Archive | September 2012

Paying Attention

As I was leaving preschool this morning from dropping the boys off, a woman stopped me and asked, “How’s that baby of yours doing?” Her question about knocked the wind out of me. I did not recognize her and assumed that she was a mom to a preschooler. It took me a few seconds to formulate an answer, but responded by telling her that my baby had passed away during childbirth. I have come to really dislike the word ‘stillborn’ and feel that saying ‘passed away during childbirth’ provides a clearer picture of what really happened, because that really is what happened.

Anyway, instead of turning the other way and running as fast as she could, this woman stood there and took the time to talk to me. She told me she was sorry for what had happened. She asked me if my family attended church and upon hearing that we do, was encouraged that we are receiving support through our church. She gave me a hug. She asked what my baby’s name is and when I told her, Kyleigh, she told me that was one of the girl names she had picked out had she ever had a girl. This woman asked how we were doing and how my boys were dealing with Kyleigh’s death. She asked if we prefer that people talk about Kyleigh or don’t say anything at all.

We talked for probably 10 minutes or so. She was not intrusive, but genuinely cared and showed compassion. At one point, we did introduce ourselves because like I said, I had no idea who this woman was. As we started to go our separate ways, I thanked her for taking the time to talk to me. I told her that she was the first person to ask me about my baby who did not know what had happened and that while it took me off guard, I truly appreciated her asking.

This woman, a mother to three boys, is paying attention to life around her. She’s not caught up in the little stuff that we let get in the way. She didn’t know my name, but she remembered seeing me at preschool the year before. Five months later, she remembered that I had been pregnant. I have often wondered as I walk the aisles of the grocery store or take the boys to check out books at the library if anybody there realizes that I was pregnant. They couldn’t have missed my enormous belly. In fact, I’m sure many of them were fearful that I would go into labor right there in the middle of the food or book aisles. I didn’t run any of my regular errands for almost three months after Kyleigh died. Is that enough time for people to forget? Or are they just afraid to say anything? Or were they even paying attention in the first place?

Do you pay attention to those around you? I don’t. I am clueless when it comes to new hairstyles, if you’ve lost or gained weight or if you got new glasses. I think this is why I was so touched and caught off guard at the same time today.

I cried happy tears as I headed back towards home this morning. One more person has heard Kyleigh’s story and I don’t think this woman will soon forget it.

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The Nudge

One year ago today, we moved 40 miles from our first home north of the city back to our hometown. When Rodger and I met in high school, it was the only high school in town. Now there are three. We got married in the sanctuary at the Methodist church that I grew up in. In two days, it will be five months since we held Kyleigh’s celebration of life in that same sanctuary. Just a short two years ago, we were comfortable where we were living and where we were going to church. We didn’t have plans to change churches and we certainly weren’t planning on moving. Then God called.

We didn’t fully understand it at the time. Out of the blue, we both started feeling the nudge to leave the church that we had been members of for 9 years. Nothing happened to make us mad. We had no clue as to where we wanted to start worshipping. We just knew that God was calling us to step out of our comfort zone and move on. So we did.

A few months later, we felt the nudge again. Only this time, it was to move. Not just move churches, but to move households. Granted, Rodger’s office was talking about changing locations and the two options were further away than where he was already commuting to. But he could have made the drive. He’s done it before. But it was more than that. We both had this overwhelming sense that this was what we were supposed to do. It was hard to explain to most people, except our parents, who were ecstatic at the possibility of their grandchildren living much closer. So we moved. We sold our house in less than three months during a time when houses just weren’t selling. We found a house that fit our family in the neighborhood that we wanted to move to. The owners had already moved, so the house was empty and ready for a new family. We found out we were expecting a baby three days after we sold our house and one day before we bought our new one. We moved four weeks later and it all made sense.

If only we had known how much sense it really did make. Looking back over this last year has put a lot of things into perspective. Every move made sense in our own way. What we didn’t see was God’s plan in all of it, even though every move we made was because of nudges from God himself. It’s hard to explain and even harder to understand. God nudged us to change churches because He knew we wouldn’t even entertain the idea of moving 40 miles away if we were still rooted in our church of over nine years. He nudged us to make that 40 mile move to not only be closer to both our sets of parents, but also to find our way back to the church where I grew up, where we got married. It was a personal challenge for me to start attending this church again, but there’s no doubt in my mind that God placed us there because He knew that’s where we needed to be when Kyleigh was born and died.

On this day, a year after we moved, more memories have been made. My parents are celebrating 40 years of marriage today. Last night, my sister and I surprised them with an anniversary dinner with family and friends. Rodger and I transferred our membership back to the church where we got married in today. The meeting that we attended today for this purpose was moved from a small room in the church to the sanctuary because there were so many people attending the class. When we told the pastor that we couldn’t go in the sanctuary, there were no questions asked. He understood and made alternate arrangements for us so that we could still get the information needed to become a member. You see, we attend worship in another part of the church and have not been back into the sanctuary since Kyleigh’s service. It’s just too much for us right now and he knew that without us even telling him. We ended the evening with an impromptu hot dog roast over the fire pit with some friends who also happen to be neighbors. As the kids were running around in the dark, Oliver abruptly stopped, realizing that his first loose tooth had fallen out. He quickly started crying, not because his tooth fell out, but because he knew that in the dark of the grass, it would be hard to find his tooth. As we looked around, I felt something on the bottom of my foot. I dismissed it, thinking it was a crumb or dirt. Even as I continued to walk around, it didn’t fall off. Then I felt a nudge. Something telling me to pick whatever it was off the bottom of my foot. As I picked my foot up and took it off, I realized that it was Oliver’s tooth. He lost his first tooth.

