This blog is an uncensored look into my soul. I am writing this as part of my healing process, but am leaving it public so others can follow me through my journey.

If you'd like to start from the beginning, click on the beautiful, adorable picture of Hailey on the right hand column.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Family Vacation

Today I've been feeling a little out of sorts.  Maybe not even a little, maybe a lot.  I couldn't put my finger on it except for the fact that I had kind of a down, empty feeling all day.  My mom was over visiting, so I went and ate lunch by myself at Hailey's Place.  All of a sudden...I put my finger on it.  I'm missing my little girl...sooo much.

This Saturday we're leaving for a two week trip to the East Coast to visit a bunch of family and friends.  I realized that I'm so sad because I feel like I'm leaving my little girl behind.  I already know all the cliche things that everyone will say, such as, "She'll be with you in spirit," etc., etc.  And, I KNOW she will, but that doesn't matter right now, at this moment.  I don't want her there in spirit.  I want her there in body!  I want to have that long list of things to pack for her: extra g-tubes, syringes, breathing machine, breathing mask and tubes, medication, blah, blah, blah! I want to see her so excited to fly on an airplane!  I want to get frustrated with her on that same airplane for not sitting still!  I want to see her with her grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles!  I want to see her playing in the woods, trying to catch fireflies, laughing, yelling, whatever!  I just want to see her!  

We're going all over while there.  We'll be in Pennsylvania, New York City, Boston, back in Pennsylvania again...  It's going to be so hard for me to go on a "family vacation" without my entire family physically there.  This is actually the same trip we had booked last year, but instead we ended up having a funeral.  I'm sure that's probably where some of my emotions are coming from.

I definitely didn't anticipate feeling this way, but unfortunately, I am.  I don't know why, but I have a lot of fear too.  I fear leaving her here alone.  I know that may sound really weird because she's technically neither here nor alone.  But, her place is where I can go to feel extra close to her because I know that her physical being is right there six feet away from me.  I fear that doing something like a family vacation without her will make it seem like she's not part of the family anymore.  I mean, I know she is, of course she is, but I still have that fear in me.  I fear that leaving her and her place behind may cause her to feel abandoned, even though I know there's no way it would.  (It's like thinking your stuffed animals come alive when you're not there and cry because your gone.)  I fear having a good time without her.  I fear taking family pictures without her in them. I fear making any new memories away from home without her there.  I fear that if I'm smiling or laughing when I see a lot of these people for the first time since Hailey died I'll give them the false impression that I'm over it or that I'm totally okay.  I fear that I may not find any dimes.  Seriously, I fear everything right now.  

All these thoughts and emotions have caught me completely off guard.  I guess that's one of the things I've learned throughout this process...that you seriously never know when the grief is going to hit you or what's going to set it off.  It's so weird because some things that I think would be extremely difficult on me, aren't, yet, others that should be "easy" or "enjoyable" are ridiculously hard.  I guess that's why they always say to take it one day at a time.

I also wasn't prepared for how hard Lexi's last day of school would be.  But as I thought about it, I realized that today should be Hailey's last day of school too.  We took Lexi out to dinner to celebrate and as I walked through the restaurant to our table, I noticed so many families sitting together probably celebrating the same thing we were.  Then I felt this pang of guilt as I thought about how lucky they all were to have all their kids with them and how unfair it was for me not to have Hailey.  (Although, I am also keenly aware of the fact that any one of them could have lost a child or loved one and be grieving just as I am.)  
Anyways, I'm sorry this wasn't one of my most uplifting entries, but honestly, I'm sad right now.  I'm hurting and I'm kind of having a pity party for myself.  But I guess I've earned the right to do that every once in a while, didn't I?  

On a positive note though, one of the highlights of my day was getting a phone call from my dad to see how I was doing.  After my mom left, she called and told him she was a little worried about me.  Sure enough, a couple minutes later the phone rings and there he is on the other end of the line checking up on me.  I seriously have the best parents ever.  They are always there for me when I need it.  They have been so compassionate and understanding and non-judgmental of me and the way I grieve.  I am truly blessed.  

