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after loss: why my daughter’s birthday is the hardest day February 26, 2016

Posted by guinever in christianity, death, grief, moving on.
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I’ve been mulling this post over since summer, waiting to write it on the occasion of my daughter Abby’s 13th birthday.

This post is my answer to the question that has been voiced more than once:

It’s been 10 years; when are you going to get over it?

The 10 years is in reference to the 10th anniversary of my daughter’s death which occurred last March.

To put it simply, I will never get over it. I will never forget my daughter. Not her birth. Not her death. Not her life. Her birthday is the hardest for me, even harder than her death day, her heaven day, the day that she stopped dancing with me and started dancing with the angels. For those of you new to my story, she died suddenly. No warning. An accident.

Abby grew in me. Thrived in me. Moved in me: just like her siblings Alex, Caleb, Mary, and Jackson lived in me.

On the eve of all my children’s birthdays each year, I remember these things and I bake a cake. Judging from facebook and talk at baby showers, I am not the only woman who does this. It seems that every woman whether the baby is still in her arms or in high school or her baby is a 50 year old neurosurgeon, the mother remembers how hard the labor was, or how short, or how horrendous, or how he came out butt first, or how the labor went on for 48 hours or how it was so fast,they barely made it to the hospital or the midwife almost didn’t make it in time to the house. Oh happiest of days is the day that a new baby is born into a family! Every single year, we women, remember those moments of labor and birth on our children’s birthdays.

Abby dying doesn’t erase the memories of her pregnancy, labor and birth, and 2 short years.

Just because Abby is dead, doesn’t mean that my mind stops going to my last hours of pregnancy, when I labored to bring her into the world so I could finally hold her in my arms.

I do this with all my kids. But with my other children, there is joyous celebration, and an anticipation that comes with a present or two, and a special birthday lunch followed by a birthday box or envelope from Grandma and Grandpa VC. Alex, Caleb, Mary and Jackson are right there in front of me and can smile at their cake and blow out their candles as I take photos. I can think about how small they once were, and revel in how much they’ve grown. My 8 pound babies are now tall, one is over 6 feet tall.

But with Abb12742685_10153930579642801_6103281711424171089_ny? She is not in front of me laughing at her cake and presents. There is nothing. Only 2 years of memories. Only flowers to take to a cemetery. And sometimes it just gets to me. The absence of her overwhelms me and I weep. I cry hard. I need a hug and a little understanding.  Is that bad? Is that wrong? To borrow a friend’s line, I just want to be extended the “grace to grieve.”

Remember my first sentence? My daughter Abby’s 13 birthday? Oh. My. Word. 13 years old she would be.  13 years old she is in heaven at the feet of Jesus.

Happy birthday baby girl. I know that I’ll see you again someday.

These are the flowers your sister picked out for you 🙂




happy birthday, beautiful February 26, 2011

Posted by guinever in christianity, death, grief, heaven, life, loss, moving on.

A lot of my friends have been asking me how I’m doing…I haven’t been writing except little snippets on facebook. Blogging is virtually non-existent and has been replaced with one liners.

I’m good. Most of the time, I’m great. I really am. God has blessed me and given me peace and joy. I am living my life and enjoying it. Tonight I’m thinking back eight years ago waking up in labor with a certain baby girl.

I want to go kiss that baby girl right now.

But she’s getting all her kisses in heaven from her great grandparents right now. And from the angels.  And from all the other little girls who have slipped from their parents’ arms into Jesus’ arms.

About a month ago on facebook, a friend asked for inexpensive ideas for her daughter’s 8th birthday party. We had been pregnant together. A few minutes later, another friend posted pictures of her daughter’s 8th birthday cake.  Another blonde girl. BAM BAM. I hadn’t really had any moments of grief for a long time.  Tears. But that’s not all. Then another friend whose baby was stillborn just a short month before Abby’s life ended was writing about her grief too. More tears.

I want MY birthday girl where I can see her and touch her and watch her eat cake.

Today is Abby’s 8th birthday. Where has the time gone? We only had 2 birthdays with her. Then she was gone. Now she has been gone nearly six years.

As I was thinking of my labor, I decided to look through her photo album. When I got it out of the cabinet, my tears fell. Then I opened it.  On the first page is her name:

“father rejoices”

“the bright one, the shining one.”

Then on the next page is this picture.

Do you see her praying hands? I remember her folding her hands quite a bit her first few days.

So sweet!

It’s almost as if she was born to worship, born for heaven right out of the womb. With this thought and looking at this picture and the others on the page, Forget a couple quiet tears, my body was racked with sobbing.

I miss my Abby girl!

It’s been a long time since I’ve cried like that, and I want people to know! This has been the EASIEST February ever. I can’t even believe it. My growth is phenomenal since last year and the previous ones. Part of the reason is I haven’t had time to have a personal pity party because my heart has been heavy, so heavy for others in recent weeks. I was reminded of something I wrote a month after Abby died:

A month. 4 weeks ago tomorrow, our journey of death began. When we were driving home yesterday, Todd asked me if I was doing a lot of crying that he didn’t know about, and I told him not really. I asked him if he cried when Rachel died. The answer was no. I asked him if he cried when Petros died. No. I asked him if he cried when Corrie died. No. And I asked him if he cried when baby Anna was stillborn. No. And I asked him if he’s been broken and weeping and praying for Beth’s recovery. No.

