Wednesday, November 26, 2008

the business of grief

I'm sad. It has been a very hard week. It continues to get harder as we go. Tonight is pie night. All 6 pies will baked into their yummy glory and delivered tomorrow morning. Kim, you are the lucky recipient of our 6th pie. After we make them, adjust the receipe to reflect what we really put in it, I will post it so you all can enjoy the yummy goodness of the pecan pie we enjoy each holiday.

I had a revelation yesterday. I was on the floor playing with Alie. She is so good at playing and making me smile. I just have to look at her and she grins from ear to ear. This, in turn, puts a big smile on my face. Which, then, puts a big smile on her face. Do you see the pattern? It is a vicious, fabulous cycle. But, as I was smiling to my daughter, I realized just how heavy my heart is right now. I am missing Natalie so desperately right now. Emily is too. And so are Bryan and Corey. But Alie does not know yet what grief is. She just smiled right on through. One day, I will have to introduce her to grief. It will be different for her. But she will be exposed to it much sooner than she would have otherwise. I am unsure about this. How do I introduce sadness to my little one? I guess it will just happen during the conversations about her sister. I don't like this though. She should not have to be exposed to it so soon. I love the fact that Natalie never really knew hate, or sadness, or grief. But Alie will. This is hard for mommy to accept. And I am not doing it too well right now.
I wanted to post a few pictures of my girls. Yesterday was Emily's preschool Thanksgiving Feast. She was a pilgrim girl. And she made a beautiful pilgrim girl. But, of course, after everyone was dressed, she wanted to be a Native American. Most of the other children were Native Americans. The good thing about the feast was that they served Chicken Nuggets, Em's favorite! She says she will try turkey tomorrow....we will see.

Of course, as Alie and I were playing on the floor yesterday, I couldn't help but grab the camera and snap a few shots of the smiling baby. She is quite a ham already, both with the camera and the fact that her thighs are so chunky and adorable. There are so many yummy rolls that I love to squeeze. And her can see for yourself!

Monday, November 24, 2008


I don't think I will ever stop counting. I have counted the number of day Natalie was with us, the number of days in the hospital, the number of days until we had her funeral, and I even know the number of days that she has been gone. Today is a number too. Today is the 24th...13 months since I saw my Natalie's smile. Thirteen months since I held her. It crept up on me. Yesterday I was in a bad mood. I could not pinpoint why. I honestly thought it was because I have not been faithful to my devotional time in the morning. Or maybe it was hormonal. Or maybe I was stressed that today is going to be so busy. Maybe, it was just because the baby has been fussy and I am not sure why. Now I know. It is all of these things, along with the counting.

There are lots of days when I don't want to count. I simply cannot help it though. As much as I try not to, it always creeps into my thoughts. I suppose it always will. But does it have to hurt so much? Do I have to cry when I think of her 5 1/2 days in the hospital? Sure, it is now part of me.

Bryan and I were counting the number of pies that we have to make this year. Every year, Bryan makes a yummy Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you are one of the lucky people who has tasted this tiny piece of heaven, you understand. We have one, we make an extra for home because it is just that good. We have to make one for a few special friends, and of course there will be a pie that makes its way to the PICU. Have I ever mentioned that I love to feed them? Don't really know why...maybe because food can make anyone happy. Last year, we made 5 of them. This year the number is the same. But this number then reminds me that last year we had Turkey with my sister and her family. And Nat was not with us. It reminds me that we will be taking a pie to the hospital. We only know the staff there because we spent 5 days with them while Nat fought. Somehow, numbers have become something I don't always want to remember.

Anyhow....we have time this year to make one more. If you are in our area and you want one of these yummy pies this year, leave a comment. Give me a really good reason why you should get this tasty treat. Bryan and I will pick the most deserving comment and bring it to you either Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

til later....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I had a post all written. I lost it. And it was a good one! I am crying over that right now. But, as I was frantically searching for it, I came across this post from the caringbridge site that I wrote 1 year ago. It made me smile to read it. These are things that I remember but are not always in the forefront and I wish they were. Life is busy...and I need to slow down. Here is the post from last year, so you can remember too! If you want to send me your memories, I would love to remember with you. I am going to spend my day today remembering. Maybe I will include time for that during my devotional time in the morning...

