Tag Archives: prayer

Gilded Tears

Gilded View

Fall.  Such a beautiful time of year.  I love the crispness in the air.  The breathtaking colors of the leaves.  The warm glow of the autumn sky.  For so long these images of fall took me straight back to high school and memories of shlepping along with the band and football games.

That memory has been replaced.  Now that crisp air and breathtaking colors conjure a much different memory.  One of fear, hope, hospitals and grief.

It was a beautiful November day when I first learned we were going to be blessed with our Fourth child.  Initially we were overwhelmed.    Four children and I hadn’t been in the baby business in 6 years. A surprise blessing you could say. 

Another beautiful November …………..one year later…………..our Beautiful Madeline was here.  Four months and four surgeries.  Finally she was home, we were beyond thrilled.  In the blink of an eye our thrill turned to fear.  With one turn of my back I heard her gasping for air and turned to see her sweet face struggling and blue.  In a blur, 911 was called.  She was rushed to the ER, then promptly to the OR.  Doctors took turns holding the tiniest of tubes to keep her airway from completely closing.  By nothing short of a miracle, a tracheostomy was successfully done, a mere 5 weeks after open heart surgery.  I was numb with fear ……hope and……………unconditional love.

For the remainder of that beautiful fall, I watched the leaves and sky turn golden from the side of a hospital crib.  I could not feel the warmth of the crisp air.  My senses were overwhelmed by the continous beeping of monitors.  My eyes not able to take in the beauty of the foliage for they were fixated on the numbers the monitors were screaming.  Fight songs playing through my head were replaced with pleading prayers for healing

From this hospital room, I  watched the tree grow bare and then droop with snow.  Finally………………. a December morning and with a staff of home nurses Madeline came home……………….we were again, beyond thrilled.  Again, our thrill turned to fear when two weeks later she began vomiting.  A routine follow up became a night in the ICU and more surgery.  Pleading prayers for healing turned to begging God for mercy and strength.

It was Baby Girls First Thanksgiving and Christmas and her stocking was to be hung on her hospital crib decorated with Red Velvet bows.   Madeline rang in the New Year in a Pediatric Rehabilitation Hospital.  Again……… we pleaded God for strength to bring her home.

God heard our prayers…………….our Little Irish Lass amazed us all and finally came home.

Winter turned to Spring and much to our  delight she was with us to done her Easter finery and stare in wonder at the brightly colored easter eggs.  We had gotten over the hump, we just knew it.

Spring to summer…………..many doctors appointment, several near misses………. but she was home.  Baby Girl was a fighter, one tough cookie!  Feisty, you could say.

Imagine our euphoric delight on July 4th.  We had made it!  One Year!!!  Red velvet cupcakes and sparklers all around.  We even got to go to the beach……………Baby Girl got to her dip her toes in the ocean and frolic in the sand.

Roller coaster.  Death defying roller coaster ride………………a concise description of the year of emotions.   But hey, we were taking that last smooth turn for all it was worth.

Summer turned to fall……………..and preparations began for diving into the beautiful fall, renewing our senses with that crisp air and golden sky and rejoicing in our life……………..away from hospitals.  October was pumpkin patches and Halloween costumes.  Our Madeline was a perfectly adorable Bumble Bee.  She stared in amazement at the festive activity and barrage of pictures.  Pinch me………………I was dreaming……………..bring on the Holiday fun.

beautiful November morning, Madeline lets out a scream……………….911 is called……………..here we go again.  Our joy now turns to horror…………….absolute horror.   Pinch me……………………I must be dreaming…………………. a NIGHTMARE!!!  Again………….we pray…………our pleading prayers………….turn to begging……… to hysteria.  Our tears flow and  wrap our body in a pain so raw you can’t believe this is real.  On this November morning, with a  clear blue sky, Our Sweet Madeline took her last breath.  Again I prayed……………….Please God, this can’t be real…………….it was.  It must be a nightmare………………..no……………. it’s your new life.