(And yes, Kim, you're awesome too!)

I'll keep you all updated while on our trip and let you know how it's going.  I'm hoping to have a lot of dime stories to share! 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Messages From Beyond

The other night Sean and I were watching 20/20 on TV.  They had a clip called Messages From Beyond.  It was all about people who had lost loved ones on 9/11 and how those loved ones have sent them messages from the other side.  It was AMAZING!!  I am such a believer...especially because I have also experienced such messages from my precious little angel.

As we were watching, they interviewed this lady whose husband died that day.  She was talking about how he used to whistle the song, A Penny For Your Thoughts. She said that she once asked him what a quarter would bring and his answer turned into a little inside joke between them.  (She didn't share the joke, but I'm sure we can all figure it out!!!  ha ha)  Anyways, after he passed away, she started finding quarters all over her house in the most random places: in her bed, on her phone, etc.  I was thinking...that's me, that's me...with my dimes!!!!  

The next little clip they showed was from the movie Ghost.  (Since Hailey passed away my dad has referred to that movie numerous times.)  Patrick Swayze (who had passed away) was sitting in front of Demi Moore (his wife), he picked up a dime and made it float over to her!!!  (YES...A DIME!)  He was talking to Whoopie Goldberg (who was the only one who could see him as a ghost) and told her to tell his wife that, "it is for love."  I instantly started crying.  A huge grin came across my face and the tears started to flow.   My Hailey is sending me dimes for love too!!  It IS REAL!!!  I've found dimes in way too many random places at way too many perfect times that I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt they are from her.

Anyways, I attached the clip here for anyone who would like to watch it. It's really touching to watch.  There are many other stories aside from the quarter/dime one.

Click on the link below:
20/20: Messages From Beyond

(The entire clip is a little over 9 minutes long, however if you would just like to see the part about the quarters (and dime!) follow these instructions:  After the ad is finished playing, place your cursor on the screen where the clip starts to play.  You'll see a gray bar across the bottom.  Drag your arrow along that bar until it's at there.  That will start it at the point I'm talking about!  Hope this makes sense!!)

Oh, I also looked up the lyrics to the song, A Penny For Your Thoughts, and it says, "A penny for your thoughts / A nickel for a kiss / A DIME IF YOU TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME..."


Monday, June 14, 2010

Dime at Disneyland!

Once again, my girl comes through for me!!!  I really think I'm going to write a book of my dime stories (and those of yours that you've shared!)!  I've seriously had so many miraculous finds!!!

Anyways, today I took the girls to Disneyland for the day.  Lexi was off school AGAIN...gotta love the California public school system!  Once we got to Toon Town (for those of you who know Disneyland) Lexi's mood seemed to become really somber.  After a little prodding, she admitted to me that she was really missing Hailey.  (They used to play in Toon Town together whenever we went to Disneyland.)  Seriously, how much pain can one heart take?  Apparently, A LOT because mine is so swollen for Lexi.   

That's when I really started talking to Hailey and asking her to let me know that she was there with her sister.  A little while later we got a text from one of her best friend's mom that they were there too.  So we met up with them for a little bit.  Lexi's mood perked up and she seemed so happy for the rest of the evening.  I told her that since Hailey couldn't physically be there to play with her, she sent one of Lexi's best friends to do the job!!

All the while I'm still looking and praying for my dime.  Well, as we're getting ready to leave I went the wrong way through the chains that form the line where you buy your pass or tickets.  We had to go through the whole maze and then come out the end and back track to get to the exit...sorry, it's a little confusing.  The point though, is that after going all that way, out of our way, as we come out of the maze of chains there off to my right about 5 feet away was a little silver circle.  I walked up and sure enough, it was a dime, tails up!!  I seriously couldn't believe it!!!  My daughter is amazing!! 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

She's Always Here!

