Monday, September 26, 2011


Well, autumn may not have made it's way down to Southwest Louisiana quite yet, but the temperatures have allowed us to go outside for more than 30 seconds at a time without the risk of melting.
When we took a blanket outside to lie down and watch the clouds, Gianna put her hands behind her head and sighed,
"Ahhhh......the sounds of nature."
(I laughed so hard I could hardly catch my breath.  I asked where she heard that before.  "Peppa Pig," she said, "when they were camping.")
Some of precious friends came to visit and spent some time with Gianna.
She was eating it up.
And Gianna took great joy in showing (and pulling apart) lovebugs for Christa.  (I'm beginning to think that the lovebugs are a plague - not a season. How HORRIBLE are they this year?!)
Playing with her sandtable - with pink sand. Yes, they make pink sand.
(Wal-mart garden section. They have blue too!)
I just love these pictures of her on the swing.
Looking forward to cooler temps and much more time outdoors.
Have a good fall y'all!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ecclesiastes 3:4

"...there is a time to mourn and a time to dance...."
Ecclesiastes 3:4
And sometimes those times overlap.
 Just a couple of weeks after her daddy died...
 ...Gianna began her Ballet Classes! 
I have no words to express how absolutely ADORABLE these little 3 and 4 year olds are in their pink leotards and tights and teeny tiny ballet shoes. 
 She began classes at the Lake Charles Dance Academy which is a brand new studio open by a precious friend of mine.  We feel so grateful for this wonderful experience and welcomed diversion from our grief!
The studio is right by the cemetery where Iain is buried, so we go afterwards to show Daddy his little ballerina, have a chat with him and say some prayers.
It's becoming a nice little ritual for us.
I can say with great certainty that her Daddy is full of love and pride for his little dancer.
(I know her Mommy is.)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Big Grief for a Little Girl

As a I child I was sort of sheltered from death ~ and I grew up with huge fears about death because of it.  I vowed to introduce the concept early to my children and make sure they knew it was a natural part of life.  Gianna was three weeks old when I took her to the funeral home for the first time.  She's probably been at least 25 times since then. It became a little ministry for her. She loves to pray for the deceased and her favorite thing is to give them blessings (making the sign of the cross on their forehead.)  She has always been a little light for the grieving family members - giving hugs, turning on her charm and even performing. She often spoke of heaven and the people we knew who were there.
When I walked in my parents home to tell them and Gianna of Iain's tragic death, I didn't beat around the bush.  There is no sugar-coating death. (Well, maybe there is - but I don't see what good it does.)  I told her Daddy got very sick and died. She knew about heaven, about the funeral home, about caskets - it was all part of her vernacular. I told her that we were going to be very sad for a very long time...and that would be okay.  I told her that God would help us, but we couldn't see Daddy anymore here and he couldn't live with us anymore since he'd be in heaven. Oh, how I hated telling her that.
 Daily conversations help clarify this reality - for both of us.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Most days have a 'normal' feel to them.  I'm not sure how that's even possible.  At least once a day, I make sure something special is planned just for Gianna. It helps to have something to look forward to.
It might be as simple as playing outside in this amazing weather.
Or finally enjoying the parks as the weather cools a bit...
Or picking satsumas from our tree... 
Or enjoying a play date...

Sometimes there are activities for her all day long.
But there's always at least one thing that's fun and special.

* * * * * * *
Two weeks after Iain's death, we stayed in town with my parents to make life a little easier for us. We've been back home in the Bluff for three weeks now and settling back into some semblance of normalcy.  It's actually been good to be home. Gianna is happy to be in her space.  It's good to have lots of reminders of Daddy around.....and sometimes really sad.

* * * * * * *

Overall, Gianna has been a gem these last five weeks.  She is affected by grief much of the same way I am. 
*  She's so tired, but dreads going to sleep. (Being alone with thoughts is a frightening thing while grieving.) 
*  She fell out of bed a half dozen times the first ten days. (Probably because her sleep was so fitful.)
* Her appetite is only now starting to return.  Food is not terribly interesting to her these days.
*  She melts down for the smallest things - and then falls apart into heartbreaking sobs.  Every single disappointment, frustration, sadness or irritation is exacerbated by Iain's death. (For both of us.)
*  She refuses to take a nap at my mom's house. The day Iain died she had just woken from her nap when I came to share the horrible news.  She's made that association and even asked, "Did Daddy die because I was at MeMaw's house?"  God bless my very smart, broken-hearted child.
*  She was very angry at me the first few weeks and went nuts every time I showed signs of sadness.  She really acted out (or tried to) the first few weeks.  There was just no other safe place to direct her anger - than toward me.  That's part of the toughest part of this ordeal.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know I keep a Jelly Book where I record many of the great things Gianna says and does.  I suppose this could be considered the grief edition:

Gianna talks about him a lot.  A few days after he died while she was giving us one of her 'live concerts' with her guitar in tow - I mentioned that I bet Daddy was in heaven telling all the people,
"Would you just look at my baby girl!  She is amazing! Yep, that's my Monkey-Doo!"
She was intrigued by that comment and it began an interesting occurrence...