What is your favorite memory of Natalie? Is there only one, or are there more? I have hundreds of thousands. Every moment of everyday of the 14 months and 12 days that I was able to hold and kiss and love my baby. But there are so many that stand out to me...thank you to my friends today at workshop who remembered with me. Those 7 women shared my child, my love with me. They cried with me and made me remember how much I do love her. Thank you! You have done more than you know for me. I needed today to be a good day and you gave that to me. I am honored to call each of you my friends. Share these memories with me....
Do you remember how Nat would smile...all 6 teeth gleaming! She had the most fabulous smile. Do you remember how she would talk? She would make this grunting noise…ooohhhh! I have a picture of it. I love that picture. Do you remember how she would run to the door the minute someone would walk in? Was it you? Can you see her, arms back as if to help propel her forward? I can see it. I miss it.
Do you remember asking her for kisses? Do you remember how she would walk up to you (with a big old smile!), turn her face so her check was towards you, and move so you could kiss it? I loved that…I asked her to play that game every single day, as often as I thought of it. I miss it.
I would love to know what your favorite memory of Natalie is….no matter how big or small. Each memory is so very important. You can put them in the guestbook so everyone can share these memories. You can email them to me if you prefer. Help me remember my baby…help us remember our family of 4. Natalie lives with us in our memories, in our dreams. I have big dreams….please make them bigger, for all of us.
Good night all…
Hillary, Bryan, Emily and especially our angel baby Nat Nat

til later...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Alie loves her ladybug mobile!

Alie does not love her carseat!

Emily did not want to eat dinner. We were making her (oh, the horror!) eat what we were eating. But, the thought of the cupcake she would get if she ate one piece of chicken won over the thought of eating Mommy and Daddy's yucky food that she "can't like".

til later....

Friday, November 7, 2008

New Normal

I read this somewhere....seems appropriate for my mood today and the last few days...

Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when you realize someone important is missing from all the important events in your family's life.

Normal is feeling like you can't sit another minute without getting up and screaming, because you just don't like to sit through anything.

Normal is not sleeping very well because a thousand what if's & why didn't I's go through your head constantly.

Normal is reliving that day continuously through your eyes and mind, holding your head to make it go away.

Normal is staring at every baby who looks like he is my baby's age. And then thinking of the age they would be now and not being able to imagine it. Then wondering why it is even important to imagine it, because it will never happen.

Normal is every happy event in my life always being backed up with sadness lurking close behind, because of the hole in my heart.

Normal is telling the story of your child's death as if it were an everyday, commonplace activity, and then seeing the horror in someone's eyes at how awful it sounds. And yet realizing it has become a part of my "normal".

Normal is having some people afraid to mention my baby.

Normal is making sure that others remember them.

Normal is that everyone else goes on with their lives, but we continue to grieve our loss forever.

Normal is weeks, months, and years after the initial shock, the grieving gets worse sometimes, not better.

Normal is not listening to people compare anything in their life to this loss, unless they too have lost a child. NOTHING. Even if your child is in the remotest part of the earth away from you - it doesn't compare. Losing a parent is horrible, but having to bury your own child is unnatural.

Normal is realizing I do cry everyday.

Normal is a new friendship with another grieving mother, talking and crying together over our children and our new lives.

Normal is not listening to people make excuses for God. "God may have done this because..." I love God, I know that my baby is in heaven, but hearing people trying to think up excuses as to why healthy babies were taken from this earth is not appreciated and makes absolutely no sense to this grieving mother.

Normal is being too tired to care if you paid the bills, cleaned the house, did laundry or if there is any food.

Normal is wondering this time whether you are going to say you have a child, because you will never see this person again and it is not worth explaining that my baby is in heaven. And yet when you don't say you have her to avoid that problem, you feel horrible as if you have betrayed your baby.

Normal is knowing I will never get over this loss, in a day or a million years.And last of all,

Normal is hiding all the things that have become "normal" for you to feel, so that everyone around you will think that you are "normal".

Monday, November 3, 2008



Today is so bittersweet. This morning I left my sister’s home to come back to Virginia. Anna Kathryn was sound asleep in one of the cutest nurseries I have ever seen. I blew kisses through the door and told Kimmie to give her hugs and kisses from us. Today, my sister’s daughter turned one! I am so happy to say it, much less celebrate it with them last weekend. Anna Kathryn ‘s birthday party brought tears to my eyes. It was a sweet reminder of what is to come as we all grow with her. And it was a bitter reminder of what we will not have with Natalie. Today is one year since we gathered with our friends and family to celebrate Natalie’s life in her funeral service. Honestly, no parent should ever have to witness that. It is unnatural. But we now know that Natalie was not only looking over us that day. She was looking out for Anna Kathryn as well. Each year, I will remember both AK and Nat together on this day. It is a special day for each girl. Their stories intertwine here, with an end and a beginning. In fact, AK was born just as Nat’s service was ending.

He gives and He takes away.

It has been one year…today is the last day I get to say that. I remember meeting someone who lost their son three years before I met her. I remember thinking, “Three years is a long time.” Now, I don’t agree. It is so short. One year has flown past, yet felt like an eternity. One year. We had just barely spent on year with her.

I want to say so much more…but my words are jumbled. I have been in front of this computer trying to make sense of them. But I cannot get my thoughts into clear sentences.

I am going to bed. I am going to remember. I am going to relive those amazing moments that Natalie gave me. I am going to try to not be upset that the first are over. I am going to do my best to honor my girls. I am going to start the second year without Natalie. And I am going to celebrate with my sister that her daughter is one. I will remember what He took from me while rejoicing over what He has given us as well. I think this day will always be bittersweet. But with its bittersweetness come the memories and stories of two sweet girls.

