A Decade Together

I do find a lot of things are different now after Everlee, I’m growing more accepting of this shift and change in life everyday. I’m very reflective each new years now. I pause to remember what each year brought. The good and bad. And really intentionally set foot in a new year, and a new decade now in this case. Making sure my next step forward brings better tomorrows always.
 
As we rung in the new years this year, kids sleeping, comfy clothes on, sitting on the floor together playing cards, Jer and I noted how different this year looked then our first new years together which was 2009 leading into 2010. We had dressed up, attended a swanky party in Minneapolis together, determined to make it the best new years yet. I remember the magic of that night. Swaying together on the dance floor at midnight, surrounded by loud energetic strangers, kissing Jeremy at midnight under a sea of confetti. Whispering happy new year to my favorite person in the room. We still do that. Savor the moment of time changing together. Whisper each other happy new year. Instead this year, ten years later, as a married couple, no energetic strangers, rather just him and I. Quiet house. No fancy clothes or confetti, but regardless it’s the company you keep that brings the magic to ordinary and special moments. 
We’ve been talking a lot about what this past decade has brought us. I had so many hopes wrapped in his arms that new years, the possibilities of dreams with this person finally knowing you found your person in this world. My heart told me I was safe with him, My soul told me he was my missing piece in life. My eyes blocked out the rest and I knew he really was it. 

 

