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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Monday, October 25, 2010

Primary Program

Last Sunday was Lexi's Primary Program at church.  For those of you who aren't LDS, primary is basically Sunday school (and a bunch of fun, Gospel based activities) for children ages 3-12.  Once a year they have a Sunday service that is "run" by the children.  Each child gets a part, either a scripture, sentence, thought, talk, song, etc.  

This year Lexi was assigned to give a talk on how Jesus Christ is the Son of God and a God of Miracles.  (I'll attach it below for those who are interested in reading it.)  The day before we got her topic we received a children's video in the mail about how Jesus Christ raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, so we decided to focus on that miracle.  In the end of the talk we (I guess, more me than we) had written a small paragraph about how this miracle was so important to us because Hailey had passed away a year ago and we know that Christ has conquered death and Hailey will rise again one day as Lazarus did.  

Well when Lexi was practicing her talk last week she told me that she didn't want to read the part about Hailey.  Oh man, that hurt.  Of course, I didn't show it to Lexi because it was technically HER talk so it should be how she wanted it.  It took me a while to get over the sting of it and then I realized that when we had written her talk I kind of prodded my own agenda into it.  So, as much as it kind of hurt, I was proud of her for standing up for what she was comfortable with and making her talk, just that, HER talk.  (It's hard for me sometimes to not make "everything" about Hailey.)

I've made a very conscious effort to allow Lexi to grieve as she wants and feels comfortable doing so.  There are times that she doesn't like to talk about Hailey to others, such as in her talk or when I wanted to include a photo of her in our family photo on the first day of school.  Also, sometimes when I visit Hailey, Lexi will want to stay in the car.  I have accepted that and never make her feel guilty about it.  However, there are also times when she openly wants to share her sister with others.  Yesterday, she told me her teacher was teaching them about The Day Of The Dead that is celebrated in Mexico. Lexi asked her if she could bring a picture of Hailey in to share with the class, and bless her teacher's heart, she was happy to allow Lexi to do so!  Inside, I was thrilled that she was remembering her sister.

I guess this is all part of the grieving/learning process.  It's hard enough being a parent as it is, but when you have to parent a child who's been through a trauma (a trauma that you're also dealing with), that puts a whole new spin on things.  I've made it my mission to help Lexi grieve on her terms and within her own comfort zone.  She is a unique individual, as we all are, and needs the freedom to do her own thing, as we all do.

Anyways, back to Sunday's Primary Program.  I thought of Hailey and how she would also have been up there with all the other children giving her little part.  I thought I'd be okay with it because I still had Lexi to watch and be proud of, but ended up being completely caught off guard at how difficult it really was.  

Seeing the class that would have been Hailey's standing along the front (some proudly waving to their parents the whole time) just about ripped my heart right out of my chest.  I couldn't help but imagine her up there fidgeting and giggling and waving and then belting out her little part into the microphone as loud and proud as she could.  Every time the children started to sing, my stomach did somersaults and the tears started to flow.  Luckily, I didn't have any tissues with me so I held back quite a bit as to not make a scene! 

Then when Lexi got up to give her talk, the tears started to flow again.  This time because I was so proud of her and how brave and strong she is.  Hailey would have been in primary with her, yet she goes every week and sees all the other big sisters with their little sisters and she's all alone.  She stood up there and nailed her talk.  She was beautiful.  I can't even put into words how, for a small moment, I so strongly felt Hailey's presence, sitting in the pew right between Sean and me, watching her big sister, with a huge smile of pride on her precious little face, whispering to all her new spirit friends, "That's my big sister!" 

When Lexi was finished and came back to meet us she said, excitedly, to me, "Mom, I saw you crying all those tears of joy!"  Wow...that almost made them flow again.  I would never tell her that most of the tears I cried were full of pain and sorrow for the void of not getting to see both my girls up there together sharing their pure testimonies of Jesus Christ.  But as I thought about it for a minute, Lexi was partially right.  There were a few tears of joy as I thought of the fact that my little girl already knows everything those children were talking and singing about.  She's there!  She's there with her Savior, Jesus Christ, experiencing it all first hand.  Just as she said to her nursery teacher two days before she died, "Teacher, teacher..." To which her teacher replied, "Yes, Hailey?"  And Hailey replied back, "Teacher, me know Jesus."  And yes, yes she does.