Lexi had the day off school on Friday, which ended up bringing another harsh realization to my world.  It's going to be a long summer with Lexi home everyday and Hailey not around to play with her.  

Ava was up super early that morning, which means I was too.  So a little later, I decided to take  a nap while Ava was sleeping.  Lexi was hanging out with me for a bit and then decided to go down into the garage (it's finished like a playroom) and play school. That's her favorite thing to play.  I was feeling a little guilty and sad for her that she didn't have anyone to play with.  Lexi and Hailey used to play school together all the time!  

Anyways, a little later we went to lunch with some friends, but I was feeling really down and missing Hailey a lot.  I just couldn't stop thinking about how hard it's going to be without her all summer and how sad I was for Lexi that she lost her playmate.  Now, don't get me wrong...Hailey was her playmate, as well as, her "fightmate!"  They did have their moments of complete and utter screaming and crying matches, but it still gave her someone to talk to and something to do!!!  Lexi has tons of great friends and I know we'll keep very busy this summer, but it's still not the same.  No one will be able to take the place of her little sister and the times they spent at home playing together.

When we got back from lunch, I walked into the garage and saw on the little table she was using as a desk, a homemade name tag with Hailey's name on it.  

That literally just about broke me.  My heart crushed into a million pieces for Lexi and the loneliness she must feel for her sister.  I didn't mention it to her because she didn't mention it to me and I didn't want to risk putting thoughts or feelings into her mind that she may not already be having.  She is always very open and honest with me, so I know if she was really upset about it she would have told me. 

I think the issue is much more with me and my sadness for Lexi, than Lexi and her sadness for herself...if that makes any sense.  Anyways, later that day I was talking to my mom and telling her how down I was feeling about the summer coming up and Hailey not being here.  Last summer I took the three girls on some really fun adventures together and now whenever we go anywhere together, my girls and I, Lexi won't have her sister there to talk to and play with and "teach."  Yes, Ava is there, but the age difference is much bigger and it's just not the same.  Lexi can't really "play" with her yet.  So, back to talking with my mom.  She told me that she was talking to Hailey all day today asking her to send me something so I would know that she was still around and with me.  At that point, I hadn't gotten any sign from her and really wasn't planning on it since I was in the car headed to a friend's house for the evening.

However...little did I know!!  As I parked down the street from my friend's house, it was dark and I couldn't see much.  I was about 4 houses away, and as I came upon one of the driveways of her neighbor there in the middle of the street I saw a little silver circle.  I thought, "No way! That would seriously be impossible and way too weird."  But, I just HAD to double check...and sure was a DIME!!!!  I snatched it up with the HUGEST grin on my face thinking, "You sly dog, you!!  I love you so much!"

Enough said!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Who would she be?

Unfortunately, I have two very significant dates coming up within one month of each other. Hailey's 4th birthday is July 20th and the one year date of her death is August 11th (also my dear mother's birthday.).  I can feel my grief and pain intensifying each day that those dates get closer.  I feel anxiety like never before.  I have cried a lot the last week or so as the reality of losing my little girl and living an entire year without her starts to hit me.

Today I sat at Hailey's Place and wrote her a letter telling her how much I missed her and how sad I was that she's not here to help me plan what should be her 4th birthday party.  Instead of sitting there missing her to pieces, we should be at Party City together picking out a birthday theme and decorations. I wonder what she would have been into.  Would she have wanted a princess party, a Barbie party, who knows, maybe even a Star Wars party for her dad! I can just imagine her big, blue eyes sparkling as she picks out her cake and little goody bag treats.  I can see so vividly her adorable, crooked smile as she hands out her birthday invitations to her little preschool friends.  I can feel her excitement as the day approaches and her friends start to arrive to celebrate with her.  Then I feel that hole in my stomach turn as I realize that all those things are just in my imagination.