We got engaged that summer, out in the wilderness, not another soul in sight. Walleye fishing on a rock in the middle of a lake. I nearly clocked him when he bent down on one knee because he tried to take my fishing pole from me. Until it clicked what was going on. That IS a rare time in our life he’s caught me by surprise. Im glad he did, and where he chose. It was perfect for us. 
April 16, 2011. Thats when we said I do. We got married in Vegas. Mostly because we both wanted an epic bachelorette and bachelor parties and that we both achieved! But we’ve always been more intimate setting type of people, so the gorgeous little garden chapel at Cesars palace was a perfect fit for an intimate affair with 35 family and friends. We got married outside in the heat, no need for a jacket. A perfect spring day any minnesotan would kill to have in april.
Blending families into one household that first year of marriage was rough. WE HAD A ROUGH PACTCH. And you know what looking back I would never take that difficult first year of marriage back. We learned so much as a couple, how to work through difficult seasons together, yet still growing your love for one another. Letting life evolve and change and learning how to compromise. I think by both of us having babies at 18 and single parenting till that point, we both had developed a toughness surrounding living and surviving. We had to learn to be a partner with someone.
Our first baby was Chloe. My fluffy little black and white cavapoo. Jer says he’s never seen a dog so in love with their human. She’ll always be my baby. In fact Thomas calls Chloe baby. Our forever baby of the family.
After Chloe, her brother Harvey. A dog we got in the intention of being just like Chloe the one we adored and loved. Well there are no two Chloes! Because Harvey might as well be polar opposites despite being the same breed. He’s entertaining that’s all I can say.
Then came Alice. I remember the look on Jer’s face when I told him I wanted a baby. From that time on we were almost shamed for having babies at 18, left to prove to the world we were strong enough to parent that young and do it well. So it was a shift in mindset to plan to have a baby. And with someone we loved. Alice was born August 2nd, 2013. Our Hearts and worlds grew so much with her presence. She united our blended family together. I was in shock of how easy and wonderful it was to be a mother with a partner that stood by you, loved you in that early chaos and helped because he loved being a parent too. I loved witnessing him be a dad. Jer was made to be a dad. He gives his whole heart to his children. I love him more for it.
We bought our first home together in the end of 2014. It was a difficult road to get to that point and why it’s felt like such a big moment to us. Poor life choices in younger years which threw credit away. It has been a fixer upper and not our dream home but we love it because its ours and it took a lot of good choices and hard work to make it a reality. Emma has moved a lot and switched schools a few times, so to give my children stability in a home it’s what I’ve always wanted as a mom.
Renovating it piece by piece as a couple has been an overwhelming but fun experience as a couple. Jeremy is an amazing craftsman. He quite literally is my Chip to my Johanna Gaines creative spirit of life. I love to dream. He makes my dreams become a reality. If we had an endless budget. I have no doubt him and I would be the next Chip and Johanna. We have bonded and grown over this experience, realizing dreams can be made into a reality. They are attainable.
And Just as life was swimming along great. We expected nothing but smooth sailing from here out. But 2015 happened. Everlee’s year. We started out the year in paradise. Enjoying a long awaited honeymoon in St Thomas together. We had a conversation, walking hand in hand along Magen’s Bay at sunset, talking about life and how good it feels and wanting to just stay right where we were at. Kinda feeling like we won the lottery in a way and cashing out.
You can make the best plans in life, but Life will happen, regardless of any plans.
At the half way point through the decade that was life’s biggest realization. We came home from St Thomas. Expecting a baby. The surprise threw us for a loop. But learning it was a girl, Everlee Jo we named her, Our hearts where ready for another change, another to love, more growth, more Joy to our family. Two under two scared me but I knew as long as I had Jeremy to walk with we’d get through anything.
But Everlee’s story brought more surprises to life my heart ever was prepared for. Her diagnosis was at 28 weeks. The worry of what was to come. Her traumatic birth at 34 weeks. Her Death. We had to squeeze in a lifetime of memories with her in the three days we were given to say goodbye. I remember a moment in there where a counselor came in to talk with Jeremy and I about things like burial and urns and our options, me desperately holding Everlee for memory sake in our last moments, locking eyes with Jeremy, waiting for his lead. For once I was ready to relinquish complete control. I needed someone to hold my broken heart and body. I had nothing to give in those moments. No opinion.
He never left the hospital, or my side, he listened to my body heave tears trying to find sleep. He urged me to take care of myself after a hard surgery when I secretly wished my body to give out, join Everlee where ever her soul could be found. We made those hard decisions together. We drove home together out the the hospital without her in our back carseat. He let me clutch him as I watched the hospital where I held my baby in our only moments slip out of view. I turned up the music and wept the whole way home. Un able to fathom what just happened. The most silent a car ride that ever has been.
That same counselor made sure to tell us the percentages of couples that don’t make it after the death of a child. I believe her. You do have to come together, carrying grief completely different, holding one another up in what can be years of hard moments to follow. Loving each other despite what hard things grief brings to your life, honoring each others wishes in remembrance and healing. It gives love a new meaning. Even though he carried his own sadness he stood strong so many times for me, letting me break over and over again. Never rushing me.
The next few years of infertility after Everlee’s death was the hardest as a couple. We both felt so helpless for one another, we both ached for the same thing and both our bodies couldn’t seem to give one another the thing our hearts longed to hold again. We both cried and fought how to achieve that. Wondered if we were making ourselves miserable, if we should give up. On top of grief it was a lot for even the strongest marriages.
We had a miscarriage in 2017. Jeremy said yes to another puppy understanding at the time I needed a new baby to love. And the best I could do was a puppy. We found Jorgia. We decided to move forward with further treatments but decided our life might be complete with a new puppy, and that was ok.
Thomas came to us in October of 2018. I’ll never forget Jer’s face when I woke up and met him with a card, groggy before work on a monday morning, after a sunday where the Vikings just lost in playoffs for the millionth time, stripping our football fan hearts of a superbowl win, again. He asked if he could open it at work. I smiled “no way”. His face went from that depressed monday look and lite up the dark morning. The Vikings might have lost its chance of a superbowl win but we just received another chance to become parents once more. That moment was full of joy.
I tell you this start to Thomas’s story because pregnancy after loss, and infertility, is hard. I know now life happens and will. I know I can make plans for this baby in our life, but we are never guaranteed to get to that point. Thankfully Thomas made it safely. It wasn’t an easy delivery, scary at times, but one thing that I remember is Jer’s faith in my ability to get our son into our arms safely. He’s always believed in me. More than I have ever myself. And that moment Thomas was finally in our arms we knew we had won our own superbowl in life. He kept telling me thank you, and how proud of me he was. But what I don’t tell him enough is his constant presence in my life constantly gives me the strength to go on. He should be Thanked.
Jeremy took a job that lead him out of state for 5 months. He had to leave when Thomas was 6 weeks old and returned the next spring after Thomas had turned 6 months old. What I can say about that decision Jeremy made is he would do anything for his family, even leaving and sacrificing time with a long awaited for baby, if it was what his family needed finically. We  had to grow again even through the distance. We learned communication on a different level. We learned that we really really value each others company in life. We learned we never want to be apart again. Not because we wouldn’t make it without one another, but because we don’t want to do life with out each other.
This past year, after Jeremy’s return we have really have kept our time together close. Intentional to spend quality time together. Work on learning to live again again after being in survival mode for so long. We found a good rhythm for a bit. We watch little tv now, listen to more music while talking together instead, playing card games in front of a fire is a favorite date night. I appreciate that Jeremy’s good about making me put work down sometimes, to remember to experience what life is happening in front of me.
Time is a gift not to take for granted.
I had big goals for this past year. I devoted myself to perfecting a craft in photography, devoting myself to starting a new business. Jer encouraged me. Supported me. And Never made me feel guilty for how busy life got starting a new business and chasing after new dreams. He has been my biggest fan. A sounding board for frustrations and someone who whole hearted believed in me.
Jeremy and I both carry scars from Everlee’s missing piece, and from the trauma surrounding her birth. It’s affected us both in so many ways. Loving someone in times of mental warfare is not easy. You learn GRACE. You learn to see through the mask of whatever one carries into their heart. you grow UNDERSTANDING. This past year brought on a lot of anxiety and further depression related to the ptsd I carry.  I came to the realization it’s going to take a village to heal me. Jeremy has been such a big part of that village giving our vows in sickness and health new meaning.
Reflecting on this past decade with Jeremy, I never imagined much of this dreaming of life in his arms on that new years ten years ago. I never saw three babies, three dogs. I never imagined we would endure one of life’s hardest things it can throw at you. The death of our child. I never dreamed or wished for the infertility, or the further loss, I never wished to carry the scars from the pain, but at the same time, I can promise you my answer will always be the same. I would repeat those years again and again and again. Those last five years STILL gave us Everlee. And Thomas. Another puppy to love. A united front as a family. I’ve honestly never felt closer to my family as I do now. They are truly my home.
And Jer is truly my person. There’s nothing that could shatter us at this point as long as we are together. I feel as safe in his arms as I did ten years ago, the mindset of safe is just different. And even though we understand life is a journey of happenings and events it doesn’t stop us from dreaming where the next decade will bring us. This new years was fitting to what we value out of life now. Calm, peace, comforts of home and the glow of Everlee’s tree rather than blinking dance lights. I know I’m thankful to be able to look back at ten other new years spent with him. Our hearts grew immensely these past years, for each other, for our children, for the value of life.
The most important thing Ive taken from life thus far, Its not a race, there is a lot of talk about right or wrong but it’s really whats right for you, there isn’t a guide book only your heart to lead you, and not an end goal but making sure you embrace the journey.
And there is absolutely no one I would rather do it with than him. I’ll always choose him. I’m grateful he chose me.
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2009 into 2010
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2019 into 2020