The front cover of the program had the most beautiful picture of a little blonde girl tucked into Christ's bosom, just gazing up at him.  His arm was around her and I instantly thought...there's my Hailey.  She is here...she's represented right there on the program.  (I wish I took a picture of it to share.)  The tender mercies of the Lord are so wonderful!

The program...
(Doesn't that totally look like Hailey?)

Lexi's Original Talk
(She excluded the part in italics.)

Last week we got the video Lazarus Lives in the mail.  When I found out my talk was on how Jesus is the Son of God and a God of Miracles we decided to watch it for Family Home Evening.

In the video Jesus said that one day everyone who died will rise again from the grave, but we have to have faith.  Then Jesus’s friend Lazarus dies.  Lazarus’s sister is very sad and tells Jesus that she feels like death is so final and she would never see him again.  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me shall never die.” After Lazarus was dead for 4 days, Jesus came and made him rise from the dead.  It was a true miracle!

Jesus said, “I have done this so you can see that I have power over death.” 

This miracle is very important to me because my little sister passed away last year and I know that one day she will rise again like Lazarus.  I have faith that because Jesus is the Son of God He can perform miracles. 

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thoughts Unexpected

I just spent 5 days on the East Coast with my sister and was quite surprised at the unexpected thoughts that crept into my mind.  For those of you who don’t know me very well, I was born in Boston and lived about 20 minutes outside the city until I was 13.  Even though I’ve lived in California for the past 20 years now, over half my life, I still tell people I’m from Boston.  My heart resides there and I would LOVE to move back one day. 

Anyways, I go back to visit almost every year and every time I’m there I get on the whole moving back kick…looking at houses, cities, schools, etc.  I even considered picking up a few job applications for Sean even though he loves his job right now.  But, I’ll bet he could scoop a mean Clam Chowda if he tried!

So here I was this last week in Boston and as my sister and I drove from Cape Cod up to Lake Winnepausakee, New Hampshire (we had a cottage there as kids) visiting family and friends, we passed through some of the most adorable, quaint New England towns.  Of course, I could picture myself living in every darn one of them with my cute little family, until I thought of Hailey. 

If my dream of moving ever became a reality, Hailey would definitely come with us.  Sean and I agreed after she first died that if we ever moved more than 20 minutes away from where she is, we would have to take her with us.  The cost of moving her would automatically be something we would have to factor into our budget.  I visit her at least 5-6 times a week, clean her stone, bring her fresh flowers, change her flag and knick knacks, and give her little picture a kiss.  That is the place I feel closest to her because it still gives me something to take care of since I can no longer physically take care of her. 

While in Boston I not only shopped for little things to bring back for Lexi and Ava, but I also had to find something for Hailey.  I couldn’t come back with something for only two of my three girls.  I was so excited when I found a little yellow school bus that said Boston on it.  She LOVED “lellow” buses and every time we’d pass one in the car, she’d yell, “Mommy, “lellow” bus.  Me ride “lellow” bus!”  She was supposed to take one to preschool last year when she started, so I felt that she would really like it!  It will look so cute sitting at her little place next to her beautiful smiling face.

Anyways, back to my “moving kick,” as I call it.  As we drove through all those cute little towns I caught myself looking for cemeteries.  I first looked to see if I could even find one and if I did I couldn’t help but wonder if it would be nice enough for my baby girl to rest her precious, little body in.  (Her place right now is pretty hard to beat…it is absolutely gorgeous.) I pictured how her flat stone would fit in with all the others and how I would decorate it in the winter and dig it out of the snow when it’s forty degrees below zero outside.  I already have some cute ideas! 