We'll definitely be celebrating her birthday in some way.  It falls on a Tuesday, so we decided to spend that day with just our immediate family, Sean, me, Lexi, and Ava.  Sean and I are going to let Lexi plan what she thinks Hailey would have wanted to do.  Then, I think that Saturday, we'll be planning something for anyone else who is local and would like to join us in "celebrating" her precious little life. I will post the info on my blog when plans are more final.  However, I just can't promise one of those joyous, exciting, 4 year old birthday parties that most of you are used to.

Tomorrow will be 10 months since I last held, kissed, or heard my baby girl alive.  I have to say, on one hand, I can't believe I'm still here and emotionally capable of talking about it.  I guess I've come a long way.  I also have to say that it's crazy and scary how life can change in an instant.  If someone had told me a year ago today that this would be my life now, I would have had them sent to a mental institution.  Yet, here I am and this is my life now.  Why me?  Why her?  I have my beliefs and feelings on that, but it doesn't make it any easier.  I miss her. I miss her so much it physically hurts.  

A year in the life of a 3-year old makes a HUGE difference.  This leaves me wondering, pretty much every second of every day, who Hailey would be now...a year later.  What things would she be into?  What toys would she like?  Would she still talk with that funny German accent?  Would she be able to write her name?  Would she have little playdates with her preschool friends?  Who would be her best friend at school?  Would she still yell all the time? :) Would her and Lexi be best buds yet?  How would she be with Ava?  Would she be healthy?  Would she know to take small bites while eating so her food wouldn't get stuck?  Would she be able to tell me when her esophagus felt tight and she needed to be dilated?  Would she still have her little feeding button?  Would she still ask for Lay's potato chips every morning? Would she be excited to go on an airplane in a few weeks to visit our family on the East Coast? Would she still be best buds with her Grampies?  Would she sleep in her own big girl bed?  What would make her laugh?  Would she still love to dance?  What would be her favorite color?

These are such trivial questions, but they mean the world to me.  They would tell me who Hailey is now.  I HATE not knowing these things about her.  I HATE having to wonder what the answers to all these questions are.  I know I shouldn't sit and dwell on these questions, but it's somewhat impossible.  I want to know.  I want to know who Hailey would be now.  It really isn't fair.  

As I sit here, typing through my tears, I have to say that I am so grateful for such an amazing support system.  I have such caring and compassionate family, friends I know well and friends I've never met, who have chosen to walk this path beside me, even though at times it's very uncomfortable. I am so grateful for my two daughters who are still here with me and the desire they give me to get up every single day and continue on.  I am so grateful for a supportive, loving husband who allows me to grieve in my own way.  I am so grateful for my faith and how it has literally pulled me through this every single day.  I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and the fact that He has felt every single feeling and emotion I do.  I am grateful that He continues to pick me up, throw me over His shoulder, and carry me when I need it.  Throughout everything, I am grateful to still know that Hailey lives in spirit and that she watches over me everyday and that I will once again be with her!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Therapy Session

I had my third official therapy session today and I have to say that I am so very glad I decided to start going.  It's funny because I'm finding that I don't have too many grief issues, but I definitely have other issues I need to address...however, I'll save those for a whole other blog!!!

Anyways, I did have a great realization today though, dealing with my loss of Hailey.  So, I figured I'd share it.  First off, I was telling my therapist how I sleep soooo much and often feel guilty about it.  She reassured me that it's totally normal and okay, especially since my family and home life isn't lacking or suffering.  That made me feel a little better. I've always been a "sleeper."  I am not a morning person AT ALL and I LOVE naps, but it's gotten to be everyday and for several hours a day.  It's always when Lexi is at school and Ava is napping too.  Plus, my house is clean, things are done, etc.  See, here I go again trying to justify my guilt.  I guess if a professional is telling me that it's fine to nap as much as I need right now...then I need to enjoy it!

Along those lines, one of the reasons I nap so much is due to the grief that I feel on a daily basis.  It is very lonely without Hailey around all day, especially when Ava is napping.  Not only does the loneliness sometimes get overwhelming, but everything else does too.  Everything is overwhelming to me right now.  My mind is so full and anxious all the time, that my only way to escape it is to that's a good thing.  