I miss you too mom

There are so many moments in missing her I do often wonder …. does she miss me too ? 

This past month has been hard on my heart Mother’s Day remains a trigger to me in so ways, I read grief described in this way and thought how perfect this description was, especially for someone unaware of how grief stays apart of your life …. I will reshare what I read. 

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Repost • @thejarofsalt @onefitwidow •

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“ imagine that you are this bookshelf and grief were this thick, heavy and permanent book sitting in it..

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Over time, that book doesn’t change in shape or size. It just stays there and becomes a part of you. As the days and years pass, your library grows around it as everything you add to the shelf becomes another chapter and dimension in your life.  The grief, even if you choose to gloss over it, is an indelible presence juxtaposed with the growing collection of things..

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The spine might fade in the sunlight, yellowing pages will fall out, and its cover will definitely gather dust, but our grief is a book whose pages we can flip through and go back to when we feel compelled to. Without changing in weight, significance or meaning, it shall always and simply be another facet of our existence and one of many stories in our constantly changing life. “

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I have these moments where my heart needs to take a walk with this grief page through everything I’ve gone through and everything I’m missing with her. Feel the weight of this loss. Be ok with aching for her. Simply be where I am and be ok with the uncomfortableness of it all.

I asked a trusted person recently “am I doing something wrong I still at times am in utter despairing pain still. Am I not healing or moving forward properly”.

 I was told absolutely not. Grief will always be with us ever changing, but always present. There will be times we need to sit with it, and times you do tuck it away in sorts because everyone needs a break eventually from the pain. 

Its ok to put your grief book back on the shelf for awhile too.

This back and forth pull with grief in my life now I realized does not mean I’m not healing right or not letting go of something that I need to. I’m not holding on to the pain, it is something that is simply apart of me now just as so many other faucets that make me myself. It’s becoming comfortable with the eb and flow of this, being ok with joy and sorrow co existing together, instead of second guessing my own heart, and what healing looks like for me. 

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Thomas started crawling recently, I was smiling ear to ear, just beaming as I watched him race across the floor proud as can be. I was so happy to be here in that moment, over joyed really, but I also noticed this stabbing pain inside. I missed that moment with her …… It will always be that way with these big moments now. Joy and sorrow can co exist. And it is healthy and ok. I’m growing more accepting of finding this pain in these moments. It’s always going to be there. When she only lived 20 mins, we have missed and will continue to miss so much.

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I’ve been told I need to let go of more to move forward …. but I think moving forward will look different to everyone. My grief has changed over the years, I can feel that. But is it crazy to say I think I love her more than the day I was blessed to hold her in my arms that one moment. My love has grown for her still, just like any of my children, … even with her absence from my arms, my love still grows.

My love still grows for her and grief continues to come and go. Sometimes impacting me positively and sometimes in a way I’m forced to sit with it. And I continue to miss my daughter more than I could ever sit here and describe. This is my life and even though it hurts sometimes I’m ok with it. Because Everlee is mine, and love with always anchor us.

My moving forward might not look like much to the outside world but just being accepting of the way grief impacts my life is a step in healing. It will always be there. And that’s ok.

I hold onto her. But not to remain in pain. Because she is my daughter. And if missing her hurts it’s ok. My love for her fills me with joy too.

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To all the grieving hearts out there like mine that the question of if they miss us too, lingers with you too  …. I certainly believe they long for us too 🌻

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Thankyou for this love note @stephhawkes

All that 2018 brought ….

As 2018 comes to a close I find myself reflecting on so much. Both a year of highs and joyful things and the hardships this year brought on through grief and new realizations to take me into the coming year.

