Monday, May 21, 2012

poetic advice

A stumbled upon this poem by Canon Henry Scott-Holland, and found it very helpful:
Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other
That we are still
Call me by my old familiar name
Speak to me in the easy way you always used
Put no difference into your tone
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed
At the little jokes we always enjoyed together
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
Without the ghost of a shadow in it
Life means all that it ever meant
It is the same as it ever was
There is absolute unbroken continuity
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind
Because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner
All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost
One brief moment and all will be as it was before 
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

Canon Henry Scott-Holland
Canon of St Paul's Cathedral

Thursday, May 17, 2012

my little waterbug

I just accepted a new position recently, and I've been wrapping things up at work.  I feel like this is a good time for a change of scenery, and, unexpectedly, I received the biggest confirmation of that need just two days ago. 

I arrived at my 'old' job around 12pm on Tuesday.  I walked into the back kitchen area for a moment, and as I did, I gazed, as I often do, out the back window.

However, this time I realized something.  I noticed a man cutting the lawn of the park adjacent to my current place of business, and it hit me.  It's definitely spring (though some days really seem like summer).

To better understand this, you'll need a little background.

My daughter would go to that park everyday, in the nice weather, last year.  I got to watch as she went from an observer of to a participator in play.  I would look everyday for her little hat to be wandering around in the park, and my heart would swell when I'd locate her.  Sometimes she'd be on the massive jungle gym, sometimes she'd be along the length of the fence watch the 'big' kids having swimming lessons, sometimes she'd be running around in the giant yard of the park, sometimes she would swing, etc...

Now, within the parameters of the park is the community pool, and Catelyn loved the pool so much!  In some ways, I actually think she loved it more than she loved my husband or myself.  I only say that because whenever either of us would go to pick her up, she'd start to run towards us in excitement, but would quickly realize that we were there to take her home, and she'd try to run away.

There were even days when the weather wasn't nice out, and we'd go to her daycare to find her wandering around with her beach towel in her hand, trying to remind her daycare mom that it was, in fact, time to go swimming.

She was definitely a water bug.  :)

So, as I stared out the back window of the kitchen, I realized how my heart would not only ache, but also break, each time I walked to the back of the office and caught a glimpse of children running, jumping, sliding, swinging, and swimming this summer.

I'm certainly not trying to run away from the pain, but it was very relieving to know that I wouldn't have to endure that same view this year.

It's certainly hard missing Catelyn.

Monday, May 14, 2012


I get tired.

I get tired of the media.

I get tired of hearing about the e. coli 'outbreak' that occurred in our area in 2011.

I get tired of hearing about the number of cases that broke out and the one life taken.

I don't like listening to, watching, or reading current news because it occasionally will reference that dreadful time.  

If you were to do a google search of the county and state that I live in with the word 'e coli', you would find over 53,000 articles related to my daughter's death.  No, the articles don't usually state her name, but that doesn't make it any easier, either.

When Catelyn died, it was very upsetting to discover that the media tried calling everyone we know:  caretakers, co-workers, friends, family, and even the funeral home.  They tried calling us personally, and they even tried camping out on the lawn of our church on the day of Catelyn's funeral because they wanted to get 'the story'

Yes, the public certainly has a right to know what is going on for the safety of their families, but grieving people should not have to go through this.  It's very hard to live those moments in general, but to live them publicly is horrifying.

What is bringing this up, you may be wondering?

There was an article written in a local paper on the exact 8 month 'anniversary' of Catelyn's death.

Now, please understand that the article was written to inform people about the attempt to try to discover e. coli in foods sooner, but once again it couldn't help but mention last year's events.

The article even noted that no source of the illness was ever discovered.  Aside from the fact that several households in the same county were affected, no link could be found.

Yes, I think it's great that there is work being done to try to solve this issue because I wish this type of scenario on no other person.

But, at the same time, I'm not over the anger that this all produced 8 months ago, and I can't help but feel it come flooding back - even from a positive writing that may offer hope for other families.

I can see that these writings and publications about e. coli are all for good, but all I feel is pain.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

Today is mother's day....I didn't know what today would be like for me, but I have a better idea now. 

Today is....

I went out of town over the weekend, and I saw my parents, who are celebrating 40 years of marriage today.  It was good to see them.  As I left, I wished my mom a happy mother's day.  She thoughtfully wished me the same and kissed me on the cheek.  A few of my friends and family members sent me cards, gifts, flowers, messages (voice and electronic).... 

I am appreciative of all of the love and support, but today it almost makes my heart ache more, and not less.

You see, everyone is trying so hard to remind me that I'm still a mom - even if Catelyn is an angel baby, but I'm having trouble with that.

I don't have a child here to wish me happy mother's day - not that she'd know what that means yet, anyway, at 2 years and 4.5 months old.  She can't smile for me, sing me a song, hug me, blow kisses, get a little feisty, laugh, etc. 