A week later on a beautiful November morning, with golden leaves and clear blue sky…………….Our Sweet Madeline was laid to rest.  My new fall memory…………………her brothers, wearing blue blazers and white gloves, carrying her tiny casket up to her burial site.  She was laid to rest under a tree, ripe with fall foliage, under a warm autumn sky.

Two years have now passed……………………slow and full of pain.  A golden, warm fall day.  Beautiful and painful.  Trees heavy with golden leaves in a gilded sky.  I  pray for strength………for me……….to find a new way and for healing…………..for our broken hearts.  I still plead and pray……….Dear God, keep my Baby Girl in your care, safe in your heavenly arms…………….until she can be in mine…….on a beautiful November morning, in a warm gilded sky.

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Gate of Faith

Home

There is no good or easy way to tell your child about death, especially the death of their Baby Sister.  Much time is put into teaching them to pray, not preparing for death.  “Pray for our Sweet Madeline and for her Doctors and Nurses to take good care of her, so she can come home soon.”  We recited a version of this simple yet pleading prayer for 16 months.

Left with no words when our prayers were not answered in a way we can possibly ever fully grasp,  we simply said, “God called Madeline home.”  “She is an Angel now with God, her cousins and Grandma and Grandpa’s.”  

As I have not found even this knowledge to be adequately comforting, I often wondered what The Brothers were thinking.  Big Brother is pretty firm in his faith for a little/big guy.  He told me with awe, “Mom, she’s like a Saint now!”  Johnny, so literal, simply said through tears, “she was so beautiful and now she is gone.”

The Little Brother, maybe was the most like me…………… he simply didn’t seem able to take it.  Once all the “doing” was over for her funeral and he was sent back to his “normal” day-to-day routine, you could say the bottom fell out.  He to did not know what to do with this knowledge.  Knowledge that his Baby Sister he and everyone prayed so hard for, was gone……………..she was now in this place called Heaven and it was supposed to bring peace and comfort.  Yet, all around him was great sadness.  His response to his great sadness………………..retreat………..retreat under the desk, in the closet, under the Christmas tree and in the bathroom.  And we didn’t know what he was thinking because he refused to discuss.  However, as they say, actions can speak louder than words so we concluded he was simply as broken and confused as anyone.

Thank to selfless, dedicated teachers going way beyond the scope of their job descriptions, Little Brother began to retreat a little less, and less.  He began to talk just a little but just enough.  One day, his teacher told me to check his folder.  He had written a poem.  I was a little nervous as to what he might write.  I was thinking his favorite (potty humor) or something angry.  I thought…………wrong.  The Little Brother had possibly been sold short.  He hadn’t been shut down as much as possibly he was giving this place Heaven a great deal of thought.  And while under those desks he had been painting this comforting picture………………..

GATE OF FAITH

Just at the gate

Is where you’ll find your fate.

As you see in the bright night

Just coming through

Just follow me and the moon rises

Just come with me

I’ll do as you wish

By the river full of fish

As I lead the way

To the gate of your faith,

Just as we pass trees in peace,

As long as you stay with me

You’ll never be lost,

As the owl flies up in the night sky

You’ll always have your way with me

Just follow me

The gate of your faith

It’s just so hard

To resist the feeling.

(The Little Brother, 2nd grade)

So…………..I wonder, is this what Baby Girl  heard when God Called Her Home?

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A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

First Embrace!

Sweet Baby Girl!  It is redundant but I LOVE THIS PICTURE!  There are days when all I want to do is gaze at photos of Madeline and let my mind go back to the fleeting time we were blessed with her presence.  Brief, yet powerful.  Filled with such emotion.

Today’s quest?  “Tell us about your profile picture.”  My pleasure…………………….

This picture is a definite favorite.   She was 4 months old and this was her third life-saving surgery.

When I look at this photo I don’t immediately call to mind the horrific terror of  that week.  I remember the joy.  You can see it in my face.  This photo is of Madeline and I about 7 days after she received her trach.  She was soooo fragile and her life had been so touch and go that week.  To let her weary little body rest and  protect her airway, she had been in a  heavily sedated state for days.  We had been unable to touch, let alone hold her.  So, imagine my joy when finally we got see her beautiful eyes and touch her petal soft skin.