This was the year that brought us Thomas Jo. The little brother Everlee sent us to have and hold in arms. BF5D8799-8177-41B7-B79E-89ECD1BEA75FHe looks so much like both Alice and Everlee, but I’m finding so many things of Everlee tied up in Thomas it feels like she’s here with us sometimes and that is such a gift. I’ll never forget that moment I first held him. Our Rainbow baby we had tried for for so long finally in my arms. And when I got to bring him home. A pivotal moment I’ll never forget.

Getting pregnant was one long step for us, and pregnancy after the loss of Everlee and miscarrying baby Joy, harder than I thought. Nine long months of fear. Fear to love him to much, fearing you would have to give him back. It was a difficult period to go through but it gave me Thomas. I would do it all over again to always end up with him. Something I’ve always said about Everlee too even though I couldn’t keep her, I would still do it all over again.

It took all a lot of faith, a lot of patience, a lot of hope in the dark, a lot of trusting in things you do not understand. But when I held that sweet boy in my arms, I understood it all. And the dark moments in waiting for this miracle of ours suddenly were surrounded by peace. Thomas has taught me, when I feel like giving up, to hold on to that little bit you have left, if you hold onto that little bit of hope, faith, and strength left it can grow into amazing things. I’m happy I didn’t give up. And we are here today with him. He’s such a huge part of this past year. We waited soo long for a year like this. I hope my story, and Thomas can offer someone hope that is still in that waiting period. It will be worth the wait, I promise.

This was also the year we welcomed Jorgia into our home.

She saved us in so many ways too. I wouldn’t change anything about her she’s absolutely perfect. And I can see Everlee giggling from heaven at her just as I so often hear Alice giggling and playing with Jorgia. She was exactly how we needed to start out the year. I swear the desiscion to get Jorgia and saying yes to her opened up so many other yes’s in our lives.

 

This year we remembered Baby Joy along with Everlee. The only comfort I’ll ever have knowing I have two children in heaven is they have eachother. Until we can all be together again. We planted a hydrangea tree for Baby Joy on the due date we had been given. We will always remember the baby that should have been our Rainbow baby.

Thankyou for the ones that remember Joy with Everlee.

With each year that passes I can feel that there are those in our life that move on from our time with Everlee. So I’m so grateful for moments when others speak Everlee’s name, or remember her in a sweet way, or bring her along on their travels. It’s one of my greatest fears that she’ll be forgotten by others. I know she’ll always live in my own heart but it’s a rare gift these days when others remember her openly too. So Thankyou to everyone who still carries her in your heart too and sharing these moments with us.

I’ve also taken this year to grow in my photography. Something I feel I’ve gained after Everlee. These moments we are given on earth are precious and treasured. I want to capture so many of them. Everlee has shown me this importance and opened my eyes to the beauty I never really saw till I started to look for heaven on earth. I’m hoping 2019 is the year I can start using this growing gift for other grieving families and give them these last moments with their children to forever remember.

I’ve never saw a sunset or sunrise the same way as after Everlee. 84E37934-358C-4B56-BB32-2C2B640935B0This sunrise I caught above the garden. It had taken me so long to learn to use my camera in that way to get all the right colors that I saw in person. It was my first picture I felt I had Captured the pure essence of . As pure as heaven is I suppose. As close to heaven we can get here on earth.

This year I took all my pictures of Everlee back into the beautiful color that was always her.

There was a time I needed them in black and white, but this year something changed. The room we held her in was filled with light and color just like her. She has shown me and added so much color to my life. She was not black and white but beautiful and colorful. This year was about finding the color she left us. The year of our Rainbow.

Another year went by, another year she turned three in heaven and celebrating this birthday was just as hard as all the others. If not more. The more time goes by the farther I know I get from the moment I shared with her. But we will always celebrate her, she will always be our daughter, or a sister, and celebrate the fact that she is ours. So we make her cake and September 8th will always be her day. The day we celebrate Everlee. 2291188F-9D10-4D2D-950B-56E9C0DD9EC2

 

With all the joys I can’t ignore the hardships of the year. This year I realized how little friends will stick by your side in pain with you. They turn around the pain you carry to somehow affect their lives. I somewhat get it. They simply just don’t understand. Or they wanted to old me back and that won’t happen. And I’m happy they don’t carry the lifelong pain of grieving a child. But why the outside world is so intolerable to this type of grief, and judgemental of how we decide to go through our pain or attempt healing , the only think is that same reasoning they don’t understand or care to open their hearts to try. And I hope to find peace with the betrayal that plagued my heart this year. Peace and forgiveness to move on from the ones that held my daughter and stole moments from me and then left without even a conversation as if years of wonderful friendship and memories didn’t mean a thing.

And Jeremy took a job out of state for the winter. It’s been hard managing a family by myself but mostly I miss the constant companionship of him. But it’s made us more thankful for the moments we have, taught us even more how to be present with eachother and communicate better. It’s also taught me to find more strength in myself which I needed to find. And we are thankful for the family that continues to always help and support as a family unit was meant to do.

