Friday, 28 June 2013

Another Night Shift

I think I'll start calling my sleepless nights, the night shift.  Even with the help of medication, sometimes my pain is too intense to quiet.

I'm sure the pain tonight comes from a few sources.  My day started out well, taking Sadie to her beloved music class.  She sang her heart out and had a blast as per usual.  Sadie and I had a mommy and daughter date at McDonalds too.

After lunch we drove to the Children's Hospital to visit a friend and her daughter.  On the drive there, I felt sad and talked with Sadie about how much I missed Hope.  She informed me that I would be happy when I had a new baby.  Always putting in a plug for the new sibling she wants so desperately.  In the parking lot, I walked past license plates and vehicles that I had memorized as I used to pass by them each morning.  Families that had also been at the hospital long term, ones that still had a reason to be there.  As I walked into the unit I saw the nurse practitioner that had followed Hope on the purple team.  She was an absolute gift and also the best one to draw blood from Hope's scalp.  Seeing her brought on the teary eyes.  I passed a few nurses that I had not seen and was able to hug, some that were excited to see Sadie again too.

Sadie and I visited with our friend and her daughter that continues to struggle for her life.  We sat next to her twins and fed one of them as his brother slept.  I've spent so much time in the hospital, it's almost a familiar comfortable place.  Perhaps the fact that we'd spent the most recent part of our journey in the ICU and not on the ward made the difference.  I was okay being there, in a hallway that Hope had spent the greatest portion of her life.

Sadie and I left after only 30 minutes.  I know it's good for me to get back there and I do miss so many of the staff.  I just wish I had a reason to go everyday still.  The onset of this long weekend does not help.  We lost Hope the day after a long weekend.  I remember feeling like we were missing out on a long weekend because Hope was in the hospital.  Now I wish I could spend this one there.  I was so burnt out, I spent hours of that long weekend out with Sadie while Shawn cuddled Hope.  Time he'll forever cherish and I'll continue to miss.  I wish I had known that Tuesday morning that it was our last day.  I would have fought to get on the plane with her.  I would have stopped them from intubating her until Shawn was able to get there and hold her again.  I wouldn't have put her down, not even to use the washroom.  If I had known, I wouldn't have been able to look at her face like I did that day.  I would have been crying too hard to see her beautiful eyes through my tears and her chin that stuck out so sweetly.  Maybe ignorance is truly bliss.

Yesterday I went to donate blood for the first time.  I'm not a fan of needles and I would not describe myself as strong.  I can become light headed and exhausted quite easily.  I brought a friend along for strength, but also to ensure one of us could drive home.  As they poked my finger to test my blood before beginning, I thought of Hope.  Each time they wiped her heel with alcohol she knew the poke was coming.  As I waited for it myself I realized that waiting for the poke was much worse than the pain.  She had it done so many times that she knew right away, even as a newborn.

As I sat in the chair, my blood pouring into the bag, I thought of the numerous times those bags of blood hung next to Hope.  I looked around the room at complete strangers that had given their free time to come and donate blood.  Many strangers, just like the ones around me, had given 20 minutes of their time and given us 13 months with Hope.  Without the gift that each person made, we would have lost her many times over.  I wish I could personally thank every donor whose blood was pumped into my child.  I thanked one man on the way out, but could not properly articulate how I felt.  It made me want to go into high schools and rally 17 year olds to start donating regularly.  If everyone who was able did, there'd be no shortage.

A long weekend, a trip to the hospital and donating blood.  The deadly combination that puts me back on the night shift once again.  I ran my hands over the sleepers in her drawer tonight.  Spent time looking at the brand new clothes, hanging in her closet that will never be worn by her.  Stroked her crib that she spent too little time in.  Moved pictures of her around in the house.  Looked at medical supplies we had no purpose for.  Folded laundry and once again longed for her clothes and blankets to be included.

