Thursday, July 19, 2012


July 19, 2012                                              2:06 p.m

Dear Brynna,

I am going to work again today from 4 pm until we close at 9 pm.  I really do love being a nurse, but working in a pediatric urgent care setting sure is emotionally difficult sometimes.

I always miss you.  Always.  But somehow that missing you is made sharper and more painful when I see all these other moms and dads with their adorable baby girls.  I find myself wondering what I could have done to deserve losing you when it seems everyone around us gets to “keep” their children.

I should know better, I know this.  From the outside I appear normal to so very many people.  My pain is internal and I have nothing to externally illustrate my suffering.  Unless people know me and know our story, I am just another mother, nurse, wife.  The same logic applies then, to all those “other” people that I assume are so blissfully unaware and happy in their lives.  The probability is that at least some of them are suffering or have suffered pain similar to ours, but they, like us, carry the burden of their heart internally.

I wish there were a way we could mark ourselves.  So that people would know we were grieving the loss of you, our only sweet baby girl.  And also so that others, being forced to walk this terrible road would be able to see us, and us them, and we could band together more easily, to do this together.

There are so many times that this fate seems so lonely.  Unmarked.  Unnoticed.  At times, unsupported.  All the while, feeling the pain of a lonely, broken heart.

I love you, sweet girl.  I miss you more than words can say. 


Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Story of the Red Heart Shaped Balloon

July 11, 2012                                                         10:52 a.m

The Story of the Red Heart Shaped Balloon

The story of the red, heart shaped balloon began on Valentine’s Day 2012, just a little over three months after Brynna passed away.  Jackson had preschool that day and when I picked him up in the afternoon he had a red heart shaped helium balloon that his teachers had given him. 

As we pulled into the driveway I was keeping in mind all the balloons we have lost while exiting the car, and I reminded Jack to keep a firm hold on the string.  Then I said, “or you could let it go and send it up to your sister for Valentine’s Day…”  Jack said, “no” he didn’t want to send it up, and he very carefully took it inside.  I have to admit, I was a tiny bit saddened that we weren’t sending Brynn a love note in the shape of a red heart that day, but I didn’t think much past it as I followed Jack into the house. 

After a few minutes inside, I remembered I needed to get something out of my car, so I headed back out to the front yard.  When I got done in my car and was walking back into the house, something in the sky caught my eye.  Off in the distance, passed the entrance to our neighborhood and out over some old farm land, a red heart shaped balloon was floating higher and higher into the sky.  A balloon exactly like the one I was secretly wishing Jack would send up to his sister.  I remember thinking, “what are the chances that a balloon exactly like his, would be floating up in my line of vision at exactly the time I went out to my car?”  It made me smile and I thought, “well Brynn, you’re getting your balloon after all.”

After just a few short hours in our house, Jack’s balloon was lost to the very upper reaches of our two story tall entryway near the front door.  As so many other balloons in our house had done, this one ended up far out of arm’s reach, and we just had to wait for it to lose enough helium and float back down.

Normally this happens within days, sometimes weeks….but not this balloon.  Jack’s heart shaped red balloon stayed up there the rest of February, all of March, and all of April without losing any helium at all.  Never sinking an inch.

Near the beginning of May, our broken family was planning a trip to California for my brother Conner’s wedding.  I was happy to be going to share in the joy of the start of Conner and Cassie’s new life, but I was emotionally run down and exhausted from the grief of losing our daughter.  I had very mixed feelings about being away from the house for a week.  I felt like I was going to miss Brynn even more by not being within easy access of her room or her ashes.  Strange emotion to have, I know, but this is a grieving mom's reality.

As we left for the airport early in the morning, I walked over to the piano where her ashes rest, and kissed her urn goodbye telling her we’d be back soon.  As I walked out the door, laden with luggage and very sleepy eyed boys, I passed under the still perfectly full and floating balloon.

Our trip to California had many very good moments, but it also came with several very significant low ones.  We took the boys to Disneyland three times while we were there, and that was incredibly difficult.  The last time I had been in Disneyland, I was pregnant with Brynna.  

The wedding was beautiful, but also very difficult emotionally.  I was finding it very hard to gear up to be happy on the outside when on the inside I was so very broken.  A few days before it was time to come home, I was spent emotionally.  I broke down to Steven and I broke down to my mom.  I just needed to be home, “closer” to my daughter.  I also knew though, after having done the grief thing for several months, that there was bound to be a very low stretch of time once we got home where the permanence of our situation was going to wash back over me.  It always happened after being away.  Always.