Regularly (most often when we're in the car) she asks me,
"What do you think Daddy is saying to me right now?"
Early on she said, "You be Daddy."
So, I lower my voice and tell her what I think Iain might be saying.
G: Oh Daddy, I miss you so much.
Me as Daddy:  Oh, sweetheart, I'm really really close to you.  I miss you too, but I'm watching over you from heaven.
G:  Daddy I laid on you and kissed you and talked to you (at the funeral home.)
Me as Daddy:  I know, sweet girl, I remember everything. I hear you every time you talk to me.
G:  Daddy, I whispered to you to wake up.
Me as Daddy: Oh I know.  I wish I could have woken up for you - but now I have to love you from heaven.
G:  Can you give me hugs and kisses.
Me as Daddy: Oh yes. I do all the time.  We call them heaven hugs and heaven kisses.
G: Daddy, can you please love Mommy big big.  She is really really sad.
Me as Daddy:  (Almost not able to speak)  Oh yes, I promise I will always love your Mommy in a very special way.
G:  You live in my heart, Daddy.
Me as Daddy: You live in my heart too, Gianna  I love you so much.
G: I love you big much too Daddy.

Sometimes the conversations go on for 20 minutes.
Sometimes she tells him what she's been doing. Sometimes she asks him big questions.  Sometimes she shares her love and longing. Sometimes she even shares her sadness and anger.
And sometimes, I am choking back tears and can hardly answer her.
Thank God this precious child is still communicating with and loving her Daddy.
I am sure he is beyond proud.
I know I am.

* * * * * * *
She comes to be fairly often with tears spilling from her eyes saying,
"Mommy, my heart is brokeeen."

* * * * * * * *
G:  Oh Mommy, my drips keep coming out. (tears)
Me:  I know, my love, but that's how God helps to heal our broken hearts.  Our tears help release some of the sad from our hearts.
G:  But my sad won't stop leaking out.
(Neither will mine, sweet girl.)

* * * * * * *
Gianna asked the other night if she could have some medicine before bed.
I asked her why she needed medicine.
"To take my sad away." she replied.

* * * * * * *
Tonight during prayer she asked me if I loved her.
"Oh yes! My heart is so FULL of love for you it feels like it will burst!"
"Oh," she said, "My heart is full of sad."

* * * * * * *
Be assured that, overall, this precious child is doing remarkably well....all things considered.

She is my sunshine and my amazing grace.
We laugh a lot and have a lot of 'normal' moments sprinkled throughout our grief.
We continue to ride on the prayers of SO MANY people.
I'm certain those prayers are the reason I'm able to get out of bed every morning and function with some sort of regularity.....even with grace and peace. There is no explanation, but prayer!
Thank you to all you prayer warriors who continue to lift us up.
I am so very grateful.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday Morning Reminders

Sunday mornings are different now.
This morning as I came from brushing my teeth and saw my bed...
It made me sad.
It was a strong reminder that he is not here - and I am not married.
As an adult, I was single for much longer than I was married.
I was used to sleeping alone in a big bed.
I'll get used to it again.
It's a different kind of empty now.
 It is sad to only make half a bed.
Easier - but sad.

* * * * * * * * *

Neither Iain and I were huge coffeee drinkers, but we enjoyed a cup or two on the weekends.
Whoever was up first would make coffee for both of us.
One little mug without it's partner is just another reminder....
...this is real.
He is not coming back.

* * * * * * * * *
On this tenth anniversary of 9/11 - there are lots of remembrances of loss and sadness.
I join my prayers with those who remain - for those who have gone before us in tragic ways - and in quiet ways.

Friday, September 09, 2011

I'd rather have...

"I'd rather have thirty minutes of wonderful, than a lifetime of nothing special."  
Shelby, Steel Magnolias

Our history together only spanned nine years.
Our marriage - seven.
Too short, indeed.
But thankfully, our love is for an eternity.

* * * * * * *

At some point after thirty, I began to make peace with the fact that I might be single for the rest of my life.  I didn't love the idea - but I began to accept that possibility.  When I was thirty-five - I met Iain and didn't marry him til I was thirty seven.  If I knew then what I know now - and if I realized that I would only have a brief chapter of my life with him -- I still would have wholeheartedly done it again.  My life together with him was blessed, full, adventurous, challenging and joyful.  I fully embrace that quote from Steel Magnolias.  Thirty minutes of wonderful is, indeed, better than a lifetime of nothing special.  I have been gifted with a beautiful life with the man who was far more wonderful that my mind would have ever been able to conceive.  Even in our darkest moments, I knew what we had was special.  Our life together was short - but I am SO very grateful for every piece of it. This blessed marriage also gave us the amazing gift of our precious daughter. 

Reaching for Daddy's hand. 
Pure gift.

* * * * * * * * *
Four years ago, as we prepared to enter the adoption process, we were asked to compile an Adoption Profile which birth mothers would be able to look at as they chose adoptive parents for their babies. I wanted to include the pages that Iain and I wrote describing each other. 
Here is the one I wrote about Iain:

And here is the one Iain wrote about me.
(I feel so blessed to have these words from his heart.)

* * * * * * *
And just for good measure, I'll throw in the rest of the profile - for those who might be interested.

There are a couple more pages that I've yet to locate....but you get the jist.
We were blessed.
We are blessed.
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