No matter how deep the pain of losing Hope, I cannot stop remembering how deep God's love for me is.  I read in a book tonight that God is not far from the brokenhearted, he is closer than ever as we need him more than we ever have before.  I hate that Hope died, I hate that she suffered when she was alive. I hate that I will always be a mother that is missing one of her children.  Yet, I cannot hate God and truly do not feel angry.  Without the Lord, I would have missed out on so much more of Hope's life.  He gave me the strength to get to the hospital.  The strength to sit and do nothing for hours with a person that never spoke and often did not smile.  God gave me a love for a child that I knew from the beginning could be taken from me.  I don't question why God allowed Hope to be born broken, I can see the evidence all around me.  Hope's life made an impact, people's hearts were turned to God.  I don't understand why she had to die, maybe I won't until I see God face to face.  Regardless, I choose to trust the God that has carried me this far and believe that he will continue to carry me until he carries me home to be with Hope.  Without God, there is no hope for tomorrow.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Love Continued

I continue to be amazed at the thoughtfulness of others.  I was fairly certain that 5 weeks after losing Hope, most of the world would have forgotten.  I was very wrong.  Just yesterday an edible arrangement arrived from a friend, just to remind me that she was still praying and had not forgotten.  I am always touched at the reminder that Hope continues to impact lives on this earth, even after she left it.

I still have odd feelings at times.  I feel an urge to drive to the hospital to go see Hope or run up to her room to check on her in the crib.  I will look up at a picture of her in our home and suddenly realize all over again that she's gone.  It's almost like my brain forces me to forget that she's already in Heaven.  Other days Shawn and I both feel like we've forgotten Hope's death completely.  Either God has given us an immense peace, or we are still numb.  We often discuss the fact that we feel like we're doing 'too' well and should be crying more.  Don't get me wrong, I have my bad moments.  Recently I called my mom at 2:30am, her time, to cry into the phone for 2 hours when I couldn't sleep and Shawn needed to get to work in the morning.  Overall, we find we have moved back into a normal routine and can make it through most days without a severe breakdown.  It's more common at the moment for me to well up with tears when I think of Hope, cherish her memory for a moment and move on with whatever I'm doing.

I'm planning to make a trip back to the hospital sometime soon.  I haven't set a date for myself, but would like to go back and return some of the supplies we have in the next few weeks.  I think I'll be okay.  It helps that Hope was still alive when she left the Calgary hospital, I relate her death to the Edmonton hospital and would likely struggle more there.  I was thrilled to hear this week that the Stollery Hospital finally received the $55 million dollar grant they had been seeking from the government.  Their ICU is in deep need of expansion.  Had this been done years earlier, Hope would have likely gone into the OR in January and could still be alive today.  I pray this expansion saves the lives of more children when it's completed.

Our family was blessed to not be affected by the floods in Southern Alberta.  Our home is up on a hill and remained dry.  Shawn has been home from work for the last 3 work days because of evacuation orders to his downtown office.  Sadie and I have enjoyed the time with Shawn and were thankful that he was home on the one month anniversary of Hope's death.

Each day without Hope is different.  Sadie is still adjusting to the changes and is clearly thinking of Hope.  On the weekend a friend asked another child where his sister was.  Sadie quickly answered, "my sister is dead".  It's never easy to think about Sadie not having a sister to visit or snuggle with any longer.  She often longs for constant adult interaction and that can be draining, as I deal with my own desire to sit and do nothing at times.

Thank you to everyone that has continued to pray for our family as we grieve.  Thank you for all of the practical help and love that you've given.  We know that without your prayers and encouragement, we would not be doing so well.  I have found it difficult to sit and pray alone since Hope's death.  I continue to feel too emotionally overwhelmed when I try.  I have tried to focus on praying with Sadie, reading her stories and teaching her about the Bible.  It's a way that I can connect with God at a level that I'm ready for.  It's a good habit to be in with Sadie anyway, and it will likely be a new routine in our family.  One month of grief down, a lifetime to go.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

How Are You?

Everyone I see asks how I'm doing.  It's not a bad question to ask, I simply don't have the energy to answer it completely.  So, I'll answer it here.  We are doing okay, not great but also not horribly.  It can change by the hour or even by the minute.  I'm clearly holding more pain than I'm aware of as my stomach is unsettled daily and I feel like everything I eat makes me feel worse.  I have a really difficult time sleeping and have finally gone to the doctor for some assistance.  I avoid going to bed until it's extremely late, then struggle to fall asleep.  I'm exhausted in the morning, but wired the next evening as my body fights sleep once again.  Last night I finally fell asleep easily, thanks to some help.  Unfortunately I don't want this to be a long term need and I'll only have help for 2 weeks.