Sitting here writing this, I can remember.  I closed my eyes and I can recall the touch of her little hands and the feel of her cheeks on my lips.  It was such a joyous moment.  In fact, I was so caught up in it, it was her Respiratory Therapist that grabbed my camera and took the picture.

Such a scary week it had been.  This was the time we thought we might lose her.  But this was our time.  Our time when our prayers were answered.  Confirmation of our hope, faith and a belief that miracles can happen and this cherised photo is my tangible link to that once upon a time when our miracle happened.   

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Space Please

Me and The Big Brother. Note Mommy’s tight grip.

For the last Monday of this month I am participating in Perfect Moment Monday with Lori at Write Mind Open Heart.  This is a time to take a look back at your last month and “reflect” on those moments, big, small, ordinary or EXTRAordinary and on “second-thought” what made that moment “perfect”.

Personally, this, at first, felt much like a “challenge”.  With life circumstances that can seem insurmountable and consume all of my thoughts and energy, it can be difficult to focus on here and now, let alone taking note of the joy therein.

My oldest son (The Big Brother) just turned 13.  As first born,  I used to refer to him as my demo child.  His birth order burden was that I wasn’t sure which “theory” of child rearing I wanted to use, so……….. I tried a little bit of everything.  This was confusing to me and  I can only imagine the havoc it wreaked on my him.

Turns out while I have been “learning” how to be a Mom,   he has been “learning” how to be a kid.   As a result, our “learning curve” has been steep.  You could safely say we have (and had) different expectations.

I remember going to his/my first Mother’s Day “tea” at his  pre-school.  I expected that we would sit together and share a special Mommy and Me moment.  He thought he would sit by his new class buddy and “have fun”.  As a result, I think we both shed some tears.  Why wasn’t he attached to my ankle, “like those other kids?”  He was thinking, “why do I have to sit with HER, can’t I sit with my buddy?”

That same year, while I couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t “just sit and listen” like the other kids at story time, he couldn’t figure out why all those kids WOULD just SIT AND LISTEN.  He is still like that AND I have still wasted a lot of energy trying to change this.  He’s a people person, he has been trying to tell me that for years.  See, I don’t always listen either.  I did not hear what he wasn’t saying.   I don’t always “get it.”

Due to Daddy’s Deployment, he went to “summer pre-school” that year.  The one time in his life he has been able to celebrate his birthday at school.  I remember he was excited.  He wanted me to come in to school.  That made ME excited.  I went to school that day, brought in a birthday treat and “retreated” to the back of the room, to give him his “space.”  See…….he seemed to want me there, but at a distance.  This is still true, and something that it took me a long time to “learn” and I still don’t always “hear” him on this.

The class was sitting in a circle, singing “Happy Birthday”  as I watched I remember he couldn’t contain himself any longer, he jumped up (I refrained from telling him to “sit down””) and ran across the room to me, he didn’t say a word, just gave me the biggest hug, a kiss on the cheek, and ran back to his seat.  That day we both “got it”, we met in the middle.  That is still one of my happiest Mommy memories.

If I had listened closer, I probably would’ve heard him tell me, back off, Mom, I am an independent person.  I don’t need or want to be “like everyone else.”  As long as he knew where I was, he did not need to be by my side.  Actually, he didn’t always need to know where I was either.   Never had separation anxiety.  I used to joke that was because he was “shopping” a new family.

Now that he is a “teenager”,  I don’t know how we got here.  The time seems to have gone at warp speed and will only speed up.  Now, I think I’m the one with separation anxiety.  As he is trying harder for more freedom, I seem to be trying to keep him closer.  We definitely have different expectations on this one.  If he didn’t want to “just sit and listen” then, he definitely doesn’t want to now.

