Sunday, April 22, 2018

Happy 19th Birthday Natalie

Dear Natalie,

This is a rough year for us, and probably the hardest birthday letter I have had to write to you to date. And probably not for the reasons you think. I love you so much and I hate the wedge that has come between us. Maybe it's all a part of growing up and spreading your wings. Probably mostly because I have a hard time letting go. I can't bear to see you hurt and yet it feels like I'm also the one that keeps causing you pain. Maybe someday you'll get where I'm coming from, I'm hoping sooner rather than later of course. I really just want you to be happy and a successful productive member of society. And as shocking as it may be I do know a thing or two. I know it's hard to step out of your comfort zone and just bite the bullet and go for it, but sometimes that's what you have to do to have all of those life experiences that you want.

We are so very much alike in so many ways, which is part of why we probably fight so very hard. The path that you are walking down is a very similar one to what I took. And while I would never change a thing about the choices I have made in life, I also don't want you to follow in my footsteps just because I wouldn't change anything about my life. You can have everything you want if you can find a nice even keel balance. And sometimes that might mean saying no to the person you want to disappoint the least right now. If he truly loves you, then he should understand and want to support you.

For the last 19 years now I have advocated for you to make sure that no one ever takes you for granted and that they will see what I know is inside of you. And guess what Kiddo, I'm not going to stop now just because you are an adult. Face it, you are stuck with me. No one will know you the way that I do. No one else knows the story of you the way that I do. And no one else will ever love you the way that I do. You are a piece of my heart walking outside of my body and I will fight fiercely to make sure that you are treated right. I do have room in my heart to open up to that special someone in your life, but you have got to give me a fair shake and not put us in uncomfortable positions where I feel like I, and therefore you (because you are a piece of my heart) are being disrespected.

While you are trying to figure out your place in life please don't lose yourself in the process. Remember the things that have always been important to you. It doesn't have to be one or the other, you can have it all. Sacrifices will have to be made, but never forget your values and where you come from. I was at this story from the very beginning, and I won't see it through to the end, but please let me be there with you until my end.

I love you. Happy 19th birthday Nat!

Love always,

My Dearest Celeste

I haven't written to you in a while, or really about you even. You would be 9 right about now. I'm not entirely sure what it is that made me want to write to you now. Of course today was your due date. While I do think of you daily, this is the day that you're definitely not far from my thoughts at all. Wonder what you would have been like, what you would have liked, what you would have disliked. Would you want to have participated in our girl day of manicures with your oldest sister and baby sister, or preferred to skip it like your older sister? Would you love to read and write, or work with your hands? What would your relationship be like with your siblings? I wonder how different things would have turned out if we hadn't lost you. I guess I've been doing a lot of reflection lately on things. What would have happened if we followed a different road or more to the point someone else had followed a different road. Perhaps that is why I felt the need to write to you now. All of those what could have beens.

We can't go back though, all we can do is go forward. While I will probably always wonder what could have been and who you could have been I will just have to go on. There was a reason I didn't get to be your mother here on earth, and someday in the hopefully very distant future we will meet again and perhaps some of my questions will be answered. I will continue to look for signs though that you are always with us, always in my heart, always on my mind, always watching over us. I miss you Angel Celeste Alia. I love you.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Happy Sweet 16 Kaitlyn

Dear Kaitlyn,

How is it that you are 16? I can't believe it. It has been a pleasure being your mother and watching you learn and grow. You have been an amazing advocate for yourself especially this year at school and really have kept yourself on the right track. I'm so proud and very relieved to know that you got this. And always know I will also always have your back. So if you're ever "not getting your way" (ha-ha) you know who to call on. I will take on anyone who's not treating you right or doing for you what you deserve.

I know things around here have been very crazy and tense lately. It's not your job though to fix things that have been happening at home lately. I appreciate and love you so much that you want to make things easier for me, but I know everything will work out just the way it's supposed to. I might get mad and yell and scream and maybe even complain about what's happening, but it's not something you need to be worried about. You just keep being you and working your butt off to get whatever you want.

The sky is the limit for you. I can't wait to see what the next two years of high school are going to bring for you and beyond. I have no doubt that whatever you want to happen you will make happen for yourself though and you'll do it with courage and conviction never losing who you are. Keep dreaming big and pushing hard. You keep breaking those glass ceilings and showing people that when you put your mind to something you will make it happen!

Happy sweet 16 Katie Kiddles. I hope it's everything you wanted.


Friday, February 2, 2018

Alyssa's 7th Birthday

Dear Alyssa,

Seven years sure goes by fast, probably because you're the fun one as you so hysterically like to tell us. And truth be told, it has been a fun ride with you up to this point. Not only are you funny, but your quick wit and amazing imagination keeps us on our toes. We never know what it is you're going to say. You are a shining star and you let everyone who meets you know it.

The sky is the limit for you my dear sweet daughter. Whatever you do I am sure you will be smiling and making others laugh. Never let anyone take that gift away from you. Just keep on being you, shine bright, and don't ever let anyone stifle your creativity and imagination.

Always know Daddy and I love you forever and always no matter what. We will never stop. Looking forward to what the next seven years and beyond is going to be like with you. Happy seventh birthday my beautiful girl, I hope it has been everything you imagined it could be.

Love always,

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!