Sadie still talks to me about her sister everyday.  Yesterday in the car she asked me if Jesus had wipes.  She said that he would need them to take care of Hope.  I told her that Jesus had everything he needed to care for Hope in Heaven.  Sadie looked up and said, "but he doesn't have us."  Those moments are difficult.  I agree with her, I simply can't jump into a conversation like that without breaking down.  I know it's okay to cry in front of her, but I don't feel its good for her to see me sobbing and irrational.

Shawn and I struggle in many ways because of the relief we feel.  We have been contacted by many families that have lost children.  There are some ways that we can connect with their story, but many that we cannot.  If we lost Sadie, we would be able to connect with their pain.  Losing a child that you deeply love, but that is extremely sick and has been in hospital for 9 months straight at the time she died, is simply too different.  Hope suffered.  She did not have any guarantees at a future and we had to choose to raise Hope and missed out on a lot of raising Sadie.  I would take Hope back in a second, if she was home and stable.  I wouldn't take Hope back the way she was though.  I can't imagine allowing her to come back to be poked multiple times a day.   To be attached to wires that prevented her from seeing the sunshine and developing properly.  I loved to snuggle Hope and selfishly I want that back, but nothing else in her life was good.  She is so much happier now and although it hurts, we feel so much relief for her.

I keep myself very busy.  I don't find it helpful to have an open day with no schedule.  Sadie is thrilled to be playing with all of her friends again and I am happy to be connecting with their moms.  I'm trying to do some normal things around the house, like cleaning a toilet.  I have been able to get to some things, but find that I burn out more quickly.  Some days I sit in Hope's room and go through all of her blankets and sleepers and touch them and remember the days she wore them.  I would love to dress her again and snap on her sleeper.  I long to change her diaper again, one that never got larger than a size 1 even after 13 months of life.  When I stand at the park with Sadie, I feel like my arms feel odd and should be holding Hope.  If I'm there with someone else I'm distracted and those thoughts are more fleeting.

Even a trip to Superstore can be difficult.  Yesterday I went to the Pharmacy to fill a prescription and instantly thought of all the times I was there to pick up Hope's medications.  Walking past the baby clothes I could see things I would have bought for Hope, heart covered sleepers and slippers.  As I packed my bags I found a note with the transplant coordinator's phone number at the hospital.  When I arrived home I found Hope's autopsy report in our mail.

Reading the autopsy was difficult.  We will be meeting with her cardiologist in the near future to discuss it.  It's like reading a foreign language and we need to fully understand it.  It was the written account of her last night that deeply grieved me.  Hope arrived in Edmonton at 7 pm and survived two cardiac arrests, one at 7:22 and another at 8:00.  I arrived at 8:30 and her time of death is listed at 8:41, the moment they stopped treating her and put her into my arms.  Although her heart was still beating from the medications and the breathing tube was still in, they already believed she was gone.  I still hate that I followed the law and did not speed the entire way.  I could have been there at 8 instead of 8:30.

Overall the report shows that Hope's heart was so much worse than they realized.  She should have been listed for a transplant months earlier and she could have benefitted from a cardiac surgery, although risky.  It's difficult to read that we did have options.  Although they were options that Hope's body did not show well and it was difficult for the doctors to see what she needed.  It was often that way with Hope, her body never properly reflected her needs and we were left guessing.

I am a broken woman that is only whole in Christ.  My family is missing a member and although we find that living each day is possible and we are okay, we remain broken.  We will only truly be whole again in Heaven with Jesus and sweet Hope.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Scars of Beauty, Not of Pain

This morning I lay in bed next to Shawn as he battled getting up for his first day back at work.  I tried to patiently remind him that he needed to get going.  I felt guilty that I would not have to endure such a difficult return and that the only thing on my schedule for the day was a visit from some friends.  A gift that I have, only because Shawn works so hard to make it possible for me to stay home with Sadie.  I watched him leave for work this morning and felt so proud of him for doing something that used to be simple, and now felt impossible.