When we finally walked through the door late that Tuesday night, there in front of the piano, floating at the exact same level as Brynna’s urn, was the red, heart shaped balloon.  Still appearing inflated, the balloon had descended from it’s corner in our entryway after 3 long months, and was there to greet me when I needed it most. 

I immediately felt like Brynn was there with us.  I felt she was welcoming us home, and I was so happy to see her.

As I expected, the next day was awful.  Steven had returned to work and the boys were all at school.  It was all I could do to stand upright.  I was overcome with sadness and despair as I realized, for what seemed the millionth time, that our daughter, our sweet girl, was gone.  Our house was too quiet.  It wasn’t supposed to be this way….

Sometime in the afternoon, after soaking my pillow with thousands of salty tears, I decided to get in the shower, and “wash the sad off.”  Like I had done so many times before, I sat on the built in seat in our shower, and let the hot water run over my head.  I cried.  I sobbed.  I moaned.  And then I stood up and rinsed it all off.

When I stepped out of the shower and reached for my towel, something caught my eye.  There, just outside the bathroom door, a flight of stairs up from where it had been the night before, and a bit more deflated, floating right at the height that a toddler might hold it, was the red heart shaped balloon. 

My little girl was there again.  Telling me she was with me and comforting my broken heart. 

Well this time, I KISSED that red heart shaped balloon and I said, “I see you.  Thank you.”

In one of the grief groups we go to, one of the bereaved fathers has said that he believes in these “signs”.  He says, if we believe them to be a sign of love, or some comfort from beyond, then that is enough.  It is what we need it to be.  It cannot be explained any more or less than that.  If we need it, and we see it, and it helps, than that is the purpose.

I believe him.

(a picture of the balloon the day it appeared in my room after my shower)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Some news from home...

July 11, 2012                                                     10:12  a.m

Dear Brynna,

Hi sweet girl.  I miss you.  I am sorry I haven’t written to you in over a week, I have been in kind of a slump where writing is concerned.  I feel like there is so much going on, but I have not been able to muster the energy to get it down on paper.

Here goes….

We spent the 4th of July with our friends the Hintons in LaConner.  We have done the 4th with them since I was a little girl, and it is always wonderful to get together each year. 

We headed up to Skagit County in the morning, and went to your Uncle Trent and Auntie Andrea’s house first.  Grandma and Grandpa were with us.  After just a short morning visit, Daddy and I took your brothers to the LaConner 4th of July Parade.  It is always relatively short (not a long time having to sit in the hot sun) and there is always a TON of candy thrown to the kids lining the street.  Here’s a picture of your brothers waiting to “trick or treat 4th of July style”:

After the parade, we had some time left before it was time to head to John and Nancy’s house, so we walked around the town of LaConner.   Aidan had “blown out” his flip flop so we stopped at the local shoe store and got him a new pair.  We also got some ice cream (YUMMY) and again, your brothers posed:

At a little before 1 p.m, we headed to the Hinton’s where we spent the rest of the day with good friends and family, eating good food, playing by the water and playing games.  Daddy had to work the next day so we headed home that night and watched fireworks all along the way.

Of course the entire time we were there, we thought of you and how different it would be if you had been there with us.  You were supposed to be there with us…

On, July 6th your brother Jack turned 5 years old.  I cannot believe he is already 5!!  Daddy and I had a commitment to attend a friend’s wedding that night, so we spent the day celebrating Jack’s birthday, and promised him we will do something big this coming weekend (we are planning a family trip to Enchanted Village and Wild Waves).  I took them out to lunch and frozen yogurt and we also went to Target so Jackson could pick out a toy to get him through til he opens his presents this weekend. 

That night, Daddy and I headed to Chehalis to attend my friend Corie’s wedding.  Corie and I have known each other since high school, and there is a group of four women (myself included) that have continued to stay in touch and get together at least a couple of times a year to visit.  It was a beautiful wedding and there were several people there from Daddy’s and my high school that we had not seen in many years. 

It was also the first time since you passed away that I felt light enough to actually make my way onto the dance floor and let loose a bit.  It felt good.  It felt good to just be with Daddy, smiling and having a good time.  I feel safe when I am with him.

