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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Question #7

Question #7 will be the final question, unless anyone out there has more.  :-)   This question came via email with the other anonymous question, so I have no idea who it is from.  The question was "We know you in terms of being Gracie's mom, but who else are you?  Tell us some fun and random facts about yourself."  

Okay...some fun and random facts....  For those who have been reading here for a while, this may be somewhat of a repeat, as I did a weekly list similar to this long ago.  But here is a new list pulled off the top of my head...
  • I am a wife to my soul mate, Jeff.  We have been married for 2 years, but together for 16.  
  • I am mama to a bunch of 'fur' babies...we have 5 cats and 2 dogs at home; my office houses 2 cockatiels and a 180 gallon salt water aquarium.  
  • I am a physical therapist - I do special needs pediatrics in a school based / Early Intervention based setting, and I also do outpatient orthopedics.  I am my own boss, with 2 other employees; some days it was the best thing I ever did, some days not so much.
  • I have been a firefighter for 15  years.  (It's what I do in my 'spare' time.)  In that time I have worked my way up to the rank of Deputy Chief within my department.  
  • I also do a lot in the realm of technical rescue.  I am part of PA's regional Urban Search and Rescue team, filling HazMat Specialist, Rescue Specialist and Technical Search Specialist slots.  In 2007 I received the state's Rescue Technician of the Year award.  
  •  I hate drama, and I very quickly grow intolerant of stupid, childish, petty B.S.
  • I hate cleaning the bathroom and washing dishes.  :-)   I manage to soak myself every time I do dishes, and I cannot wait until we remodel the kitchen in a few years so I can buy a dishwasher!!!  
  • I enjoy photography, softball, cooking/baking and sewing, although I rarely have time for any of them.  
  • I enjoy hiking, but don't do nearly enough of it.  I would like to try my hand at kayaking, but we just keep running out of time.  
  • I am a life long New York Yankee fan (please don't hold it against me), but really couldn't care less about most other sports. 
  • I love to travel.  I am hoping to go to Namibia, Africa in the spring to see my sister, who is there until December 2011 with the Peace Corps. 

And the Winner is....

I apologize for the delay in getting this posted...I am just behind.  Since I had entry comments across a few different posts, I put each person's name in a hat (well, a bowl) and drew the winner that way.  JamieW is the winner of the Midnight Orange gift certificate.

Jamie, please shoot me an email at and I will let you know how to use the gift certificate.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Grief Ramblings

As I type this, funeral services for a 21 year old Marine from my area, who was killed a week and a half ago in the Middle East, are underway.  Obviously, this is not something unique to the area in which I live, as all regions of this country have dealt with this kind of loss over the last several years.  When it happens in your area, it is all you see and hear from the local news outlets, and as a result, it's impossible to not think about the loss of that human life. 

I have spent a considerable amount of time in the car this week, which has given my brain ample opportunity to run.  Although I know many people who know this young man's family, I do not know them personally.  Nonetheless, I have thought about his parents and entire family quite a bit.  There is a heavy tradition of USMC service in this young man's family, but he is the family's first ever casualty.  I keep thinking about how awful this must be for the entire family.  I keep thinking about the spotlight that the family suddenly finds themselves in.  I think about the 81 mile procession to bring his body from the airport to the funeral home.  I think about the unnecessary stress and angst added to today's services by the local representation from the West.boro Bap.tist Chu.rch.  I think about the coming weeks and months and wonder what they will be like for this family.  Will people still be there to offer support or will the channels of support suddenly grow very dim as people around resume their normal routines?

I think about what this family has done and lost.  They sent their son off to war, as many families across this country have done, with the understanding that he might not return.  The understanding that he might not return.  While this must certainly be every military parent's fear, so many of them never truly expect to be the ones to someday walk in these shoes.  They will forever mourn the person that they have known, loved and lost.  They will mourn what was unfairly taken away from them.  Perhaps they will also mourn the things that he will never do or experience, as they are things that they will never experience with, marriage, children. 

I can't help but think about this in relation to my own grief.  There is certainly no comparison.  Ultimately, when it is all boiled down, I am angry because something was unfairly taken away from me and I mourn the things that we will never experience with our daughter.  Ultimately, that is all I have to mourn...a lifetime of lost love and experiences.  In losing that lifetime of love and experiences, sometimes I feel like I have lost such a huge portion of my world...and then I look around at what others have lost.  While it doesn't minimize my loss or make me feel better, it certainly helps me to keep things in perspective and remember a few things.  It helps me to remember that grief is unique to every person and circumstance, and no matter how much I am suffering and grieving, there are always people out there whose loss will strike them in even more profound ways than losing Gracie has struck me.  It helps me to remember that, even though nothing will ever replace Gracie, there is still much hope for our family to find and experience with Gracie's siblings the things that we will never experience with her.

I wish much love and support for this young man's family in the coming weeks and months.  I pray that they are able to find peace, strength and healing as they begin this long journey.  