I spoke to Shawn a couple of hours after he arrived.  I have been in awe of how amazing Interpipeline Fund has been through this entire journey.  Once again I was touched by their deep care, respect and sensitivity.  Shawn was receiving the support he needed and was doing well.  I honestly feel that many companies could learn from how they have handled our journey with Hope.  I have nothing but praise for their kindness and patience over the last year and a half.  They deserve to be honoured.

It is now 1 am and I'm still not able to sleep.  I'm sure that some of it is the time change from Maui, but I know that the nights are also when I miss Hope the most.  There are so many things in life that make me think of Hope.  I got up this morning and came downstairs for breakfast, on the counter is Hope's SIN card that I need to cancel.  Her pictures are all over our walls and her room is still full of her things.  I have not been able to stop sleeping with her stuffed bunny and I find her things in little places too.  Tonight I went into my make up bag in my purse to grab something and found Hope's teething ointment and some liquid sugar that we used to put on her soother.  At the grocery store this evening. I saw a bunch of gerbera daisies.  At her first birthday one of our favourite nurses brought Hope a single white gerbera daisy.  She handed it to me and said, "next year I'll bring her two".  I will forever think of her when I see them and it's the reason we had them on her casket.  I see hearts on others clothing, spray painted on the street, in photos and in signs.  I see her everywhere and I miss her like crazy.

At times I feel numb because I can look at her picture and not think about her being gone, just how beautiful I think she is.  Sadie talks about her often and I can answer her questions without feeling a sting in my heart.  Last night over dinner Sadie asked if God had a sister.  I told her that God did not have a sister.  She responded, "well he does now, he has my sister Hope".  The way her mind works is amazing to me and it shows how often she thinks of Hope as well.

I went to bed tonight and tried to fall asleep.  I started thinking about the music class I hope to take Sadie to tomorrow.  Then I felt overwhelmed with fear that there would be people I didn't know there and they could ask me how many children I have.  I don't want to answer those questions and worry I'm not ready to meet any new people in life.  At the same time, maybe I just need to get over the first time someone asks me in order to know that I'll be okay.

I had to put the bill from the funeral home at the bottom of my stack of papers to file.  I'm tempted to throw it out now that it's paid.  I don't want to remember that part of Hope's life and I hate that I had to plan her funeral.  I have started planning Sadie's 3rd birthday for next month and long to be planning Hope's next year.  I want to help her pick out a graduation dress and a wedding dress.  I am often reminded of the things we will never be able to do together on this earth.

My cousin Joshua wrote a song that I listened to in Maui.  While listening to the chorus, I could picture Hope worshiping in Heaven.  I could see her scar still on her chest, no longer representing pain and suffering, but now representing beauty and strength.  She didn't look sad or lonely at all.  Although I believe she deeply loves us and looks forward to seeing us, she is more than happy to wait for us in Heaven....a place where she feels no pain, is never put through a medical procedure and does not feel alone, ever.

I know that grief is a new journey we are on and that it is a long one.  I wish I never had to walk along this road.  Only 3 weeks after Hope's death, I feel like it has been years.  Holding her feels like something I haven't done for months and her smell and the sounds she made are already fading in my memory.  Even in our pain, I feel like we are doing well.  At times I feel guilty for being okay and for getting up and living life each day.  At the same time, I would want nothing less for Sadie and I know that Hope is not honoured by me staying in bed and crying.  Each day is a new challenge and each hour comes with new emotions.  I remind myself that each hour and each day that passes, takes me one day closer to Jesus returning or my old age and my own journey to Heaven.  I've never been so excited to get old.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Hope Holly Lincoln- Heart Beats Run 2013

We are already getting ready to run for Heart Beats ( once again this October.  For those that are interested in running on team Hope Holly Lincoln, we would love to have you.  To sign up you need to visit the following link:

To run or walk the 5 km you need to enter the password: zek28cuz under Amy Koslowski

To run or walk the 10 km you need to enter the password: vim35ves under Shawn Koslowski

If you would like to join us this year, please sign up as soon as possible so we'll know how many t-shirts to order for our team.  If you do not live in Calgary (the only place this run happens) and would like to make a difference, please sponsor someone here that is attending.  We are making the t-shirts ourselves so the cost of the t-shirts is purely for printing and will not raise money for Heart Beats.  
Thank you to everyone that plans to be involved, whether participating at the run or sponsoring a runner.  

