what an amazing feeling I am carrying in my heart right now. Yesterday we picked Richard up from Comfort Zone Camp. We of course stayed for the parents meeting and memorial service before leaving to head home back to our own reality. Nothing is more moving than attending one of these closing ceremonies with these children. All of them have had to face the cruel reality of life at such a young age and so often feel lost in their day to day lives. Camp provides them with such a safe haven and they finally find others who are right there with them in life and the support and love they find in a weekend is just amazing!

From the moment you walk into the room, you can see there is such a transformation. You also can feel the energy from all the parents who love their children but are at a loss to help them as they hold onto home that camp has helped them in a way they cannot. So often as a parent in grief, you find it hard to help your child and there are many reasons to that but this camp does what is out of your hand and changes your child in such a short time. Amazing is not even good enough of a word to explain this. You can see the first time parents as they wait to anxiously see how their child is because you know they worried about them all weekend. The repeat parents are also obvious because they are calm and so excited for these new parents because they already know what these new parents don't. As a repeat parent, you also cannot wait to see your child and see how they blossomed and took leaps and bounds in their grief work.

The healing circle leaders come in and you can see as each parent listens intently. First they want to find out all about their child's experience but then they want to take away tips to help them at home for the next year. The room is full of hungry parents wanting to learn how to help their children through this horrible time they have no control over. Once they go over their general group, the healing circle leaders meet with each parent separately to address their individual child so the parent can hone in on what that child's particular needs may be or just hear how they blossomed over the weekend. The kids come in with their big buddies and the room is transformed into a different place with such positive energy filling the room and the worry that any parent is gone as they see their child for the first time and can see a change in them immediately.

The kids get their chance to remember their loved ones. There is more support and love in that room than you even think is possible in life. Tears and laughter fill the air as each child shares their loved one and their memories with the whole room of grieving individuals. The boundaries between children/parents, age, and the different walks of life are completely gone and everyone is just this one group full of love and support. The kids who may be the outcasts in their home community now thrive and get to be the real people they are inside at camp and this is probably the only time in their lives that they get to do that. These childhood outcasts in life are now transformed into completely different people and as a parent who has one of those children, you cannot even begin to thank the staff for the immense gift they just gave to your child.

The whole room gets involved. We were all singing songs and clapping and supporting these children who yearned for this sort of love since the loss of their loved ones. Sweet Caroline, The Climb, and Lean on me were just a few songs that filled the room with such joy and sorrow but it was ok and you were safe to cry or laugh without judgement. Kids held one another and cried or supported another friend while they shared with everyone. It was beyond amazing and I wish everyone could experience this sort of cannot even explain it.

Richard actually got his big buddy from last time back and the two of them have such an incredible bond! He also met another child there who not only had a loss but also struggles every day with their own medical diagnosis of Tourretts. This young girl, was so lost and you could see it in her eyes but when the two of them were together there was this bond and emotion for one another that I have never seen before. For the first time in a long time, my son was himself and he just thrived as he wound up being the big man on campus. It was such an amazing gift that camp gave us as his parents...we had our son back for the first time in a long time.

There was a moving moment after Richard had the Curious George song played while his group left the stage that he had with Hugh. Tears streamed down Hugh s face and Richard just hugged him like never before and held onto him and supported his dad in a way never done before. Although they may not be biologically connected, they have such a special bond even though they will butt heads from time to time. I just sat there thanking God for that moment and the gift of that bond for the two of them because I know even though Richard's bio dad is not here all the time that he has a man who is here and who loves him just as if he was his biologically.

Richard was so exhausted after his weekend. I cannot even begin to tell you how much grief work takes out of you. You cannot physically see it so it is very hard to explain to others. There is a problem I am working on with his school yet again for their lack of understanding dealing with his absences. They want to dock his grades because he missed more than 5 days of school. I think this is absurd and now am back to fighting with these people. School triggers panic attacks in him and if he is having a bad day there is no way I am sending him. He was worried about this but needed today off so I told him I don't care what they say at this point but he was not feeling well(he lost his voice) and was exhausted from the weekend so I was not about to force him to go. I'll deal with the school yet again because if we knew he was going to miss, I would let the teachers know and he would get his homework and turn it in the day he returned to school. He is not missing work and is doing well in school so I am pretty irate about all of this. Needless to say, he is still sound asleep and it is 9:30am.

After talking to many parents I really want to see if we can fundraise the money to have a parents camp. They have done this before but just have not had the funding to do so. There will be a bit involved but I really want to make this happen because I believe that it is super important so that as a family unit we can work on things and a parents positive mental health will ultimately lead to the whole family having a better grasp of everything. Often times, I also find that this is such an important step for many fathers who go to just see their children. My husband is one of those because he shoves his feelings down to be the one there for us all. So often they forget George was his son too and that he really doesn't have much in the way of support. My heart breaks for him just thinking about how lonely he feels in this whole thing. I often feel that way but Hugh has it even worse and all I can do is pray that God be enough for him to rely on to get from day to day. This is not easy for anyone but especially for men because our society expects them to handle it "like a man" and be strong and not bothered by it.

All of that being said, if you ever know anyone who has a major loss and there are children, please don't hesitate to let them know about Comfort Zone Camp. If they are not close to a camp, the staff will work on getting them to a camp and if they don't have the money to send them, they will come up with it. They want all children and families to benefit from this because grief is not discriminating. Please keep all these children and families in your prayers because they are now headed back to their unforgiving worlds which most people in their lives do not understand them. It is such a hard thing to do and I feel for these kids who, have for the first time in a long time, laughed and had a smiles on their faces!

Video Tributes/Celebration of Life Footage

Here is a link to a video tribute that was made by Richard's dad in memory of George. Get out your tissues!!/video/video.php?v=1360981185308&ref=mf

We Finally have footage from the service up and running:!/video/video.php?v=1368692138077&ref=mf!/video/video.php?v=1368733099101!/video/video.php?v=1368770540037

It is in 4 sections running about 17 mins each. If you were unable to attend, you can now see what you missed. We were so blessed to have everyone there with us in person and in spirit!

Me With My Prince Charming In Front of the Castle

Me With My Prince Charming In Front of the Castle