This Sunday, I was sitting in church, frustrated that the boys were HOW OLD? and still couldn’t “just sit and listen”.  I was spending more time staring them down, then praying.  I was especially frustrated with my first born.  Still, all this time, same argument…..sit still, listen. “You know better,” …..same song, last verse, same as the first.   Now, though, after 13 years he has had ABOUT ENOUGH of that lecture and I know it.  I have to!  Sooo, in defeat, I gave up.  I quietly retreated to my “piece” of the pew and wondered how many years I had before my boy would “like” me again.  What happened to my “Little Boy”.  Thinking, “I will never have that time back.”  Was he still “shopping” a new family.

This thought was lingering in my head when to my great surprise, I felt an arm go around me, give me a big squeeze and then he lay his head on my shoulder.  I grabbed his hand and we sat that way for a moment.  I was taken back to that 4th birthday in pre-school and I think this time my boy “got it.”  He heard what I did not say, and he gave me “my moment.”  Maybe, finally, we are both learning to “sit and listen.”

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Irish Eyes Are Smiling

I love EVERY photo I have of our Sweet Baby Girl.  They are now on the top of our most treasured belongings.  Many of them are on display in our home.  A LOT of them, actually, but I can’t bring myself to remove any of her remaining presence from our home.  Somedays and nights, I just stare at Her Beautiful Face, and fill myself with her memory.  This is not hard to do as I am thinking about her on a pretty constant basis.  Trying, trying to find a way to dull the ache.  I guess when I just look at her photos I can be with my Precious Memories of Madeline and that Ohhh TOO short of time she graced our lives with her Sweetness.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling

As a friend said, “She filled your lives with wonder.”  Yes………that is an excellent way to put it.  It fills one withWONDERto go from “Why me? why me?  God, what am I going to do, and feeling sad that your baby is going to have Down Syndrome to, a feeling of ABSOLUTE, UNCONDITIONAL, LOVE AND AWE as to how WE have such a Precious, Precious, Sweet Baby Girl and at time the Awe and Wonder to look into her eyes and the feeling and wonder of, “I think I am staring into the face of God.”  I think she has wisdom of all the Angels and Saints with the gaze in her lovely eyes.

So….I wanted to share the above and following photos of Madeline.  I remember this day as clear a tape playing in my mind.  These photos were taken on a Wednesday, obviously before St. Patrick’s Day.  I know it was a Wednesday because we had no nursing care on this day and it was her and I, left to our own devices.  Wonderful stay at home bonding time, as with her trach, I was not able to drive alone in the car with her.  It was a blessing, actually, to have quiet time at home with her.

Irish Princess

As I was saying……………..On this day, I dressed her in all her St. Patty’s day finery that Grandma O’C sent.  Complete with HUGE bow and all and we had a photo session.  These are only 3 of out 25 pictures I took that day.  She is in all types of all over the place positions.  At this time, due to all of her hospital time, she was still not able to sit on her own, but, of course, that did not deter me.  I held Little Body between my feet, would lean back as far as possible, and start snapping until gravity got the best of her.  One thing I love about this day is she was getting VERY annoyed with me but in True Baby Girl style she SMILED away.

Thank you Sweet Baby Girl for leaving Mommy such a Sweet and Precious Memory for St. Patty’s Day.  You were and are one SASSY LASSY.  Kisses please?

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Sweet 16, Baby Girl

Bathing BeautyToday is March 2, 2012.  I am really struggling to pull through this day.  Our  Sweet Madeline left us on November 2, 2010.  She has been gone 16 months.   Precious Baby Girl was 16 months old when God called her home.  It is crushing my heart to think that she has been gone from our Life as long as she was with us.

There is ABSOLUTELY no sense of fairness or justice when your sweet Baby is snatched from your life,  The hours I have spent agognizing over what I could’ve done to save her.  What if……What if…….plays in my head like a reel to reel film.  That is usually followed by “if only”………….  I know this won’t “help anything” or “bring her back” but I guess it is a coping skill of some sort.  I am a Mommy, wasn’t that my JOB to take care of My Sweet Girl and keep her safe?  Why couldn’t I do it………….. why?