Now that Lincoln and Hope have both gone to be with Jesus, this run is an annual way for us to remember them.  It is also a time to raise awareness for organ donation as Holly is only with us today because a family made the difficult decision to donate their child's heart.  If you have a heart child that is important to you that you would like to run for, but still want to be on our team, please feel free to bring a sharpie and represent them on our team t-shirts as well!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

From Hope's Nana........"Agonizing Joy"

It’s been over two weeks now, since that night that will forever be etched in my memory. …..the night I held and caressed the lifeless body of our precious Hope for the very last time.  As we raced from the Calgary airport to the Stollery in Edmonton (at speeds of 160-170 kms. an hour), I begged God to let me hold her just one more time.   Each mile seemed like an eternity – I have never felt such an urgency to be physically there for my daughter, Amy, like I did that night.  To find out, moments later, that Hope had already gone and that Shawn was still some distance away was indescribable pain that tore through my body like a ravaging cancer.  It was an emotion that I’d never experienced before.   The reality seemed inconceivable….. 

We hadn’t been together as a whole family since November of 2011, which was just days before Amy’s ultrasound where we first learned of Hope’s heart defect.   Because we all live so far away from each other, we try to plan a family vacation every two years – our son-in-laws fondly call this their “MFV”….Mandatory Family Vacation!  (nevertheless, we still invite them every time!)  Anyway, this year, since Hope was still in the hospital and was awaiting a new heart, we decided that we would have a different kind of family vacation….. one that evolved around Hope and helping out Amy and Shawn.  We decided we would all meet in Calgary and just do fun kid activities around the city, while taking turns cuddling Hope and helping look after Sadie.  When I think of the way that God orchestrated it so that all of us could be there for Shawn, Amy and Sadie, within hours of Hope’s death, I am amazed and in awe of His perfect timing.   As much as I was looking forward to our family get-together, I had remarked to a couple of people that I wondered if God maybe had another reason for us to all be gathering at this time…..a reason that none of us would even want to consider or imagine.  

When I think about these days since Hope went to be with Jesus, it’s hard to put the multitude of emotions into words, but the phrase that keeps coming to my mind is…. “agonizing joy”.  Not the kind of “joy” that you associate with skipping down the road, whistling a merry tune, but the joy that comes from deep within….the underlying assurance that even in the storm “It is indeed well with my soul”…..the reminder of  a welcomed and time-tested promise…….the acknowledgement of the sure and secret plan of purposeful pain.  As I held Hope tight in my arms that night, I felt agonizing joy.  To think that she would no longer be with us and that, after 412 days of life with Hope, there would be no more on this earth.  That thought was sheer and utter agony.  But as I tenderly kissed her head that night, over and over, I whispered in her ear, “you are free Hope!....finally free!”.   She was free of her hospital bed, free of her daily pokes, free of all the wires and lines that ran from her body to beeping machines, free of her weak and failing half-heart……..such agonizing joy.  I pictured her running to meet her Great Grandpa (my dad) for the very first time and jumping and twirling and having endless energy…..something she had never known before.  I knew immediately that she was with Jesus and that she finally had her new and most perfect heart!

As the family continued to arrive over the next 12 hours, we were reunited once again, after 18 months apart.  In just a matter of hours, I had held one of my grandchildren for the very last time, held another grandchild for the very first time, and felt even another grandbaby in the belly of her mamma for the  first time……such agonizing joy.  

Constantly, over these last two weeks, I would hear the laughter and giggles of Sadie and her little cousins playing together.  One evening, after getting them all in their P.J.’s, we assembled them in chronological age on the couch for the traditional photo of all the grandchildren together.  To signify the place where Hope should be, was her little bunny, held by her cousin Sawyer, and it was painfully obvious that there was someone sadly missing in this picture. And, as much as I cherish these precious photos of all my grandchildren together, it was heartbreakingly evident to me that every single family photo from this day onward would always have someone missing….our precious Little Miss Hope…..and yet, I knew that she was with Jesus and imagined that He was holding her and and telling her how much her family loved her and missed her and that, one day, we would all be together again…..such agonizing joy.  

