Tag Archive | family

Seven Months

It has been seven months since Kyleigh went to heaven and every day, her brother tells us he misses her.

My fingernails have stopped growing. They are back to their pre-pregnancy-non-growing self, which means that one more part of my body has returned to “normal.” It took seven months for this to happen.

After seven months, it’s still hard to concentrate and remember the details of day to day life. I fail to return phone calls or answer emails in a timely manner. If I don’t write it down, I don’t remember it. Even as I type this, I forget what I was going to say.

It has been seven months and life for most of those around us has gone on. Work, school, daily activities, vacations, holidays, weddings, family photo shoots, births, soccer games, etc. happen around us every day. I know we are not forgotten, but some days it sure feels like it.

I continue to drive the 40 miles one way to get my hair cut. I do this because I know that even after seven months, Lois cares. I can go get my hair cut and spill my guts about whatever is going on and I know that she is listening. I can talk about Kyleigh, my grief, my family, my God and no matter what I say, she has words of wisdom and honors God in all she says.

After seven months, I can walk into the houses of my friends and see pictures of Kyleigh. Some are on refrigerators with magnets, while others are in frames on a dresser. They have not taken them down. They didn’t just put up her picture for a month or two. Her picture is there to stay.

It has been seven months and I still lack the motivation needed to lose the extra weight. Exercising just sounds dreadful and while I am attempting to eat healthier, the Halloween candy is not helping my cause.

Today I met one of my nurses for coffee. After seven months, I am able to enjoy conversation with others and even laugh a little. It is good to share the details of life with someone who was there with me during the hardest time of my life.

After seven months, there is still sadness in our home. Sure, we have lots of fun with lots of laughter. How can we not with two little boys? We enjoyed our family outings this fall … the zoo, pumpkin patch, trick-or-treating … but we are still very aware that someone is missing from our family picture.

After seven months, I still miss my baby girl. I love her just as much as I love her brothers. She will always be a part of who I am.

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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!

Where Do I Belong?

As I look to those who I know, or know of, who have lost children, I see a wide spectrum regarding what they have done publically to remember their child. Some have started foundations, either to bring awareness to the cause of their child’s death, or to carry on a dream their child had, but never got to fulfill. A family from our former church lost a six month old son to the flu, just days before Christmas. They started Ian’s Rainbow Flu Foundation in his memory. Every year they hold a walk to raise money to fight the flu and bring awareness to others about the flu. We participated one year. A family at our current church lost their daughter due to a stray bullet on the 4th of July last year. Someone thought it would be a good idea to shoot their gun in the air to celebrate. What they didn’t think about was where that bullet would land. Blair’s Foster Socks was started in memory of Blair and in honor of her dream to provide foster children with socks. Others that I know have adopted a highway in memory of their child and take the time to keep our roads free of trash. Some participate in walks for organizations, such as the March of Dimes.

Then there are those that do not do anything publically. They haven’t started a foundation or put their child’s name on a plaque. They haven’t raised money or shared their story through a blog. They haven’t added their story of loss to baby loss websites or those sites dedicated to bereaved parents. They continue to remember their child privately within their immediate circle of family and friends.

No matter where those who have lost a child fall on the spectrum, neither is right or wrong. Each family, each person, has done what is best for themselves. What I am trying to figure out is, “Where do I belong on the spectrum?” I have been struggling with this lately, as I have idea after idea of what we can do to honor Kyleigh, to remember her.

I met with a friend a few weeks ago and was talking with her about this exact thing. I told her I feel like I’m at this in between point where the intense sadness and grief has diminished, but I don’t know what to expect next. I have the desire to do something about all of this, but not the energy. When I look at others who have lost someone close, whether it’s a child, parent or sibling, there is usually a clear action to be taken. Those who lose someone to cancer can donate money to the American Cancer Society or run in a Race for the Cure. There are organizations that educate expectant parents about SIDS. There are walks/runs for almost anything you can think of: ovarian cancer, fighting the flu, premature babies, AIDS. And I think this is where I find my struggle. There is nothing established for babies who die during childbirth for no known reason.

As I talked with my friend about this struggle to figure out what to do and where we fit into all of this, she asked me what my goal was. What did I want to come out of any action that I might take? My answer is clear and simple and hasn’t changed from the start … I want people to remember Kyleigh. I don’t want them to forget. She set a clear boundary for my thoughts, and that is, that my job is to make sure my boys do not forget their sister. Rodger and I have a responsibility to keep Kyleigh a part of our immediate family through our words and actions. She told me to start small with them and see where that takes us. I don’t have to put on a big show or raise thousands of dollars. I need to focus on what is right for our family and once we set our routines and traditions to keep Kyleigh’s memory alive within us, the rest will fall into place. She also reminded me that I cannot control what others do and I cannot make other people remember Kyleigh. What I can do is talk about her, give gentle reminders around anniversaries and holidays. Some will respond with kind words of remembrance and some will not.

Since then, we have started doing a few personal things at home to include Kyleigh in our daily lives. The boys know that it’s okay to talk about her and ask questions. We encourage them to do so. I have also taken the time to reflect upon the things that I know others are doing on a regular basis to remember Kyleigh:

-Two friends are making a monthly donation in her name to K-LOVE, a Christian radio station.

-A friend keeps our family picture, as well as Kyleigh’s picture, in her bedroom and prays for us each morning.

-A girl with the birthdate of April 5, is being sponsored by a friend through World Vision.

-Talking about Kyleigh and praying for our family every night from a friend with three young children.

These are just a few of the things that people are doing for us and for Kyleigh. I know there are more out there, some that we know about and some that we do not.

I still have ideas for what I would like to do long term. We have a memorial set up through the Liberty Hospital Foundation in Kyleigh’s name, called Kyleigh’s Gift. At some point, we will get to meet with the head of the LHF and help decide where that money goes. We would love for it to be an ongoing memorial, as we plan to donate money every year in her memory. I hope to share with you soon about what we plan to do through Kyleigh’s Gift, along with other ideas that we have to keep her memory alive.

Kyleigh’s story is just that, Kyleigh’s story, nobody else’s. I’m not going to find somebody with the same story. All I can do is figure out where I fall on the spectrum and do what I need to do for myself and my family to keep Kyleigh alive in our hearts. I hope you join me in this journey to find a way to keep Kyleigh alive in your heart.

 

*My disclaimer: The links provided in this post are just that, links. Click them if you want more information. Leave them alone if you do not want more information. Some are clearly used for examples only, while others are very close to my heart.

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