Madeline had a trach.  She got it when she was Four Months Old.  Before we were allowed to bring her home, we were required to do some “medical training” to care for her.  We learned how to change a trach, hook up her oxygen, suction her airway, use an ambu bag and perform CPR on a baby with a trach.  We PASSED with flying colors.  We were deemed “able” to care for her.  Having these skills were  our “ticket” to keeping her with us.  In all the training they tell us how THIS will save your child’s life.  You never let yourself think this TRAINING won’t be enough.  You aren’t told sometimes this IS NOT enough.  Maybe they did tell us……….but I COULDN’T listen.  People would say to us, “Oh, I couldn’t do that.”  To which I would think, “Well, I have no choice, so HELL YEAH, I’m going to “do that”. 

I am left feeling stunned that  no one prepared us that there could come a time………… when all this TRAINING means NOTHING……. and right before your eyes, our Baby Girl will take her last breath, and you will stroke her beautiful, golden hair and kiss her SWEET FACE one last time, and call out her name, Madeline, Madeline, and beg her to come back. Please come back! MADELINE, PLEASE COME BACK.

And after all this training and LOVING CARE I can’t describe the ABSOLUTE soul crushing experience of being pulled from my last minutes with My Precious Madeline to be  “questioned” about her unattended death (meaning, not in a Doctor’s presence).  Moving past this memory might take the rest of my lifetime.  I wanted to throttle that “Detective”.  “Caring” for her was my 24 hour job, and I did it with more love and care than I could ever explain.  But see, Detective, I can’t explain WHAT happened…………..cause I was not prepared for THE DAY when MY BEST, would not be GOOD ENOUGH.   Because within one second of losing her, I knew the pain of her absence was going to be too much to bear.  Looking back on these 16 months without her, I know my first instinct was correct, because it is hard to remember what we did the first 14 years of our Married Life without this PRECIOUS CHILD.  And as the days turn into months, it is hard to fathom how we will continue to endure “Life” without Our Madeline.

There are days you can hardly breathe the pain of the loss is just too great.  March 2, 2012,  has been ONE OF THOSE DAYS.

This morning I went into her room and tried to breathe in her SWEETNESS.  Trying to feel her.  I picked up one of the programs from her Memorial Mass.  Although I will NEVER forget those days…….they play like slideshows in my mind…… I still have to say much of it is a blur.

I opened the program and looked at the First Scripture Reading.  I found words that describe Madelines Sweet 16 months and possibly some meaning:

From the Book of Wisdom

“The just ones, though they die early, shall be at rest.  For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years.  Rather, understanding is the crown for people, and an unsullied life, attainment of old age.  Having become perfect in a short while, they reached the fullness of a long career; for they were pleasing to the Lord, therefore, God sped them out of the midst of wickedness.

See, for 16 months I knew I saw a quiet wisdom in her eyes and was sure I must be looking at the face of God…………….. for she was perfect in our eyes.

You are loved Precious Baby Girl, you are loved and adored, and you were and are……………….GOD’S PERFECT CREATION.

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A Beautiful Life

For whatever reason, my basic personality, I guess, I don’t much get into sharing my political views with others.  But this is something near and dear to my heart and I have to “share.”  Yesterday marked the anniversary of the decision of Roe vs. Wade, which I guess I didn’t always give much thought to.  Although I knew, of course, knew the abortion argument but never saw my role in it.  And really, didn’t give it much thought.

However, one day that all changed.  What did it take???  A simple phone call.  One that rocked my world and forever changed who I am or thought I was.

This phone call was from the Genetics Counselor at the Hospital.  She said, is this Mrs.  O’Connell?  Yes, it is.  Well, she said, we received the results of your Amnio and your Baby has Down Syndrome.  At that moment I remember my blood went cold and my heart dropped to my knees.  I remember looking out the window of my boys room and swear I thought I saw the color of the sky turn a different color of blue.  WHAT???  How could this “happen to me, I thought.”  (this is not a thought I am proud of but it is what I thought).  I was numb.  I immediately thought, Autism and now this, what is God thinking, what am I going to do???!!!!  This all ran through my mind in the span of about 3 seconds, then the “Counselor” spoke again.