But when I think of the year as a whole, I can find more Joy this year then pain. It outweighs it, and that’s all a grieving mom can ask for.

I know the coming year and the years to come despite welcoming more into our family we will always find hard times missing Everlee. She’s simply not replaceable and our grief our pain surrounding the hard moments is just great love we have just for her.

Im leaving the year, with a rainbow in our arms growing, safe in our arms. Thankful for every smile, every snuggly moment even the ones he doesn’t stop crying, the hard moments of parenting.

I feel thankful I’m on the other side of a fearful pregnancy after loss.  Im thankful for the new friends I found this year and the ones that have stayed with me.

All in all I’m looking forward to what the new year brings, it’s been many years since I’ve felt that. I’m going to carry the love Everlee leaves us and bring it forward, with understanding of the hardships of grief but ok with it. Looking forward to finding more peace towards the further losses and continuing walking through the scared place of Joy alongside pain. Giving myself credit that I’m doing it the best I can and always following my heart through it all.

2018 had more Joy present than pain. It’s the most I could have ever hoped for.

 

A Christmas letter to heaven

Each year we all take time with our hearts and write letters to Everlee, so her stocking can be full in the morning, rather than empty. Full of love. 

This is my letter to her this Christmas. 

 

My dear Everlee,

You never travel far from my thoughts. So many of my thoughts each day are of you. And each Christmas I search for moments that lead me to closeness with you, the one my heart will always be aching for most this time of year.

I think of all that Christmas is to you in heaven. A celebration of birth. A story of a fathers love. A story that sings of Hope. A story of love. And when I see you celebrating up in heaven I can think of so many other sweet souls your surrounded by, warmed by each others spirits. I imagine sweet snowflakes floating everywhere around, so delicate, so perfect, each one glittering. And the glow of stars, something to mimic what we try to create here on earth by the glow of Christmas lights. I imagine sweet carols being sung by the sweetest of Voices. And so much love bursting from every corner of heaven.

Can you feel the love I send you? I send you some everyday baby girl and always especially on Christmas.

My heart feels more joyful this year as we soak up the blessing of your new brother to fill our arms. Thank you sweet girl, for picking out the sweetest little brother for us to have here. He must have a little of your sweetness you sent in him. I can feel it, when he smiles and talks to us in his little voice. And the way he looks at your picture, you must have told him so many stories before he got in our arms. Or maybe you visit him in his dreams.

We all love and miss you Everlee. There’s always this empty place where you should be. Every cherished moment we share together, there’s always a place for you, there always will.

I want to continue carrying you in love. Spreading The joy in my heart you have given to me being your mom. You didn’t happen to us but for us. You’ll always be for us. And I try to share the beauty I see now because you are mine. I love the sunsets and sunrises you send me, I always feel they are paintings from you. Just like your sister draws me pictures all the time.

And I’ll share the love you have opened my heart too. My heart has grown so much, Evey, you have shown me love is powerful enough to span from heaven and earth. Love is at the center of it all.

And in some days I sense the peace you send me. Where the aches remain calmer, and my spirit doesn’t feel tired but energized from all you have given us.

Your a giver, and your a teacher my dear Daughter. You have a tender soul I feel blessed to have felt entertwine with mine.

If I could wish for one thing each Christmas, it will always be you. Or even just for a dream to meet you in. One where I could hold you for another moment, this Christmas, with the snowflakes from heaven falling all around us.

I love you baby girl don’t you ever forget that. Hug Joy tonight for me. And sing Those birthday celebrations to Jesus loudly, for it’s the hope that he has given us that will reunite us together someday.

Merry Christmas Everlee. My daughter, My angel, my shining star from heaven.

All my love – your mama

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Christmas in Everlee’s Garden

It’s our fourth Christmas without Everlee, and I can tell you missing her especially at Christmas never goes away. Sometimes with the passing years I fear I miss her more as I feel further away from the moment we shared holding her in our arms.

Looking back on all these Years without her, her garden remains a constant place of peace and healing for me. I’ve always said you can feel the presence not just of Everlee but so many more. And that is why Everlee’s garden is a spot for so many and not just her. There’s magic there, if you had a chance to walk through the archway and sit on the bench, listen to the sounds of windchimes, of birds or bees buzzing in the summer, you would hear the sweet sounds of heaven I do, and open your eyes to each season there, each blooming flower, the butterfly’s and dragonfly’s swinging by. The color in fall. The white blanket of winter. The glow off the snow. Each sunrise and sunset. You would see heaven as I do. And if you sat and closed your eyes felt the soft wind swirling around you, you would start to feel heaven around you too as I do.

Each year at Christmas it gets decorated. And I realize it’s something I can physically do for Everlee that makes my heart so happy. There is so many things that are missed out of parenting when your child lives in heaven. This is how I like to spend time with Everlee. How I can love her from earth to heaven. The garden is our meeting place.

Out of all the gifts I give on Christmas, giving you all the gift of seeing your child’s name in Everlee’s garden for Christmas is my favorite gift to give.