As we were leaving, Corie’s younger sister, whom I don’t really know all that well, told me she thinks of us often and reads my blog.  She mentioned you and that her heart breaks for our loss.  I was so very moved by the fact that she took the moment to talk to us directly like that.  So many people that we know very well have said nothing, and here she was, hardly knowing us, and she said the only thing that can be said…that she thinks of you, and of us, and she is sorry.  It meant so very much!!  Thank you, Kelly.  Thank you from the bottom of our broken hearts.

The last several days have been sunny and warm which seems to help heal my heart a little bit.  It is nice to be able to get outside and sit in the light of the sun.  I feel closer to you when I am able to do that.

A couple of days ago, Colton and Aidan were at their friend Dylan’s house, and I was outside in the backyard with Jackson.  He was playing in the pool we have set up and I was sitting on a lounge chair with my feet up.  I think I was playing a game on my phone, when all of a sudden Jack said to me, “Mom, you know Brynna is right there with you right now?”  It is not uncommon when I am sad or crying for any of your brothers to tell me that you are with me, but in that moment I was not sad or crying and he just offered it up, out of the blue.  I replied how wonderful it was that he felt you were there, and I asked him where you were and what you were doing.  He replied, “she is sitting there right by your feet….playing on God’s phone.”  I laughed out loud.  He is so sweet.  He saw me playing on my phone and figured you would be wanting to do the same.

I told Daddy the story and he felt a bit sad.  He said he wished you really were there, trying to touch and push buttons on my phone and getting it all wet with your slobber.  :o)

Yesterday, I took your brothers to pick strawberries at a local U-pick field.  We had never done that together before and I thought it would be fun to pick berries and then make freezer jam.  Daddy was going to try to join us, but he wasn’t able to get off of work in time.  The boys had a lot of fun and we got enough to make 2 big batches of jam.  I also bought some fresh raspberries to make raspberry jam.  It turned out very well.

We went from the berry field to dinner.  Daddy met us at a local Mexican restaurant and we had dinner together.  The waiter seated us at a large wooden table with 3 chairs on each side.  Aidan said, as soon as we sat down, that the table would be the perfect size if you were there with us…

We miss you all the time, baby girl.  In everything we do, we miss you.

I love you very much, and I hope you know that even if I am not writing you every day, I am thinking of you hundreds of times every day.  I carry you with me everywhere, all the time.

Hugs and kisses,

Sunday, July 1, 2012

8 Months Out, and Only a Lifetime Yet to Go...

How can this be?  How can eight months have passed by already?  Then again, how can it only have been eight months?  Is time ever going to start making sense again?

Everybody around here has been commenting how cold and rainy the weather has been, and how they "can't believe it's June" (now July).  People were even calling it "June-uary" because it was so gross out.  But, I haven't really noticed it much at all, and if I have, I haven't really been surprised by the weather, because in my head, I am still kind of stuck mentally in October.

Eight months already.  Only eight months.

I have cried enough tears to create my own ocean of sorrow, yet I know there are many more to come.  I have dropped to my knees in despair more times than I can count, and curled up into a tiny ball in my closet trying so hard, over and over again in my head to make some sense of this awful reality.  Yet, an explanation, a reason, a cause, a "purpose", eludes me.

Eight months already.  Only eight months.

I miss our daughter greatly.  So much greater than words can express.  So much more than the distance between us right now.

There are days that are more "do-able" than others.  I wouldn't go so far to say that there are "good" days.  She crosses my mind every day, a million times a day.  Sometimes, I can think about her and look at her picture and then go about what I was doing, and then other times, I am brought down to the ground again, experiencing a grief like none other.  This is not natural.  This is not the way "it is supposed to be".  We are not "supposed" to have to only be able to love our children in our hearts and our minds.  We are "supposed" to be able to touch them, kiss them, bathe them, teach them, get irritated by them, remember why we love them as we do, and then do it all over again, day in and day out.

For eight months, I have been seeing Brynna grow up.  I have seen her smile, heard her cry, heard her laugh, watched her roll over, sit up, crawl, try to stand, drink from a bottle, try "real" food.  But I have seen it all in my head.  Only in my head.  And I have felt the hurt in my heart as I remember with each passing day that that is the only place I will see her.  Only in my head.  Forever in my heart.

Eight months already.  Only eight months.  And still a lifetime yet to go.