The Counselor then said, it is nothing you did Mrs. O’Connell.  Now, do you want to schedule a termination of the pregnancy?  THEN, I lost it.  WHAT, NO!!! HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT TO ME???  Then full blown hysteria set it.  I wanted to throw up, the first and only help offered was to terminate the pregnancy.  I called a Dear Friend who circled the wagons, then I lay on the couch for 24 hours in tears.  My baby… people already think my Sweet Baby is not worth having life.

I then had to call back to make an appointment  with my Doctor.  In a puddle of tears I went to this appointment.  Why?  I said.  And why do they immediately ask you when you want to schedule a termination?  I just want to know how many people terminate?  Well, she said, at this hospital, if we have 6 positives for Down Syndrome, 3 of them are terminated.  More tears again.  I was full of mixed emotions.  I was overwhelmed.  But I kept thinking I am having a baby that 50% of the population don’t think is worthy of life.

Then I didn’t know how to tell people, so for a while I didn’t.  Afraid of what 50% they belonged to.  Some close friends knew and they were supportive giving me names of friends of friends I could call, but I needed to find my own way.  I lurked around on message boards and found something that spoke to me.  A couple that decided to share the news with others and let their anticipation of this new Little Person be known.  Then when the New Little One arrived, there would be no period of time where  friends and family wondering how to react, what to say.  They would know that we were excited and hopelessly in love with our Baby.  I went with this.  It worked for me.  With a close few I shared my fears but also my hopes.

On July 4, 2009, this “theory” didn’t matter anymore to me.  Our Precious Baby Girl, Madeline Elizabeth came into this world, it was no act, WE WERE BEYOND IN LOVE.  She was just BEAUTIFUL and I couldn’t wait to show her off.   Neither could the Big Brothers.  Daddy, took one look and said, Madeline, YOU can have whatever you want, Precious Baby Girl!

We spent the next 16 months in a near constant fight for her Precious Little Life.  It is a fight I would do again without a thought.

Our grief renders us immobile at best and unable to function on the really bad days.  What I wouldn’t give to stroke that golden hair, get a signature Madeline Rasberry Kiss, and do the 50 yard dash across the house because she figured out how to remove her trach.  I think she kept a stop watch to record our time.

I am sooo happy we Chose Life.  The love she brought forth is what life should be about, I would hope.

So…what I thought as I was running this morning.  If having a child with Down Syndrome is such a horrific tragedy, that they should never draw their first breath then WHY am I soooo sad and broken that my Little Madeline is gone.  What a blessing her life was.  As her Big Brother said on meeting her…………..”Mommy, I don’t know why they say something is wrong with her, she looks fine to me……….”

Precious Baby Girl, Madeline

 

 

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Progress?

This is the Last Picture Taken of Madeline.

Our Sweet Little Bumble Bee

A year ago tomorrow, November 2, 2010,  at 9:30 a.m. we lost our Precious Baby Girl, Madeline.  A year has come and gone and that is all.  It has not gotten easier and the pain has not subsided.  We miss her so and long for the snuggle of her little body, the touch of her little hands and the sweet little kisses she would blow.  Grief is a killer roller coaster.  You never know what each hill and turn will do to you.  It comes complete with the feeling of whiplash, a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach and the never ending wish to end this ride from HELL!!!  No matter how much you beg and pray the ride just does not end.  Right when you think you have taken the worst turn you go LOOPTY LOO into a dark tunnel and lose all sense of where you are and which way you are headed.

I receive a great deal of well meaning advice on ways I could “move on.”  But as a wise woman said to me, “Before they dish it out they should walk a mile in your boots, but they should be careful, cause those are some HEAVY boots you are wearing.”  Cement boots, I like to call them.  This is a good metaphor for the weight of the loss you feel when your child is gone.  Like the hardest thing at times is just to lift one foot in front of the other.  And at times this simple act does not seem simple or possible.