This project keeps growing each year. This year I placed 150 names, and I found myself a bit overwhelmed at times, I know next year I’ll need help this project is growing bigger than just me myself handling it. Knowing this made me think about the importance of you all and the support we offer one another.

Mamas I know that we all feel like we individually are the only ones that remember our babies/children sometimes. And I know we all feel at times that we shout from the rooftop, their short lives mattered, they were loved, they are remembered, so missed, and they are always still apart of us. We don’t move on, we don’t forget. We lead by example hoping our friends and family remember the missing piece of our heart. Sometimes others listen, sometimes they don’t. They might not understand but I do. I know seeing their names is such a gift. Seeing their names make your heart skip a beat. Their names are a part of them, it’s who they are, here on earth and in heaven.

I remember them with you. I wrote out each name with care and love, I lovingly placed them in the garden and wished each child a merry Christmas. Each of these children have touched my heart along with the mamas that carry them.

This is my gift to you this Christmas. I wish I could give you each another moment with your baby but knowing I can’t I CAN give you this simple gift.

Why stars this year …..

I chose star ornaments this year, because I always feel like Everlee is shining through to me from heaven. Through sunrises and sunsets. She’s my star leading through the dark sky of grief. My star to wish upon and talk to in the heavens.

Did you know each point on a star symbolizes something. Earth, air, fire, water, and the top spirit. Every part of nature. And where I can feel her close to me most in moments in nature.

Stars for all our angels lighting up the heavens with its glowing light. Stars were perfect for all our angels still shining. Their lights are still so bright here on earth! 

I imagine a heaven is so beautiful, Filled with all our beautiful children. I imagine them all coming to the garden to dance together on Christmas is the sparkling snow, under the glow of the Twinkling Christmas lights.

Merry Christmas to you all. I wish that this gift leaves you with peace to fill your heart as I feel in the garden. I hope the joy of seeing your children being remembered puts a smile on your heart. And I hope you feel the love I’m sending you your way. And the love I sent to each child missed this Christmas.

The magic behind the tree 🌲

I think it’s time I retold the story behind this beautiful white tree that stands in my house at Christmas time. The one that shines so bright you don’t even need any lamps on at night. The one that glitters and twinkles. The one we call Everlee’s tree. Just like the tree itself has a story to tell so does every ornament that hangs on it. All stories of Everlee. Past and present. As she’s always near even from heaven.

Its our fourth Christmas, this year, without Everlee, and I wish I could tell you all it has gotten easier, But there is still so much pain resonating inside from missing her and a little more always at Christmas. A time for Joy a time for family. And there’s someone missing. My heart always feels it.

Christmas before we lost Everlee, I always enjoyed. It felt light hearted and still as an adult I found magic in it but more seeing it through my childrens eyes. Christmas became strikingly different after Everlee. more painful time than i could ever imagine. I remember that first Christmas without her very well. I just wanted to hide. Close the door and emerge after all these holidays. How could I celebrate be merry when I was broken as I’d ever been. And I would never be able to witness Christmas through her eyes.

The pain was soo raw that first year, so unknown, so hard to process what a broken heart felt like period but even more so at Christmas when everyone around me was bustling with merriment.

I remembered the Joy of Christmas’s past, I didn’t want to loose that. I had always loved Christmas, but I suddenly hated it. I saw the trees and decorations coming out and felt sick to my stomach. The hustle and bustle felt so meaningless, all the family’s that were happy and whole a reminder of how broken I felt. How empty our home felt without our youngest daughter. I remember praying for a miracle that year. I didn’t know how my broken heart would make it through the holidays. It was hard enough just getting out of bed back then. It still is some days. But I knew I needed a miracle to make it through that Christmas.

I would get asked what do you want for Christmas this year? And I would just blankly stare, this had to be a joke right I thought. I don’t want any “thing” , the only thing I really wanted was Everlee. Can you give me my daughter back, because’s that’s all I really wish I could have. And is still is. The one thing that can’t be given.

I was also so worried she would be forgotten that first year. That I would look at all these smiling faces and feel that nobody cared my heart was still broken. That there was another piece to our family. Everlee’s first Christmas. That needed to be celebrated so many worlds apart.

All I can Everlee knew I needed this tree, our own Christmas miracle. Maybe she was trying to share the joy of Christmas in heaven with us. Christmas through her eyes.

I had attended a griefshare group on surviving the holidays, there was a story a mom told about how after she lost her husband, her and her kids would put up a tree just for Dad, filled with dads ornaments and things he liked to do. She said it filled thier home with her husbands presence at Christmas.

Thats what I was looking for, I wanted to fill my home with Everlee too, Her presence too. I immediately ran to the store to get my Everlee tree. As I walked into the store that day my eye found these beautiful white trees, Something about these white trees, a feeling they gave my heart that day. I knew Everlee’s tree needed to be white. Not pink, not green, definitely white.