During Hope’s funeral, I stood beside our daughter as she and Shawn were just inches away from their baby girl’s casket and I watched her raise her hands in worship as she sang “How great is our God” and “Blessed be the name of the Lord”.  After all those years of affirming to her that God is good ALL the time, and that His plans are always for our ultimate good, and that He is worthy of ALL our praise, no matter what life brings our way, it was evident that Amy and Shawn not only believed those things but LIVED them, unashamed and unabandoned.   As a parent in that moment, I felt so proud to be Amy’s mom.  It was agonizing joy in its' purest form.

Throughout our time in Calgary, we watched as a vast community of people who had  surrounded Shawn and Amy over the past 13 months and beyond, continued to selflessly pour out their love, encouragement, prayers and endless gifts of their time to help make life bearable in the midst of the unbearable road we now found ourselves on.   Flowers arrived, endless meals were left on our doorstep, people willingly jumped in to organize music, programs, livestreaming, babysitters and words of reflection for the funeral, and numerous other tasks that just seemed insurmountable to us at the time.  We were kindly offered a mountain retreat which very comfortably housed our entire family for 5 days in Radium, BC.  God continually left countless post-it notes of His love for us, reminding us that He was always there and would never abandon us, even in our tears and aching hearts….such agonizing joy.

To sit in Hope’s room at the new house……a room she never got to see, and look around at the artwork people have made for Hope, the stuffed toys people have given to her and the pictures that people have taken of her…….such agonizing joy.

Hope knew she was loved.  She knew that her mom, dad, sister, extended family and numerous cuddlers and friends, loved her so completely and from very deep within their hearts.  She knew that she was cherished and treasured beyond measure.  Her life was a priceless gift to us.  And even though life with Hope was often filled with challenges, disappointments, heartache and uncertainty, her life depicted an immense depth of love that was demonstrated by all those who knew her and those whom she had never even met before..  From pumping breast milk every day, to organizing her cuddling schedule, Hope was deeply loved.   That is why she will be so deeply missed and so deeply mourned.  Her life however, although far too short, was worth every challenge, every tear, every day spent in the hospital, and every unfulfilled dream for the future.

It struck me tonight, that since the moment we first heard of her, Hope has had a broken heart.  Many times, throughout this past year and a half, I have remarked that I wished I could have given Hope my heart.  I would have done so in a heartbeat, just as I would for any of my children or grandchildren.  I longed for her to have a whole heart, one that was perfect and healthy in every way.  Finally, now she has one.  And, in giving her the most perfect heart she could ever have, it means that we are left here to live life without her, and now WE are the ones with the broken heart.  Thankfully, God has promised that He will be close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).  Knowing that is agonizing joy.

I keep thinking of the words of a nurse in Edmonton that were said to me months ago.  As we stood beside Hope’s bed, I asked her….”do you think Hope is going to make it?”  To that she replied, “Hope has already fulfilled her purpose on this earth even in her short little life – she has already brought glory and honour to the God that made her”.   Through Hope’s journey, people have given their lives to Christ, rekindled that relationship they once had with Him that had long grown cold, found a passion for prayer like never before, reached out and extended a hand to another in need, and learned more about unconditional love than they ever knew before.   Hope’s story is still a story of hope and it is far from being over.  Although we are devastated and our hearts are ripped apart, we know that God is using her life and even her death for bigger and better things.  We would never have chosen this road to walk, but we are reminded that Hope never asked for the difficult journey that was her life either.   To know that God can take the most heartwrenching realities and make something beautiful and purposeful out of it, is agonizing joy and, right now, that is enough for me .  HE is enough.

Hope, your Nana and Grandpa will always love you and you will hold a special place in our hearts forever.   You have opened our eyes to what is really important in this world and we are grateful to God for each of those 412 days that we were blessed to have you with us.  We look forward to the day when we will see you again, as you welcome us Home.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Heavenly Hyatt

I contacted the Hyatt in Maui before Shawn and I left Radium.  I wanted to see if they had any discounted rates as we knew that Sadie would love the pool and wanted to spend some time there, but also felt silly doing that when we had a place to stay with friends for free.  The next day I got a call from the hotel here, and they wanted us to come and stay for two nights, absolutely free.  We were floored and so touched by the generosity of a major hotel that took the time to bless one small family.