Despite the cement boots I suppose we have made “progress“.  You really don’t sweat the small stuff too much.  Petty arguments seem just that………………Petty.   I try to cherish each day with my boys because I fear for the time they are gone and I want to try to cement their Little Boyhood into my memory.  Madeline’s 16 months with us taught me that it all goes too fast and your time together is just never long enough.  I have had people say, “Well, at least you had her for 16 months, at times you didn’t think she would make it that long.”  This statement is of NO help.  I would ask you, if you have children, no matter what their age, to look at them and decide which one you have had enough time with and would hold for the last time tomorrow morning.  I suspect this is something you would not be able to do.  Because this is ALL horribly backwards.

Despite Madeline’s medical needs we were never “prepared” to lose her.  See,there is something we clung to like NO OTHER………….HOPE!!! and FAITH!!!!  We had such hope for our Sweet Baby Girl.  And we never lost faith that she would always be a Fighter and our Hope that she would have a long, very happy life. Our hope now is that her short life was a happy one.  Because the joy and happiness she brought to us cannot be put into words

In the Spring I had the pleasure of visiting with her wonderful surgeon.  He listened to me cry “Why?” and then asked me one simple question………..”Was Madeline a Happy Girl?”  And I could answer…………YES, she was a HAPPY GIRL!  She was LOVE AND JOY personified!!!  She brightened every room she entered and melted the hearts of all who met and cared for her.

I have spent a lot of time today thinking, “Had I just known that a year ago today was her last day on earth, what would I have done.”  I don’t know?  But I think I would have kissed her Sweet Little Face and Snuggled in all of her Joy and not let go…………..Ever!  And that, I think, is the progress I have made.

What a Gift from God you were, Sweet Madeline……………….We Miss You Baby Girl!!!

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Not There Yet.

Yesterday I was flipping through the T.V. and came upon a Jim Carey movie.  Thought I could use a good laugh so I settled in.  It was “Bruce Almighty”.  And it did give me a few good chuckles…………..but in the end it sent me into somewhat of a familiar tailspin.

The premise of the movie seems to be that Bruce is ticked off at God, he thinks he is getting the short end of the stick on the  job, and that he has a “mediocre life.”   If God truly cared and wanted to he could fix all of Bruce’s troubles in five minutes.  God then goes about teaching Bruce it is not that easy and there are things people need to figure out on their own, through their own effort and “don’t forget free-will.”  In the end he learns these lessons and all is B-E-A-utiful (as Bruce says).

I know all this is probably putting a little too much thought into a silly movie but I guess that is where I am.

Now…the part that sent me off.  In the end, Bruce gets hit by a mac truck, dies and goes to heaven, and meets with God.  He then shows God that he can pray, with selflessness, thinking only of anothers happiness and accepting what comes his way, as long as the other person can be happy….and BOOM, the EMT’s get his heart started and he lives, all is well, he prayed and God answered, the way he wanted………. of course.

There are several books around (and I have a few of them) about children and adults alike who have an experience where they die and spend some time in heaven and then “something happens” and they get to come back to life.   That “something”  is that there are many prayers, those prayers are answered, in their favor, and they come back to life.  And this is why, at least right now, I can not read those books.

We did get our prayers our way early on.  When she was 7 days old, she had  to have her first emergency surgery to repair a blockage in her stomach and there was fear of her not pulling through because she was born with a hole in her heart.  I remember sitting, holding her, wrapped in a green hospital sheet, with an IV in her little head tearfully saying, “Please God, I don’t want anything to happen to her.” I knew I loved her unconditionally, but I  go back to this moment and feel it is the exact moment I fell completely, hopelessly,  in love with her.  This was our miracle, she was even a case study, because this type of repair usually needs to happen within 24 hours of life and they don’t know how she made it 7 days.  Our Baby Girl was one tough cookie.

Toucg Little Lady

People are always suggesting these books to me.  I guess I am just not there yet.  “Don’t you feel good knowing that Madeline is an Angel in Heaven, with her Grandpa Ron and her cousins.”  NO! I DO NOT!  Not yet.  Because we are selfish on this one, we want her here with us.  Our arms just ache for that Little Body of Sweet Goodness.  To kiss her little face and get those cute little rasberry kisses in return.