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Time is Almost Up

I will be picking the winner for the $25 gift certificate to The Midnight Orange either tonight or tomorrow night.  Go to this post to register.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Gracie's Birthday Memorial

So as I expected, yesterday came and went, and it was not nearly as bad for me as the previous few days.  Jeff and I both found, over the course of the entire weekend, that down time was the killer.  As long as we were busy and focused, and not allowing ourselves to psychologically travel to the 'dark side', things were okay.  If we were not busy or otherwise occupied, it was an ugly scene.  The good news is that my ugly scenes and Jeff's ugly scenes did not come at the same time, much the same as during the early grieving process, and we were able to help the other work through to a somewhat better place.  I would like to extend thanks to those who sent emails, left comments here or sent messages via FB to offer thoughts and supports over the weekend.  It means to much to know that people are thinking about us.  

When I woke up yesterday morning, one of the first things I thought was actually not specifically about Gracie, but that exactly one year ago from that moment, my husband was still trying to sleep in the hospital cot that looked and sounded like a bird nest.  Seriously.  It dipped WAY down in the middle and was, of course, lined with a plastic cover for sanitation purposes.  He sank way in and every time he moved, it sounded like he was laying in a pile of leaves.  :-P   It provided a little bit of comic relief when we needed it, and turned out to be one of the first thoughts in my head this morning.

We had a picnic-style dinner with our parents and Jeff's brothers and their families last evening.  (My sister's cats stood in for her since the commute back from Namibia was not feasible...)  Between dinner and cake we went to the cemetery to release balloons.  I blew up the balloons that I had and then put the names and dates on them for some of Gracie's angel friends.  (I was limited in balloons, so I was limited in the number of babies.  I apologize if I did not get yours...)  We left the other side of the balloons blank for our family to write messages to Gracie.


The weather forecast for the day was mostly cloudy with the chance of showers and thunder storms all day, but it was absolutely beautiful when we went to the cemetery.  When we got there, there was a bag waiting for us that contained a birthday card, a tiara and a wand for Gracie.  The card was not signed and we have no idea who left them for her, but it was such a nice surprise.

After the cemetery we headed back for some cake and homemade ice cream.  I think the homemade ice cream is going to be my hubby's tradition for each birthday party for our children from this point forward.  He had a great time with it!  Jeff's cousin did Gracie's cake.  I really had no idea what to ask her for, so I just gave her a list of generalities (with regard to decorations) and this is what she came up with for us...  It was perfect (tasty, too) and we loved it!!

All in all, it was a decent day, but it didn't come close to the kind of celebration that we should have been planning for Gracie.  I worry that we will not be able to honor her this way every year, and I worry that if that is the case, that we will feel an overwhelming sense of letting her down.  I suppose that it's something we will have to deal with one year at a time...I just hope that I am wrong, and that we will be able to do something special for her every year to outwardly signify how much she will always mean.  

So, that was Gracie's birthday in a nutshell.  The days leading into it were really much worse than yesterday...which is what I was expecting.  But we made it through, still standing.

I would like to ask that Annette, Acacia's mom, and Bryston's mom (Jen) drop me an email (sand0113 at gmail dot com) so I have your email address...I have pictures to send to you...  Thanks so much!   Wishing you all a peaceful week!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Gracie's Cupcake

Many thanks to Crystal Theresa at Calvin's Cupcakes for sending Gracie's cupcake just in time for her birthday.

More to come about Gracie's birthday in the next couple of days...

Question #6

The sixth question in celebration of 100 posts comes from Alyssa's mom, Ann.  She asked "How will you bring Gracie into Beana's life?" 

I think that it will be relatively easy to make sure that our children yet to come know that Gracie existed, and how much she was loved.  Gracie has a wall in our living room - right now it's just her shelf, but we also have a print of her Forever Remembered photo collage to get framed and the new photo board that was given to us last week to put up.  So she will be here for them to see.  They will always be part of whatever we might do in the future to honor her - our hospital's memory walk, the March of Dimes walk, holiday/birthday traditions, etc. 

I think that birth order probably has a lot to do with how lost babies are integrated into families.  When the lost baby is not the first born, there are often older children waiting with anticipation for the arrival of the new sibling.  When that sibling never comes home, they live the loss.  They may not understand at that moment, but it's part of their lives from day one.  I think it's a little different when the lost baby is the first born, since the younger siblings have obviously not lived through the anticipation, excitement and loss.  I have to admit, that I am somewhat worried about creating a complex for Beana.  Gracie will always be our first born, but Beana will 'functionally' be our oldest child.  I don't want Beana (or any of our children) to ever feel like she is living in Gracie's I anticipate that we will have to work hard to find a balance between maintaining Gracie's memory as part of our family dynamics and not making the rest of the kids feel like they are second rate.  It kind of makes me wonder how the question of number of children and birth order will be answered in 10 years.  Beana is obviously not our first born or oldest, but functionally, in the eyes of much of the world, she will be (again, that potential complex comes into play).  That is definitely not something we can answer or figure out now...but certainly something to think about...

But for now, we will maintain Gracie's wall, and our children will know and understand that the baby in the pictures is their older sister.  How everything else will unfold remains to be seen.