I have spent 9 months, many nights sleepless, just crying and praying for other people. Now, there’s a million people crying and weeping for ME and God is answering their prayers and God has brought me peace and grace.

I don’t think I’m holding it in (so to speak). I asked Todd if he remembered that Thursday morning. How could he forget? I screamed at the top of my lungs and relived every detail of those almost 2 hours of agony where Abby was hurt and dying. I scared him, he said. He kept telling me to relax. He said he reverted into his Bradley mode because it reminded him of labor (before I wrote about it in that way in the funeral memoir) My release was in every way physical, emotional and spiritual. And now I have peace. And my tears are much less than his.

Happy birthday, beautiful. My pretty dancing, singing girl in heaven. I miss you.

I never got past those first 2 pages of the photo album. I’m saving those for the morning when I go to the cemetery with whoever wants to go with me. Not sure which of the kids, if any will want to come. I have some tulips from church that I’ve been enjoying all week that I’ll toss on Abby’s grave.

Grandpa, a man of many hats July 23, 2009

Posted by guinever in christianity, death, everyday life, heaven.

I’m cleaning today, digging through a drawer that is stacked with papers and photos. I found a piece of notebook paper folded in sixths. On it was the memoir that I wrote for my Grandpa Herrick’s funeral, who died February 3, 1996.

When I think of Grandpa, I see a man with many hats. I think a lot of us here gave him at least one over the years. I see a man with many plaid shirts, suspenders, belt buckles and tools.

When I think of Grandpa, I see a man in a chair. Reading, doing crossword puzzles, winning at Scrabble, and snoring.

I remember one time he accused us grandkids of eating the toilet paper because it seemed to disappear whenever we visited.

When I think of Grandpa, I see a man who was always building and making things for the people he loved. He and my dad built the house on Beecher road. He built the cabin in the woods. The bunk beds. A see-saw and swing for us grandkids. A fort in a tree so he could hunt for deer. When he wasn’t falling off ladders, he was climbing them, to  erect a bigger than life satellite dish on the roof.

I’ll always remember the love and care he showed Grandma. The last thing he made …only minutes before he collapsed, was a sandwich for her.

For me, the most special thing he built is the simple wooden chest that still sits in the corner of my room. What once was filled with toys is now filled with linens and blankets. Even after 20 years, my name that he carved in the bottom of the toy box has not faded. Neither will these memories. The assurance that Grandpa is in Heaven makes the pain a little less and the memories even greater.

Grandma and Grandpa H

Isn’t it lovely that I have this old photo to go along with this memoir? Based on how old my brother and I look, I’m guessing this was taken around 1977.

losing a child; four years later April 7, 2009

Posted by guinever in christianity, death, grief, healing.

It’s Tuesday of Holy week. Four years ago, Abby died the Tuesday between Palm Sunday and Easter.

Quite frankly, today has been like any other normal day… cooking breakfast, checking math pages, watching a Moody Science film, making lunch (today it was baked chicken drumsticks, beans and homemade bread with cookies for dessert,) walking through a 5 paragraph essay with my 4th grader, letting the kids have cheerios for dinner so I don’t have to make something, answering e-mails, doing stickers with the toddler,  listening to Latin prayers,  shuffling the little ones off to bed. Discovering another grieving blog. I could go on and on.

That’s today. But the last couple months, there have been more tears than normal. This is because February started my “season of grief.” Overall, I’m doing ok. The tears may come but they haven’t translated into lengthy bouts of depression or walking around feeling numb, having to put one foot in front of the other, forcing myself to get out of bed in the morning.  Life is better and easier than that.

So all this to say, time has lessened the pain…a little. It’s not gone, will never be, but I’m healthier.  I’m walking in God’s love, sustained by His grace.

hosanna in the highest March 22, 2008

Posted by guinever in christianity, healing, life, loss.

March 22. The anniversary of my daughter’s death. Has it really been 3 years since my daughter died? Three years ago, the day before Easter, I was sitting in the front row at a funeral, the funeral of my daughter. Now three years later, it seems like a distant nightmare. I go to the cemetery and think, have I really buried a child? Is she really gone? Was she ever here? The answers to those questions are yes.

This year, I am thankful that the 22nd of March also falls during Easter week. This year I won’t have to grieve twice and for that I am glad. When Abby died it was the Tuesday before Easter so her death is so tied up with holy week that no matter when March 22nd is in relation to Easter, the Tuesday after Palm Sunday will always seem like her heaven date.

I remember Abby singing “holy holy holy Lord.” That was the only line of the song she knew so she kept repeating it until we got to the hosanna part–then she would keep singing hosanna. I’m glad we sing it every week at church. To me, it was Abby’s song, is still Abby’s song. She is still singing holy holy holy Lord every single day, I’m sure.

holy holy holy Lord
God of power and might
heaven and earth are full of your glory
hosanna in the highest
hosanna in the highest
blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord
hosanna in the highest
hosanna in the highest

This year the anniversary of her death is sandwiched between Good Friday and Easter.

He is risen.
He is risen indeed.

So thankful that I serve a risen Saviour.
So thankful that my sweet baby girl is with Him.
So thankful that I will spend eternity in heaven.

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