Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Happy 10th Birthday CJ

Dear CJ,

A whole decade has passed since you first came into our lives. You are everything I ever imagined and then some.  This has been a wild 10 years with you, but all very memorable. I'm looking forward to what the next 10 years will bring. Will you continue playing baseball? Go on to pursue being a monster truck driver? Or perhaps you'll fall back in love with fire fighting.

Whatever you do, I just hope you'll be happy doing it. That's all I ever want.  I hope you will always have that big heart that you have and that great sense of humor.  And even though most of time your stubbornness drives me crazy I want you to keep that too, just maybe not as much with me.

I hope 10 is all you imagined it would be.  Happy birthday CJ! I love you.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

College Essay

Natalie had been working on her college essay to include with her applications for quite some time before applying to colleges this year. I was very touched by the subject she chose to write her essay about and well, everyone who read it that I'm aware of was very moved by it. I've been sitting on it for quite some time, but now that the applications are in, the colleges have all made their decision and she is in the final stages of getting into college I asked her if she minded if I shared her essay. She agreed to allow me to share it.

I do want to warn those who have experienced an infant or pregnancy loss, this might be difficult to read. Natalie was just 9 years old when I lost her sister Celeste, but it had a huge impact on her life, as it did all of ours. Many members of the family are deeply impacted by the loss of a pregnancy or infant when this happens. Here's how it affected Natalie.

How could a life so fragile leave such an impact in so short a time? Someone I never even got the chance to officially meet and get to know left me feeling broken and empty.

Christmas was right around the corner, and I was in a very joyous mood; nothing could ruin it. I had just walked through the front door, immediately feeling the warmth of home, when my parents instructed me to sit down. I sat on the floor in front of them; by their looks of sorrow and pain I could tell whatever they had to tell me wouldn’t be good. I sat there, calm and expectant; waiting for the news. Once they told me the awful news, I wished they hadn’t. The baby inside Mommy’s belly had died. The room got cloudy and the warm saltiness of my tears streamed down my face. I got up and ran to my room. I couldn’t let my parents see me cry. They were being strong for me, so I wanted to be strong for them. Besides, I needed to be alone with my thoughts, my sadness and my anger with God and the world.

I kept hearing my parents saying, “She didn’t make it. Your sister’s gone…” Those two sentences rang in my ears over and over. Why did this have to happen? Was God punishing me for something I did?

The next day, December 6, 2008, was the day of the biggest failure of my life. After spending all night and day hoping for a miracle, hoping the doctors had made a mistake in saying my baby sister wasn’t with us anymore, I was brought into my mother’s hospital room.

Lying next to her bed was Celeste Alia, not moving, all wrapped up in a pink blanket. She looked so small, so fragile, as if she were sleeping… as if she weren’t already flying high in heaven. I couldn’t stop looking at her. She was beautiful.

My mom must’ve noticed how focused I was on my sister. She asked, “Would you like to hold her?”

The choice I made will always haunt me. Speaking quietly, as if afraid to wake her, I declined.

When my little sister needed me the most, I said “No.” She was too small, too fragile. My whole body shook with fear of breaking her.

I repeatedly ask myself, “Why was I was so afraid of breaking her? Why didn’t I get over my fear and just hold her and be there for her?” I should’ve taken advantage of the little time I had with my sister because she soon wouldn’t be with us, physically. I will never be able to see her face, I will never be able to hold her and I will never be able to make my mistake up to her.

That failure has burdened me ever since I made that choice. Celeste needed me and I needed her. In her short time on this earth she left marks on so many people surrounding her. I have learned through her that you have to be there for your family. Despite the negativity surrounding that early–December day, I have gleaned some insight from that failure: There is never a time in your life when it’s okay to take advantage of family. They are the only people who will always be there for you, no matter the circumstance.

Since then, I have focused on bringing comfort and joy into the lives of people surrounding me. I want to be a “heavenly” and full-of-life person, someone for people to come to whenever they need a new outlook on life. I want to help people overcome their fears and be someone people find comfort in. In life we need to move beyond our fears and live for the now, because not everyone gets to enjoy life. Not everyone gets the chance to live.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy 18th Birthday

Dear Natalie,

What can I say to you that I haven't said? I can't believe you're 18. I look at you everyday and am simply amazed at the young woman you have become. And sometimes I swear it happened when I blinked. You are such a smart and beautiful young woman with a really great head on your shoulders. And I know this year hasn't been easy and you think I don't trust you to make the right choices, but I do. I just worry. And I'm your mom so that's allowed.

I am so proud of you. I admire how much you are loving being with the Kindergartners at school and helping out in that class. I love watching you with your brother and sisters, most of the time. You are a great big sister and a great role model to younger children. That in and of itself is plenty to be proud of, but along with all of that you have always maintained a family first attitude. I know that's why it has been so hard for you to choose the right college. I'm sure you'll do what's right for you though and whatever choice you make I will support you, I just want you to make a choice.

This has been a crazy whirlwind year in so many ways. So many changes for you, but it's all part of growing up. The best is yet to come and I hope you embrace the rest of the changes that are on the horizon for you. I love you. Happy birthday!


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Happy 15th Birthday

Dear Kaitlyn,

Happy birthday, you're halfway to 30, or a quarter of the way to 60. I know you have been excitedly anticipating me declaring that you made it to halfway to 30. So there it is kiddo.

This year has been full of changes for you. You're really maturing and coming into your own and I love watching you do what you do. You are fearless and I'm always in awe of you. I'm enjoying this ride we're on together and watching you as you plan your future and make hard choices seemingly easily. It's not easy to abandon something you dreamed of for so long and try something that you never even imagined it was for you. I think I was more nervous about this decision than you were though. You have taken it and run with it and you're doing great. I really look forward to seeing all the things that you do.

If I had one piece of advice for you it would be don't be so hard on yourself. You sometimes can be your toughest critic. You have skills and people recognize that. Believe that they are right and keep showing your naysayers what you got. Because when you put your mind to something you will always shock and amaze people. You do for me all the time. I'm so proud of you.

I hope 15 is a great year for you. I'm looking forward to our day together of ear piercing, haircuts, lunch, and painting. Happy 15th birthday Kaitlyn. I love you.