Then, of course, I had to go a step further and think about what we would ever do if we sold our house.  (Now, let me just say, we aren’t planning on it right now, I just go through this kick every time I’m back there…but this is the first time I’ve really thought about it in detail since Hailey’s been gone.)  I wouldn’t have a problem leaving the house behind even though that’s the last place Hailey lived because I know that her body and spirit will go with us anywhere we go.  The thing I did wonder about is how we would tell people that our baby girl literally died in that house.  Yuck…it’s horrible to even think about.  Would that make no one want it?  Would it totally freak people out?  I feel like she would watch over that house carefully forever because it was her childhood home and she had so many great memories there, but I’m not so sure others would feel the same way.

So, I know I’m totally jumping the gun on all these thoughts, but my mind has a tendency to wander and way over think.  None of them are even remotely relevant to me at this point in time, but I always go through the “moving back kick” when I’m visiting and play it all out in my head.  It’s just that this time I was really caught off guard by all the new things I have to think about and consider now that I have a daughter who isn’t physically here with us anymore.  I refuse to ever let her go, physically or spiritually.  She is and will ALWAYS be a part of our family and will therefore be included in any big family decisions or events. 

I love and miss her so much.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hailey's Memorial Stone

I can't believe it took me this long to finally post a picture of Hailey's stone.  It took us a while to decide exactly what we wanted, but after a lot of "himming" and "hawwing" we figured it out.  We are so proud of how beautiful it turned out and feel that it represents Hailey in a way that will make all those who didn't know her, but pass by her place, feel her happy spirit.  

We had it placed on her one year "Heavenly Birthday" as we now call the day she died.  We felt like it was about time to give her a beautiful memorial representing her beautiful life, instead of the little, generic name plate the cemetery puts down.

I'm not going to lie though, it was hard.  First, officially seeing the physical stone finished and ready to be placed was quite emotional.  Of course, I know she's physically gone and not coming back any time too soon and I've completely accepted that, but seeing a "tombstone" with my baby girl's name on it just wasn't something I was completely prepared for.  Then when the man placed it into the ground even more emotions flooded in.  It is so beautiful, yet so final.  That was tough to bear.  

Since then, I've bought some granite cleaner and I go visit and clean her stone at least 4 to 5 times a week.  It's black and shiny so it gets super dirty, but it gives me something to take care of in Hailey's honor.  I don't get to take care of her anymore, so keeping her place looking clean and 'beau'ful' is my way of continuing to take care of her on a daily basis.  I have come to find joy in cleaning and shining her beautiful picture and memorial. I have come to find joy in bringing fresh flowers, plants, and cute decorations to her place.  I have made it my job to make sure that anyone who walks by her place will see it and hopefully think, "Wow, that's a very loved and missed little girl."  

Here are some pictures and descriptions of Hailey's memorial placement:
(You can click on them for a bigger view.)

Watching the man place her stone.
(We had balloons to celebrate her 1st Heavenly Birthday.)

There it is...super shiny.

Hailey's Place looking beau'ful on her 1st Heavenly Birthday.

A Family Photo

A tender moment between sisters.

The Official Stone
(See below for description)
  • Of course her name is arched along the top.
  • Below that it says, "Ooge."  That was one of Hailey's nicknames.
  • Above that, at the very top are some of her favorite things:  Animals, Swimming Lessons, Eating, Therapy (She went to physical, occupational, and speech therapy 5 hours a week and absolutely LOVED it!), Lay's Potato Chips (Of course!), and Nursery (That is her church nursery...she adored her nursery leader and that's where she said the Sunday before she died, "Teacher, me know Jesus.")
  • Of course below all that is her picture, dates of life, and website. (Sean really wanted that so I finally relented and I'm glad I did.  It's something that we are very proud of.)
  • On the bottom left is a picture of the Washington D.C. Mormon Temple.  (This is very significant because it's were Sean and I were sealed for eternity together and to our children.)
  • On the bottom right is an etching of a painting that Hailey's nursery leader did a couple days after she passed away.  It is Hailey holding Jesus's hand.  The quote underneath was one of her favorite things to say, which we felt was so fitting to go along with the photo.  The day she went to Heaven was a beau'ful day for her.
  • In the bottom middle is the original dime I found. They were able to sauder it into the stone!
So, that's the official memorial for our little Hailey Mayz.   It is absolutely perfect.