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my dream of a 14 year old girl February 26, 2017

Posted by guinever in grief, loss.

abby-laughing.jpgSometimes, I imagine who you would be if you were still here, if you hadn’t died when you were two, if you’d been with us these past 12 years. You’d be here to blow out your 14 birthday candles and open presents. You were number three of five, with two siblings on each side. Would you get lost in the middle somehow because you’re so sweet, quiet, and contemplative?

You would paint beside Jackson and build villages of Minecraft with him . You’d fight with Mary and dance with her and love her and paint her nails and do her hair, and let her do yours. You’d get mad at her because she’s so messy and I imagine you’d be neat. You’d roll your eyes at Caleb because he does silly things, but you’d do silly things beside him. Caleb’s friends would think you’re pretty, but Caleb would chase them away and say to each one, “Dude, that’s my sister. Stay away from her.”  You would sip coffee with Alex and contemplate the world’s problems and talk politics and history.

Sometimes I remember the day of the accident. It’s rare that I do, and the dark images invade my thoughts when my head is on my pillow and I’m nearly asleep.

the sound of a small thud
a life-stealing noise
your blood flowed unhindered
your heart slowed until it could push no more
i was there when you met Jesus
when your breaths no longer came
you were dead with us
you became alive elsewhere

I bought purple tulips for your birthday. When I put them in the vase, they stood straight and stiff; it was hard to arrange them, but today they droop gracefully.

In daylight, occasionally  I imagine you’re still here, that we never had to bury you and walk away, that there isn’t a grave bearing your name. If you were here, your hair would be the color of the sun and glow beneath the moonlight. You’d love Jesus.

but you’re not here
so i take a deep breath and go forward
and do the stuff i need to do.
and somewhere across the veil
that separates heaven and earth,
you move and breathe and live
and love and sing and dance and worship.
the wind carries your hair far away.
i feel the whisper of a touch on my cheek
and i smile,
knowing you’re living elsewhere


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

Posted by guinever in christianity, death, grief, moving on.
Tags: , , , , , ,

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 🙂



dropping petals in march March 18, 2014

Posted by guinever in grief, healing, life, loss, moving on.
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i walk upon this barren land; it’s cold
the season that has no color
the ground and trees are dark and gray and brown

scattered around me are the stones
etched with names and dates and poems
symbols, the markers of death, of no more life

buried here are the children
who never lived outside the womb
who were born and breathed, but died
and some like mine who lived longer, but not so long at all

this place beckons me every march
nine years ago death came and grabbed her
and took her breath away
it took my breath too, but left me living

buried far away from here and not too long ago
are the bones of her grandmother
she would walk this place with me
with love and tears, but she never will again

and now this march i grieve
for both my mother and my daughter
but I know that they’re together

i bring flowers to this grave
that are dead and nine years old
white roses dried and kept
the same ones that had been draped on a little casket

they’ve been sitting on my dresser
dropping petals into their vase
gathering dust, lots of dust
i’ve held onto them,  cherishing them

but I scatter them now, releasing the dust
these petals, the color of earth
some will blow away
some will cling to ground or stone

the crumpled petals unleash the tears
i try to let go of this burden
will I be lighter?

soon this landscape will come alive with spring,
the colors will chase the brown away
daffodils and forsythia and tulips
cherry trees will drip with pink blossoms

i’ll come back to see the spring
and smell the sweetness
and drive these tears away
and think of those i’ll  see again

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.

come sunday: a book review October 14, 2010

Posted by guinever in book review, death, grief, loss.
Tags: ,
1 comment so far

I buried myself in this novel on a road trip this summer. A heart wrenching story about a child who dies and a mother’s grief and journey to her homeland to find healing, this book isn’t for everyone.   When my husband asked me what the book was about and I told him, he replied, “How can you read that stuff?”

Morley describes grief in such a genuine way that I doubt she is a stranger to loss.  I found Come Sunday well-written and at times, poetic. For example, in the hospital scene after Cleo’s death, Morley pens,

Cleo’s lower lip is crooked, weighted to the right as it always was when she was asleep or when she was scared.  Exactly how it was when she was born.

“Cleo!” I cry, calling into the abyss, calling her back from the void; a loud clear call. “Wake up, Cleo, open your eyes, darling; it’s time to go home.”

But she has gone to the burial grounds of drowned boys and crucified Lords.

A child dies. A mother mourns. What else can I say? That’s my life story.

But that’s where my path diverges with the grieving mother in the book. She lets her grief overshadow the rest of her life for a time. She places blame for her daughter’s death where it doesn’t belong. She shuts out some of her closest friends. She leaves her husband.

The main character remembers a conversation she had with her daughter Cleo about a statue of the virgin Mary:

“What’s her name?” she asked.

“That’s Mary, Jesus’ mommy,” I answered.

“Is she sad?” she wanted to know, glancing up at the Holy Mother with her downcast eyes.

“I’m not sure,” I said after a pause.

But I know now. I know that Mary’s grief is a thousand fathoms deep, where blue is so dense it becomes black. So vast is her sorrow that she cannot speak but only part her robe and reveal the crimson heart that in its stubbornness will not cease its beat.

It’s passages like this that made the book a page turner for me.  I found myself holding my breath, feeling nauseous, laughing, wiping a tear from my cheek, and wanting to get to the last page to see how it ends and then wanting more of the story.  I recommend the book to those who don’t mind being a little sad or mad…

In a conversational video, Morley says about the book, “I want people to feel that redemption always triumphs tragedy and loss and  hope trumps sorrow. I want them to feel assured about holding onto hope, that although life is hard and sometimes there are seemingly insurmountable tragedies that there is a new day, a Sunday coming.”

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