One of the other things I've been seriously struggling with is feeling less needed and important.  Now, before I start explaining this, I have to make the disclaimer that I am ONLY referring to myself and my life...NO ONE else.  Everyone's normal and expectations for themselves are different, which is why I make that disclaimer.  I wouldn't want to offend anyone with the way I feel.  Now, that all being said, this is what I've discovered about myself:

After losing Hailey, I no longer feel "special" or "exceptional" as a mother.  I went from having three children, one with special needs, to only having two that are "normal."  Not to mention, a year ago, I had three children home most of the day (Lexi was in Kindergarten only half the day), and now I only have one child home all day, while my other is in school.  I went from being so needed and proud of myself for being able to handle three children, maintain a clean and orderly house, keep happy, healthy, well-behaved children, volunteer in Lexi's classroom once a week, take Hailey to therapy 3 times a week, take Lexi to dance, take care of a newborn, serve in my church as a young women's teacher, as well as, deal with all Hailey's special needs.  Now, not to boast or toot my own horn, but I was proud of myself.  I felt like I was a little above the "norm."  People would constantly compliment me on how they were amazed that I could do all that, and to be honest, I was amazed at myself sometimes too!

Now, as my therapist put it, (I'm going to call her Theresa...because she's seriously like Mother Theresa to me!) I'm trying to figure out an entirely new identity.  Wow...doesn't that sound so official and professional???  But it is so true.  I'm definitely busy in other ways, but not ways in which I feel like I'm needed and/or proud of myself.  I went from all that above, to having one child home with me, while we both sleep half the day away.  I realized that right now I really don't know who I am or what my role is.  

I guess I experienced something similar to this when I first had Lexi and decided to quit my job teaching to stay home with her.  I went from being a respected professional with a Master's Degree and job that required a lot of responsibility to being a stay at home mom.  Now again...I'm hoping that I don't offend anyone by saying that, because after working a full-time job for many years and then becoming a stay at home mom for the past 7 years, I will personally say that staying home with your children is the most difficult and exhausting job in the world.  It's just so disappointing that it's not nearly as respected in society as it should be. I still, after 7 years, want to tell people I'm a teacher, not a stay at home mom.  I want people to know that I went to college and got my Master's Degree and have three kids, and own a home, and, etc.  I don't know why I feel that that determines my self worth, but for some reason I struggle with that.  It's funny too, because I don't feel that determines anyone else's self worth, just my own!  For some reason, I look at other stay at home moms and wonder in amazement how they do it, but then look at myself and feel lazy and unimportant.  

Anyways, it took me six years and three children to finally feel like I knew, again, who I was, what my role in life and society was, and to become proud of it.  Now, it's all been taken away from me in an instant and I'm left sitting here wondering: What now?  Who am I now?  Am I now just part of the norm?  Should I still be proud to only be raising two children instead of three?  Do we have another baby to fill this gap and loneliness?  

In some ways, I guess life has gotten slightly easier in the fact that I'm not constantly having to worry about Hailey and taking care of her needs.  On the other hand, life has gotten immensely more difficult.  The constant grief and longing for my baby girl back and my old life back is way more to handle and deal with than worrying about Hailey's health and well being.  I miss her so much.  I miss who I was when she was here.  I miss our old family dynamics.  I miss seeing her interact with her sisters.  I miss being so frustrated with her, just to see her smile at me and have it all go away in an instant.  I miss feeling needed.  I miss feeling important.  I miss feeling above the norm.  I miss feeling proud of my family, my girls, my home, my life, myself.  

I guess some of that may sound very selfish of me, but that's how I feel.  Anyways, as I'm writing all this I just realized that I guess I do have more issues with my grief than I originally thought!  My girls and husband need me more now than ever!  My job at home is more important now than ever!  So off to work I go on determining a new normal and identity for myself.  Yuck...