God nudges us all the time. We often dismiss it and either attribute it to something else or ignore it all together. When we tell others about these nudges from God, we’re labeled as crazy or something alike. People would ask us all the time why we were moving. When our response was, “God told us to,” there weren’t too many follow up questions, just confused looks. Most times, we don’t fully understand what impact these nudges from God have on our lives until later on down the road. It all boils down to this for me: God started nudging us a long time ago to put His plan in action for us to be living in this house, in this town, surrounded by these people in our lives, attending this church, so that we would be in the right place at the right time. I’m so glad we listened to His nudges.

Oliver lost his first tooth!

Freddie the Frog

Rodger was in conversation with one of our pastor’s this week and told him that we are doing whatever we can to find joy in all we do. I think this will bring a little joy to your heart, just as it did to ours …

Oliver got to bring home Freddie the Frog from preschool today for a sleepover. Don’t worry, Freddie is a small, stuffed green frog, not a slimy, jumping green frog. He was so excited to share his afternoon with Freddie! Part of bringing Freddie home includes recording their adventures together. This is what Oliver told me to write in Freddie’s notebook:

We ate a grilled cheese lunch together. And also then we went to Union Station. We saw a Lego model train. Then we saw more model trains, Thomas and Friends model train and James model train. And more model trains, like HO scale trains, Army model train and little steam engines. Also passenger engines and diesel ones. More Thomas and Friends with Annie and Clarabelle. Freddie saw real diesel engines outside on the bridge that goes over train tracks. We saw the circus diesel engine cars with horses and elephants. Horses came off first and elephants were last. Freddie and I saw the elephants and horses walk down the street on their way to the circus. We also saw the Amtrak train at Union Station. We ate a snack on the railroad bridge over train tracks. And we saw a model subway train under the train table with people and doors that didn’t open.

Freddie went to dinner with me and my family to Spin Pizza. He liked the olive pizza and the blueberry ice cream. He liked the water. I showed Freddie my new Santa train puzzle. We rode on the wagon with Garrison. Freddie and I talked a lot today. He likes to say “ribbit!”

Freddie and I had a very busy day. It’s time for his pretend shower. We will have a fun night and do some more in the morning. Freddie will sleep in my bed with me and my bear and monkey. And that’s all that we did.

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The best part about the whole thing is on the way home from dinner, Oliver was telling us about how whenever he sees a frog, it reminds him to Fully Rely On God. And some people think all kids do in preschool is color.

 

Picnics in Heaven

A few weeks ago, we attended the Midwest Transplant Network Donor Family Picnic. It was located just a few miles from our house at a ranch. They had a lot of activities for children (pony rides, bounce houses, hay ride, games, etc.) and provided a BBQ dinner for donor families and volunteers. When we received the information, we were hesitant to attend. After thinking about it for a few weeks, we decided that it would be a good thing to do and a way to get more involved with other donor families. I dressed the boys in their Big Brother t-shirts the day of the picnic and off we went. It was the one and only Saturday where it rained all summer, but the rain stopped just long enough for everyone to enjoy the picnic. Rodger and I bought Donate Life t-shirts and we had four buttons made with Kyleigh’s picture on it.

When we first arrived, we were filled with an unexpected emotion. The button table was the first thing we encountered when we walked in. Handing over Kyleigh’s picture to have buttons made was almost too much. Others families had buttons made as well and some had their own t-shirts made using their loved ones photo and name. As we walked around and enjoyed the activities, I made note of the other buttons and t-shirts. I saw a few pictures of women, but most were men. It was easy to assume who the person was, a grandmother, older brother or father. There was one family who probably had four or more children. They were all wearing t-shirts and buttons with pictures of their dad. He was younger then Rodger when he passed away. As I looked around, I never did see anybody else with a button of a baby or young child. We got a few sympathetic looks from others when they realized that our buttons displayed a picture of a baby, but nobody said anything. We walked away with mixed emotions … happy for having a good time with the boys, but sad for the reason that we were there. Rodger and I both said we would go again, so maybe this was the first of many Family Donor Picnics.

Today, I am wearing my Donate Life t-shirt in honor of Kyleigh’s 5 months in heaven.

As I was cleaning up the dishes from lunch today, Oliver asked me what I thought Kyleigh was doing. It was one of the out of the blue questions that just about knocks the wind out of me. I told him that Kyleigh would have been 5 months old today and that I thought she was celebrating with Jesus. Then he asked what I thought she would do tomorrow. I started to tell him that she would probably be tired from celebrating and would have to rest. Then I stopped myself. There is no rest in heaven! Our bodies are made whole again and we don’t get tired. Oliver and I talked about heaven for a few minutes and concluded that it’s such an awesome place that it’s hard for us to imagine what it will be like. He also decided that Great-Grandma was celebrating with Kyleigh today and that our dog, Boston, was waiting for Kyleigh when she got to heaven. He also said that Boston will be excited when he gets there so they can play fetch.

I often catch myself looking at the world around me and being sad because Kyleigh isn’t here to see it with me. Of course a lot of that is because I miss her terribly, but a lot of that is also because I wanted her to see rainbows, mountains, flowers and butterflies. Then I catch myself and remember that what Kyleigh is seeing in heaven is so much more beautiful than what I am seeing here on Earth. It’s so much greater than what any of us can imagine! And that brings me comfort.

Happy 5 months in heaven Kyleigh! One day we will all have a picnic together in heaven. I love you!