We arrived at the hotel this afternoon and Sadie is so excited.  She has not taken a single step without a jump included.  We could not change and head to the pool fast enough for her.  She was so impressed with the incredible kiddie pool, the water slides and amazing toys.  Even the menu for lunch by the pool was incredible for kids.  We feel beyond blessed and came back to our room excited to run to the grocery store for some snacks.  When we arrived, a hotel employee was standing at our door about to deliver some cupcakes, snacks and drinks from the hotel manager.  Once again, I was so touched and Sadie lit up and has been happily dancing around our room with her cupcake in hand.  I look forward to writing them a note when I leave, as this is an amazing gift to our family and, although losing Hope has been horrible, we have felt so much love and find the strength to get through each day.

As we sat by the pool today and I saw all the families there with their children, I wondered if they knew how blessed they were.  Did they realize that life is unpredictable and there are no guarantees?  Were they enjoying the smiles from their children and the time they were able to spend with them?  I find that in some moments I am so happy to be with Sadie and soak in the opportunity to spend time with her.  At other times I feel broken and struggle to be a mom when I feel like having a shower so I can sit on the floor and cry in the bathroom.  

We continue to feel that people are praying us through this tragedy.  We still look at pictures of Hope often in the day, notice every heart that someone is wearing and long to hold her again.  I continue to pray that her life, short as it was, will greatly impact the kingdom and give some purpose to our pain.

Hope, I wish you were splashing next to your sister.  At the same time, I am jealous that you are face to face with Jesus.  That thought makes it easier for me to smile, even though you're no longer here.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Every Heart is a Memory

Shawn and I left Calgary on Monday afternoon with Sadie and flew to Maui.  In many ways we were running away from our return to 'normal' life.  I'm not saying that is a bad thing, I am absolutely dreading the return to Calgary.  No one sits in Maui and wants to go home, but I wouldn't care if Calgary was more beautiful than Maui, going home means facing the loss of Hope after the shock has worn off.  I've come to realize that a major breakdown is waiting just around the corner and the exhaustion of the last 13 months is a weight that is waiting to fall on top of me.  I feel as though we're living in a dream at the moment, able to enjoy life and smile, but fear the moment that disappears.  I know we will feel joy again, but I fear the breakdown.

Sadie has been incredible.  Finally being able to spend quality time with her again and seeing her thrive with both parents in her life has been amazing.  I am the most biased person in the world, but she is an amazing little girl.  I love the way she talks about Hope constantly with no hesitation.  She told a complete stranger in the airport on the playground that her sister Hope died.  To which the little girl responded, "you hope your sister dies?"  Sadie proceeded to drag the girl over to Shawn so he could explain that her sister DID die.  She later informed me on the plane that I would have a new baby in my belly soon.  It was the first thing she asked me this morning, "do you have a new baby yet?"  Apparently she was unaware that with the time change, we went to bed at 3am Calgary time, no time for new babies!

Shawn and I are in the process of praying through what we want to do.  Many people have asked us and I can say that we both would like to have another child.  Not to replace Hope, but to give Sadie a sibling and to hopefully experience the joy of bringing home a healthy baby once again.  I was thinking today about whether or not I would have had Hope if I knew she would have been taken away at 13 months of age.  I decided I would have, every day was a gift, even if there were only 412 of them.  We need to pray about when we'll be ready to think about doing this, our wounds are so fresh.

I'm reading a book about another Mother's journey with grief.  In it, she talks about how when they went to the beach for a vacation with friends, she found that she would feel better while she was there.  She describes how returning home from these vacations from her pain was always more difficult than she expected.  I dread it.

We already know that coming here was the right thing to do.  I am praying that for this week, time moves incredibly slowly and each day lingers on.  I miss Hope desperately and picture her everywhere we go.  I can't stop scrolling through her pictures on my phone.  Oh what I would give to see a glimpse of her smiling in Heaven.  Everything I see that has a heart catches my eye.  Every heart makes me think of her.  I'm so thankful we have Sadie through this time.  I could not even imagine going through this without laughter in our home.  Please continue to pray for us, especially when we return to Calgary to face reality.