One He gave us as He took the other one away.

Good night all,
Hillary, Bryan, Emily, especially our angel baby Natalie and Allison

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween fun

Last Wednesday, at school, Emily had her harvest parade. She had a great time. The kids all had fun. It was very hard to get the whole class into one picture but I got it!! The best part was that I spent all morning at Em's school and Alie slept right through it.

Getting ready for her halloween party at school

All of the cutest kiddos that I have ever seen...well really there were more super cute ones too. You can see Emily at the end (she was the caboose that week!) with her teacher Ms. Doris.

Friday morning we headed out for our trip to Monroe to my sister's house. I did not really think that we would make it. Everything was going wrong and we were not getting out the door when I wanted to. I was so frustrated. What's a girl to do? Head to Starbucks, get some yummy coffee, go back home, wait until the baby is ready for her nap, put kids in the car, head out on the road 3 hours late! But we got here safe and sound. Then we headed to Allison's house for dress up with the girls. I had not planned on taking Emily trick-or-treating. She has never been. But all of the sudden there was a wagon with another princess, Miss Maggie, in it and she was gone!

Of course, there were a few other cuties that I cannot forget. Anna Kathryn makes the cutest Sunflower! I was originally going to get this costume for Alie, but when I found out that Kimmie had already bought it I changed my plan. I then found a CUTE dragonfly costume. It is adorable. But...Alie is not always the happiest of babies at the end of the day. And Friday was not different. She was tired and irritable. (I was too!) The result was a mad dragonfly, cute but mad!

Emily went to the first house and was stunned when the woman gave her some candy. She gave a look like, "I don't know why you are giving this to me but I will take it!" After that, she was hooked.

And the cutest sunflower EVER with her mom!

We head home tomorrow. Please pray for safe travels for Emily, Alie and I as we make our way home. This has been a short trip, but such a good one. It was tons of fun to share these milestones, including AK's birthday party yesterday, with my sister and her family. I love that my sister is close enough for a weekend visit. And I love that we are close enough to share that visit. I have spent many moments crying silently for all that is missing from this trip. Natalie is visibly absent. But I have spent many more moments smiling and enjoying lots of firsts with Anna Kathryn, Alie and Emily. I am grateful for the firsts...they bring joy to my heart again.


Hillary, Bryan, Emily, especially our angel Natalie and Allison

Saturday, November 1, 2008

it is time....

...for the disclosure of the order of the pictures.

Many of you were right...some were close. I am impressed by how you all can tell them apart. I sometimes have to do a double take to tell. But here is it...

This is our sweet Emily, the oldest. She is the baby we learned all we know about raising children. Sometimes I wonder how she will really turn out in spite of all of our mistakes.

Next, Natalie made her appearance. She is our baby that we worried came too soon. At 10lb 11ozs, I could not have carried her any longer. It was really too bad that I did not discover the book "The Happiest Baby on the Block" until she was 4 months old. I could have used that one! But seriously, she was my cuddliest baby. She was always wanting to cuddle, nurse, co-sleep...really be close in any way she could. I miss her cuddles. I miss all of her. (the red hair gives this one away too!)

And finally our newest member of the family, Allison. At two months old, she is our easiest baby yet. There is only fussiness when she is dirty, hungry or sleepy. Oh, and I learned yesterday that she is not a fan of being awake in the car. The last 30 minutes on I-85 were rough! Alie is also our smallest baby and still proves to be that way. She has not even hit 12lbs yet. I am amazed. She likes to cuddle too. We will see if that lasts.

So...who got it first? The order of the pictures on the original post was 1. Nat 2. Alie 3. Em.

My sweet friend Kim P. emailed me shortly after I posted and got it right. She gets bragging rights officially. But I am very impressed with those that have never met me and still got it. You are amazing people. Kim, I have something for you next time I see you. It is a mere thanks for loving us, following us and praying for us.

Thanks to each of you. This week has been so hard. It has not totally cleared yet. I began crying last night as I was driving to Allison's house last night and saw a sweet Tinkerbell out with her mommy. She was probably only about 18 months. Natalie was going to be Tinkerbell last year. I never even took the time to put her costume on her. Had she lived to Halloween, we were going to bring it to the hospital and put it on top of here just so I could get a picture. Now, it is retired into the Natalie box at home. I doubt Alie will wear it next year. I think she will be a peacock instead.

Today we are at my sister's celebrating Anna Kathryn's 1st birthday. I am so happy to be here, excited to share this milestone with my sister. We will have a blast. AK is the cutest little munchkin. And the sounds she makes...priceless! Emily and AK are playing on the floor right now and it is precious. I am off to get my camera!


Hillary, Bryan, Emily, especially our angel baby Natalie, and Allison