Who me? Taking a nap? Not with someone to play with here.

We want her actual presence in our home and with our family.  We prefer seeing her in her port a crib in the family room and not the Huge Photo of her that is in her place.  Her essence and memory just can’t fill us up.  At least, not yet.  I guess that is where I am to rely on Hope and Faith, much easier said than done.

It seems that it would be much easier to digest books on heaven (and I’m sure I would probably be the one telling everyone to read them) if my prayers on that Tuesday morning in November would have been answered the way I wanted.  And heaven was a place we still just talked about, but without feeling and knowing that my Madeline is there and I can’t get to her.  Because I just want to scream when the Little Boy says he was told he had to come back to this life because God was hearing all those people praying for him.  God had to have heard me?  Right?  I mean I was screaming in the ER for goodness sake.  I was screaming at Madeline to come back!  PLEASE COME BACK!  I was screaming  this over her little body.   But God must have been yelling the same thing in her other little ear.  He wanted his Sweet Angel back as well.

I guess this is where Faith really has to kick in.  Much easier when you have somewhat of a tangible answer as to why your prayers and hopes were anwered the way you wanted or not.  But with this grief there doesn’t seem to be an answer, not yet, and probably never will be.  If it was to strengthen our faith and teach compassion to us as parents and to our boys it seems there could have been a less painful way.  I don’t GET IT!  I’M NOT THERE YET!

I guess this leaves me with Blind Faith.

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See and Be Happy

Our Precious Angel

That Johnny, he is ONE OF A KIND and we are sooooo LUCKY in many ways.  First, because he fills our life with laughter when we need it the most and second if I had more than one of him I would never sober up!

With some seriousness I might share that at school there are different times he has to have help from the Special Education teacher.  This has a certain amount of irony because if you know him you soon learn he is one of the smartest boys you will know, and at times, a pretty deep thinker for a 10 year old boy!

At the end of June we set out on our National Lampoon family roadtrip to Grandma’s house in Chicago.  The trip was complete with Air Conditioning that went out 3 HOURS into a 12 HOUR DRIVE!!  And YES, it was about as much fun as you can imagine.  The air-conditioning was only topped by Little Brother’s broken arm (more on that at a later time).

There was a great deal of excitement about getting to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  The boys love to be with all their cousins and they were going to get to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s new lake house!!  I’m sure Grandma and Grandpa were just as excited to have  11 of their grandchildren plus parents under one roof.  I mean…..who wouldn’t……..right??

At least menu planning was easy….Hotdogs all around….nitrates and animal bi-products……..Who Cares!!!???

There was also a certain amount of sadness to our trip.  July 2 was 8 months without our Precious Baby Girl and on July 4 would have been her 2nd Birthday.  We miss her so and there are absolutely no words to convey the physical pain and emptiness your heart feels with this amount of grief.

Precious Baby Girl was laid to rest in Chicago and we were also there for her Birthday.  Johnny knew this and was concerned if I was going to be too sad.  As I said, he is pretty smart and intuitive.  I was TOO SAD and there was no getting around the fact.  He sensed there would be trips to the cemetery and he was not up for that.

As he wisely says,

“I remember her in my mind, I don’t want to go the cemetery, no thank you!”

He then found me looking at the above picture of our Angel and suggested the following:

Johnny:  Mommy, I don’t think you should go to the cemetery.

Me:  Why not, Johnny?

Johnny:  It will just make you sad and you will cry.

Me:  You don’t like when I cry.

Johnny:  Yeah, I don’t like when you cry.  Instead of going to the cemetery, you should just look at this picture….then, instead of feeling sad you will see her face and feel happy.

Me (already crying):  Yes, Johnny, I know.  And Johnny, you are one smart boy and I LOVE YOU!!!

Johnny:  I know.

Most times I think Johnny has it right.  I think at times, he takes a look around at our crazy family and thinks, “And I’m the One in Special Ed.”

And Johnny you are so right…..How can I look at this Precious Baby Girl and not feel a smile in my heart?

We Love You Baby Girl!!

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