But those big beautiful white trees weren’t in the budget, so I decided to wait until right before Christmas when I knew they’d go on sale.

I waited patiently to get my tree I wanted. And The day those trees went on sale I loaded up Alice and headed to Target. The first target was all sold out of the white ones, and the second. By the time we got to the third and found no white trees I finally asked for help there, and someone called a farther away store. It was practically blizzarding outside but I would have drove through whatever. They had one left I was told, only one white tree but they would put it up at the front for me and hold it.

So we headed to the fourth Target that morning. By this time my nerves were through the roof driving in a snowstorm, anxious to get this tree. I knew I needed this tree at this point. My heart felt such a pull towards a tree it felt urgent and it was becoming a bigger ordeal than I expected.

We arrived at the the fourth store, headed to the front to get the tree we had put on hold. But there was no tree. My heart was pounding. The employee said well let’s go look back on the floor, thinking nobody had gotten a chance to bring it up yet. We went back to the holiday aisles, no tree in sight. I could barely think through the stress I was feeling from it. She looked everywhere in that store and nothing it was gone. At this time the tears were so close as I clutched on to Alice for dear life. I needed that tree. Maybe I couldn’t have Everlee but a tree I should be able to have that. She took me to the desk to check any other stores in the inventory, As she looked we both realized the particular white tree I was looking for was literally gone from every single target in Minnesota. All sold out everywhere. There were others but that was what I felt I needed.

Her manager walked over and asked us if everything was alright. I must have looked upset or something And she asked me such a simple question “ is everything alright” but it hit me no nothing was all right this Christmas. I wanted Everlee, I needed this tree. So there in the middle of Target at Christmas time, the tears came. They streamed. Everyone stared. I looked at her and apologized as I tried to control the river of tears coming out. I explained it was fine, I’m not crying over the tree, I said I just lost my daughter this year, she passed away and that tree was supposed to be for her this Christmas. I was trying to find a way to bring her into our home.

She stared at me for a minute and I thought great she thinks I’m nuts, I got ready to turn away and she said “I have one more white tree, it’s not the one your looking for but it’s white.” She led me to this beautiful white 10 foot Christmas tree they had on display. And besides it was one more box, one last white tree that matched the one on display. It was beautiful no doubt but even with the sale they had that day that tree I told her it was still out of my budget.

She looked at me and said “I would like you to have this for your daughter, and you can have it for the price of the other tree you wanted. It’s no problem.”

If anyone is familiar with Target they don’t just do that knock of insane amounts of money, they are a huge cooperation they don’t have personal costumer service like that. Or care if something wasn’t in your budget.

I told her my ceilings aren’t that tall either, let alone that box won’t even fit in my car. She assured me, the tree came in four pieces it would be ok to leave a couple out, and just like that she had someone disassemble it from the box and load it into my car nicely.

I left that day in shock, my heart overwhelmed being met with such openness in my historics, tather than blank uncomfortable stares I normally get. When she had taken my up the the register she never even charged me for the price of the original tree, I think she gave me the 95 percent off deal. I drove away knowing she had been my angel that day. Thankful and full of tears. My heart felt restored by this kindness I recieved from a stranger.

A little bit of the pain was replaced with this magic behind this act, a returned Joy, a Christmas miracle of my own I thought. I knew that was the right tree, to call Everlee’s tree, in fact maybe she picked that one all along. Everlee had sent me just the right one. Because the story of kindness this tree had behind it made it extra perfect. This was Everlee’s tree straight from heaven.

I cried the whole way home. My heart was so touched, and I felt Everlee close. I needed that. I got home and put it up right away. It was even more beautiful standing in my home.

This a picture from that very moment. Alice in front.

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The tree remains a staple in our home at Christmas. Each year it gets added to a little more. This year I added more color to it the colors of Everlee. Blue for the ocean for she is our island baby. Pink was added for this blush pink reminded me of the little pink hat we had on her in the hospital. And yellow in the sunflowers. And gold, for when I dream of her she has this golden blonde hair that shines.

I have ornaments on it that have been gifts to her. One ornament I made that first year, baby’s first Christmas in heaven it reads. There are Ornaments that  remind us of the beach and the story that surrounds her in that. Angels that I’ve found that remind me of her. Flowers adorn the tree representing Everlee’s garden and the beauty that garden brings to our lives. I found a tree topper made out of starfish. It couldn’t be more perfect. And we have picked up ornaments from each one of our travels, our way of bringing something home for Everlee.

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Everlee’s tree definitely brings her presence into our home at Christmas. Her presence literally sparkles all over through it. Just what I had wanted.

Yes Christmas I believe will always be painful without her. But I’ve found ways to help my heart this time of year. This tree is one of them. Everlee’s tree, the tree with a story to tell and a whole lotta Christmas magic.

I realized as I gazed upon this year how many ornaments and story’s are on there now. The tree is getting over crowed. Her story lives on.

Good thing I have two more sections to this tree that I currently can’t fit. Now I just need  bigger cielings!