Sure, I believe that there are ways for her to let me know that she is here, but it's just not the same.  It hurts.  I cringe every time someone wishes me a happy mother's day.  I don't feel like a mother.  I feel like a failure.....a miserable failure.

Instead of having a wonderful toddler here to be herself (joyful, silly, sweet, kind, etc) and try to understand the point of 'mother's day', I only have my memories. 

Honestly, I don't even remember what we did last year for Mother's day....or even the year before that.

Some mother I've turned out to be....

Anyway, this isn't really meant to be a post that brings you down, it's purpose is to give understanding of where I find myself on this day when we are meant to honor the women that have raised us.

For those of you mother's out there, happy mother's day. 

For those of you who find yourself in a similar place to myself on this Mother's Day, please know that you don't have to be completely miserable today...  It's certainly okay to feel what you feel, but please don't feel like you have to stay hidden away from other people.  Don't be ashamed of who you are and how your life feels like it's turning out.  Tell the people closest to you how you are feeling.  Mostly, try to find even the smallest joy today and keep it close. 

Even the smallest joy counts for something.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother's day, or something like it.

In three days, a good chunk of  the population will celebrate 'Mother's day'.  I haven't decided what this means for me yet.....

Last year, I worked on chalk art with Catelyn....basically, she scribbled with chalk on a piece of dark colored paper (pictured), and I then cut up that piece of paper into 4 smaller rectangles, did some basic paper crafting, and then sent cards out to both of Catelyn's grandma's and a couple of other women. I did something similar for Father's Day, too, except  my husband was also a recipient of that card.  Actually, my husband provided me with one of Catelyn's drawings last year for mother's day.

A couple of days ago, my husband and I stopped by a local florist/garden center in the town we live in.  As we parked our car he said, 'Part of the reason we are here is so that you can pick out your mother's day gift.'  I didn't even know what to say.  I felt this huge wave of sadness, and so much love.  We walked all around the garden center looking at the many potted plants waiting for new homes.  Finally I picked out an orange-ish/pink coneflower.  It walked away and back and away and back, and finally just had to have it.  As I think about it now, it actually reminds me of an outfit I liked to dress Catelyn in.... 

My husband asked if that was the only thing I wanted and I shrugged and mentioned that I didn't know.   He said I could get more plants if I wanted, and right then, I noticed a plant I hadn't seen before.  It was labeled 'Fragrant Angel Coneflower'.  It had the most darling looking white flowers and apparently it smells sweet too.  It was perfect; I had to have it for the garden.  We picked up a couple of various items for our hanging baskets, and then we paid and headed out.

We haven't placed the plants in the garden just yet, but we will soon.

I still don't know how I feel about Mother's Day yet.  I'm not excited about it, but I'm not fully dreading it either.  I guess I won't know how I really feel until after it comes and goes....

Monday, May 7, 2012

All because of snow globes

Yesterday was a pretty good day.  I was actually behind, on what felt like millions of things, so I was running errands in the morning, trying to catch back up.  I was in a store, close to completing my shopping for the day.  As a matter of fact, I had nothing left on my list, and I was heading for the checkout lines.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an end cap filled with snow globes, which I LOVE, and so I decided to make a quick detour. 

Suddenly, I realized someone was talking to me.  When I looked up, it was one of my cousins (okay, so she's actually my husband's cousin....okay, 2nd cousin....).

I was so pleased to see her.  We had ran into each other a few times before that, but we never really had a chance to talk, and while I was busy (and so was she), we ended up engaged in a conversation that was close to an hour long.  It was wonderful.  We had an open dialogue about how things were/are going for me, and, though people were wandering around the aisles surrounding us, it was such a comfortable time.

She mentioned that she wasn't sure what to say to me, and I told her that most of the time I don't even know.  I don't know what to say to others who have lost children or go through any kind of tragedy.  I wish I had something profound to tell them....some morsel of hope to give them....but, at the end of the day, I'm just like everyone else and I don't know what to say....

So I told her that the most important thing for me is to be able to talk about Catelyn.  I want to remember her.  I want to share the stories that I have, and I want to hear the stories and perspectives of others.  I want to see her pictures and hear her voice (though that's usually just reserved for videos).  I will never forget that she died, but I definitely want to remember that she lived.

We both mentioned that we were glad to have run into each other, and that we both felt it was meant to be....then we parted ways.  Well, we must've been through the checkout lines at about the same time, because the next thing I knew, we were both heading to our cars....which were parked just one spot away from each other. 

It wasn't until later that I remembered that I really hadn't even intended to go down that aisle in the first place, but I was distracted by my love of snow globes.

Yes, I do believe that our brief reunion was meant to be.

Thoughts on God...

I'm a spiritual person....I'm not overly religious.  I don't attend church every Sunday......I've maybe attended 5 services in the 8 months that have passed since Catelyn died.  I do believe in God.  I do believe that God is good. 