Everlee might not have lived long but the stories surrounding her, past and present are plentiful. Her story is not done yet. And we find her still in so many ways today. Although we can’t touch her, we feel her in such a huge way.

I now I’ll always wish for her at Christmas, the one I’ll always want home for Christmas. The one my heart Longs for. maybe she answered me that first year. That wish. In the form of a bright white tree. Sent straight from heaven by an angel so I could glimpse into the magic she finds there. So I could feel her so brightly fill up our home.

I cant wait to ask her someday when she’s back in my arms.

This is one of the many ways we feel close to the little girl we miss the most. Our Christmas traditions with Everlee. It’s how we survive. It’s how we find joy and feel a little magic again.

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Moments worth Remembering.

– A moment might last all of a second, but a memory lasts a lifetime.

I’ve been holding onto something. Which is right now mimicking my grief surrounding Everlee at the moment. I have been feeling entirely so much lately, so much has happened, so much is still happening,  but for some reason I find I am holding onto all my thoughts, my hurts, my grief, my new realizations, even my new joys and gifts close to my heart. And with that my heart has guarded this “new” something of Everlee I received for awhile.

A picture is worth a thousand words, a memory frozen in time. I ponder this thought as I have been devoting more of my time lately into my love of photography. Something I have newly found a passion in after loosing Everlee. Something that excites my heart now.

Something I know I could always want more of is pictures of Everlee. But I only seem to have so many. Not enough I always find myself saying. I only have so many, I know, because I only took so many, and because we only had Everlee for three days versus the lifetime we should have. But as I reflect back to those three days I AM missing so many photos that match the memories in my mind. Missed opportunities. I was in a state of shock, and  I understand this now, so I have to forgive myself, even though I think of all this often. How I want more. More pictures to remember Everlee of. Just a couple more.

There’s simply limited photos of me holding my daughter, as I look back. It really kills me. I wonder why no one else around me in that time thought to take any. This was the the only time this mother would have to hold her daughter. We should have taken more. I have four of me and her together. And It’s not enough. But better than none I know.

There’s limited photos of Everlee with her older sisters too. There were more moments in there I remember but the photos are missing. And we never cordinated getting all three sisters there at the same time for a family photo. It seems so silly now, schedules clashing keeping so many apart from this one opportunity we had for a family photo that we never got with her, because it didn’t work with everyone’s schedule. How silly. How dumb. A never ending heartbreak I’ll carry. Another missed opportunity. Another moment lost.

There were more visitors than we had pictures of and more memories we made that didn’t get documented.

Memories in mind but missed when I find myself searching through her photos.

It bothers me I never took a video, it bothers me we didn’t get many pictures of her not wrapped up, …… I wonder did we keep her wrapped up in the pictures, trying to hide the scars from her surgery. As a way of Hiding from reality? I know now those scars are beautiful. They make you who you are. I don’t hide my scars just like we didn’t need to hide Everlee’s.

Those scars, her wounds told her story. They never should be hidden I think now. I want to remember all of her. Everything inch of her that I held those days. Every part of her that made her beautiful.

All of this is why I now have ever since taken an over abundance of pictures, wanting to collect moments going forward in still form. Finding the hidden emotion in each one. Each photograph always has a story behind it. I want to find it. I want to tell each one. I want to remember each moment I have lived. Afraid I would miss more in these present moments I share now, I snap away. Never wanting to be left wanting more as I do with Everlee.

And just when I thought not ever would I get one more photograph of Everlee. I DID receive one more. One more I would take in, study every detail, and cry for hours. Simply the best gift.

When Everlee is missing from my arms all I have is these photographs. To remind she was real. That this moment I long to repeat wasn’t just a dream and all the pain I feel from missing her comes from these moments. Moments I had her here with me and why I will miss her for the remainder of my day’s.

How I was ever able to say goodbye and to leave that hospital without her I’ll never know.

Three years later I swear I miss her more each day. I stare at her photos often. Always wonder so much things I could have done different, always wish for more …. So receiving a new photo of Everlee, one I haven’t seen, haven’t studied for hours ….  Its simply the greatest gift.

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A new moment I’ll have now to remember forever. ❤️

Your perfect my darling girl. Absolutely perfect. And my heart aches for you so.

 

A moment might last all of a second, but a memory lasts a lifetime. 

Take the photo, ALWAYS. Of these moments you witness of ones you love around you. Of yourself too, moments that are entirely yours. You never know when that moment is a last. You’ll never know when you want more but can’t. You’ll never know when you can gift someone one more just like I had been given …..

yes so much of life is living, but if you see me snapping away and you shake your head, just know I AM still living but capturing as many moments as I can along the way. Because I never want to be wishing I had taken more again.

Time blurs some of our clarity in these memories, but these photos always help us retell a story.

Everlee’s story will forever entangle with mine. I will always wish for more. But forever be thankful for what I have with her. Even if not much at all. What photos I was given even though far too few. But most importantly how Everlee taught me the magic in a single moment and the reason why you should capture it.

You never know how long it will last.