For most of my life, I was a firm believer that "God only gives you what you can handle".  It wasn't until recently that I saw the flaw in my reasoning. 

Can you imagine how miserable it would be if God 'gave' us pain, heartbreak, upset and more?  No wonder people might turn their back on God.  Why would you want to believe in something or someone who caused you tremendous pain because 'you can handle it'? 

I read a book called 'The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity' by William P. Young, recently, and I really found it inspiring and touching.  It was such an interesting read.  It truly gave me a new perspective about things that I already believed, and things I never imagined.

Well meaning friends and family have offered me the book 'Heaven is For Real', and while it's a good book, I could never bring myself past the fact that the little boy lived and my Catelyn died. 

In 'The Shack', though, the main character processes the, likely, brutal murder of his youngest child.  Along the way, he ends up meeting God in person....

I'll let you read the book for yourself, but it helped me realize something so important.  God doesn't give us what we can handle....God helps us handle what we're given.

Think about that for a second.

If God were to give us what we can handle, then we might feel either like God really trusts us to handle a lot (which can be very overwhelming), or we might even feel like God is vindictive and gives us obstacles because we deserve them for all of the wrongs we've done in our lives.  I've felt both ways....too many times to count.

Now, think about the other half....if God helps us handle what we're given, then it isn't that God is punishing us for our wrongs, and it isn't that God thinks that we are these ultra strong beings that can withstand the highest thresholds of pain possible.  Instead, God knows that we are going to be dealt crummy hands of cards in life, and instead of saying 'oh well, you can handle it, you can get through it, deal with it yourself', God says: 'I'm here.  Let me help you.  Turn to me.  Trust me.  Love me.  Believe in me.  Put your faith in me, and I will ease your pain, your burden, your problems.'

Spiritual or not, how freaking cool is that?

What a HUGE difference that change in perspective makes.  It makes dealing with Catelyn's death so much more bearable. 

The trick, of course, is learning to rely on God.  It's certainly not easy.  It's hard to believe in something you can't see directly.  It's hard to give up control over your own life (and I'm a huge control freak, so I think I know that pretty well).  It's hard to say 'I trust you'.  It's hard.

But, on the flip side, it is easier knowing that this wasn't something that was predetermined to happen in my life....that it wasn't some evil master plan to make me suffer, and that it didn't happen because I deserved it.  Yes, it happened.  Yes, it sucks.  Yes, it's hard to move on.  No, I'll never forget.

At the end of every day, I have continued support.  Sometimes it comes in the form of the people around me.  Sometimes it comes from songs, memories or books.  No matter where it comes from, I believe that it's God reminding me that I'm not alone....that my pain isn't my own to handle....that God won't leave my side.

Take from this message what you wish.  Disagree....  Agree.... It's up to you.    But at least you know how I feel.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I promised my dad that I would go to Catelyn's burial site and take pictures of her new headstone.  It went up last week, but I finally got around to it today.  Previously she had a different one, but it was not what we had ordered, so it's fixed now. 

There is just a heart above her name, and blank spaces to the left and right where her dad's name and mine will be someday.

Our cat

When Catelyn was born, our cat, Uri (ur-ee), wasn't sure that we made a good choice.  As a matter of fact, he would lower his ears and try to cover his head when she cried.  Or, he would just run off.

As she grew, he became more and more interested in her....until she began crawling.  Then he felt it was his objective to get away - and FAST!  By the time she could walk, he still tried to get away from her by any means possible....

But then, one day, he began greeting her the second we'd get in the house.

We'd walk in the door, and he'd come running up and rub up against her, and she'd lay a hard pat into his back (at which point I'd remind her to be gentle or nice), and then she'd do it again, this time saying 'Niiiiice' as she pushed her hand down the length of his back. 

He didn't even care.  He loved her.

During our hospital stay with Catelyn, we asked my husband's parents to pick up the cat and take him to their home so that he wouldn't feel too lonely.

To protect Catelyn, we had baby gates up at the top and bottom of our stairwell.  The cat could maneuver around them pretty easily, but he was certainly aware of their presence. 

When he was brought back to our home, following Catelyn's death, we had already taken down the gates.  You could clearly see him trying to figure things out when he started to run up the stairs and realized that there was nothing blocking his way.  He ran up and down a couple of times.  We figured he was trying to find his sweet friend.

The final time, he ran up a couple of steps, turned and looked at us, and then slowly came back down.  It was heart-wrenching.

I know he still misses her.

Today, I went into Catelyn's room for a brief moment as I looked for something I had misplaced months ago.  Uri came in right behind me.  When I left the room, he wouldn't leave.  He sat by her crib side, looking around.

He stayed in there for about 20 minutes.  When he finally left her room, he came and laid on me. 

His poor little kitty heart is still broken, too.