28 July 2011

The Good Heart


Thinking, but choosing not to feel, cold-hearted men live at a frantic pace, in a desperate pursuit of whatever it is they think they are missing in life. With no time for meditation, prayer, introspection, or reflection, they live as a dog, forever, chasing its tail. Remember one and all, the head is for getting and the heart is for giving. (The Good Heart, pg 43, by James Michael Pratt)

This is how I’ve been living the past couple of weeks, at a frantic pace, running here and there with my kids and my family, trying to make sure that everyone else needs are met, but not taking time for the things that matter most to me. Even when I was up late into the night, because I needed time to myself, I wasn’t using the time wisely, unless playing computer games until 4am is considered a wise use of my time.

At first I didn’t think that this part of the description fit, but the more I think about it, maybe it does, on some level.

“Cold-hearted men . . . are not lost be delusional and hyper-rational, telling themselves there is no God; that there is no personal responsibility for their actions. Lacking conscience and convinced the brain does all the work, these poor souls make decisions based only on ‘I, me, and mine,’ injuring others as they do.”

Outwardly I’ve never said, “There is no God” because I truly believe that I have a rock-solid belief in God, and in the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but . . . I have been acting, in my personal unseen life as if there is no God. I say this because my reading of the Book of Mormon has been almost non-existent, my prayers have been insincere and infrequent, daily devotionals with my kids have been irregular and lacking, and my introspective moments have mostly been framed around the writing of a blog post that hopefully will help to heal my soul and touch the lives of others as well.

I have, however, been thinking a lot about myself, trying to deal with my grief, and all the other duties that come with the calling of Mother. In this delusional state I have injured others, and claimed that they have injured me, and that I was only protecting myself. During one of currently rare family scripture studies this week we read this verse,

3 Nephi 6:13

Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and apersecution and all manner of bafflictions, and would not turn and crevile again, but were humble and penitent before God.

Turn the other cheek. Be Humble. What does penitent mean? Can I do this?

24 July 2011

Where’s My Elephant

I could spend an hour and write something very truthful and emotional, but instead I think I’ll quickly tell a cute story. MaryAnn loves to play with the dog pieces from our game, Walk the Dogs. She lines them up, then knows them down, throws them on the floor, then picks them up. Yesterday she was playing with them, and kept asking, in her cute 3 year old, sometimes hard to understand voice, “Where’s my elephant.” Of course, she usually knew where it was, because she had hidden it, sometimes in the middle of the dogs, sometimes in the other room.

Maybe that is way I woke up this morning thinking about this poem, and it has been on my mind all day long.

I’ve seen several different endings to this poem – but I think I will leave those for you to seek out.

While searching for the poem I also found this great article exploring the poem in more detail in the Hospice of the Piedmont’s Living with Loss Newsletter. Summer 2011.

I have an elephant, do you?

There’s an Elephant in the Room
by Terry Kettering

There’s an elephant in the room.
It is large and squatting
so it is hard to get around it.

Yet we squeeze by with,
“How are you?” and “I’m fine.”
and a thousand other forms of
trivial chatter.

We talk about everything else –
except the elephant in the room.

We all know it is there.
We are thinking about the elephant as we talk together.
It is constantly on our minds.

For, you see, it is a very big elephant.
It has hurt us all, but we do not talk about
the elephant in the room.

18 July 2011

This Tooth’s for Holly.

My face is numb, I’m afraid of it not being numb, that’s not entirely accurate, I’m afraid of the process of getting from the present feeling of numbness to the normal state where I am not aware of my face. Pain is in the process.

My regularly scheduled dental appointment was last week. It had been the 6 months since I had last seen my dentist and gotten a exceptional checkup with no cavities.A lot had changed in the last 6 months though and I knew going in that I had at least one tooth that had a cavity. Sitting in the dentist chair getting my teeth examined I finally realized why I was so upset about this dental visit. Hormones. Pregnancy Hormones to be exact. For some reason the hormones involved in pregnancy seem to wreck havoc on teeth.

I was no longer pregnant, and the dentist never even knew that I was pregnant, yet in my teeth was the evidence of my pregnancy and I had to tell the dentist about Holly’s brief existence. It’s not easy to talk about death of loved one with those I know and love, but summoning the words and courage to tell people, close friends or virtual strangers, of the death of my baby is so difficult. Knowing that it is going to be a shock, and then watching their reaction, and then their insecurity in how to react is emotionally draining.

I was a little more prepared today – a week removed from the discovery of the physical damage – and another week of emotional healing  - for the pregnancy made the experience fairly normal for a restorative dental visit.

The analogy is poignant though,  Pregnancy has changed me, and my family, both physically and emotionally.Immediately following the discovery of the death of our unborn baby we were numb. We knew that because of the faith we have in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and of his loving atonement for us, for his death and resurrection we will have the opportunity to someday be with our babies again. This faith is what carries us through the trial, the numbness, the process of returning to a new normalcy. However, right now we are in the midst of the pain.

We are coming out of the numbness, and the pain is manifesting itself in outbursts of anger towards each other. In avoidance of time together, in late nights, in excessive sleeping in, and extreme business so that we can avoid our thoughts, our feelings, or emotions. Yet they are still there, and if we don’t deal with them soon they may haunt us for the rest of our lives. Like my need to have faith in my dentist and the work involved in saving my pain I need to find a way to help my family heal from the pain that Holly’s death has caused in our lives. We may also need to revisit the experiences of the other losses in our lives, just like I have to go the the dentist again next week to have another cavity filled.

17 July 2011

Who Are the Brave?

Rebecca, Isaac and I attended a Eagle Court of Honor this evening. It was a very neat event to honor the hard work and dedication it take an entire family to help a son become an Eagle Scout. Even though he is still a cub scout, Isaac was inspired to work towards Eagle Scout.
I was impressed to see how many people turned out to honor the young man. There were a lot more people there than the family was expecting, and that was very neat. So often these days we all get wrapped up in our own little worlds and don’t take the time to reach out and connect with those around us. This young man, and his family have reached out though, and they have touched the lives of many people, and those people gathered tonight to honor them.
The closing song was an ensemble of young men who sang with a fervor for the song that could be felt by those in the room. The spirit was strong, and the song was beautiful, and the young men were heroes who have yet to be tested and know their full strength. I wish I had a video or even a picture  of the young men that sang tonight, but since I don’t, I found a youtube video of the song, Who Are the Brave by J. Paul Williams and Joseph Martin.

I love this quote found as the description of the song on Sheet Music Plus’s website.
“This work . . . asks us to explore the role we all perform in our daily lives. Because of world issues, it is imperative for us to reflect on things around us.”
Here are the lyrics to the song:
Who are the brave? Those who go to war.
Who are the brave? Those who fight no more.
Those who gave their lives, protecting freedom's shore.
Who are the brave? Those who serve in war.
Who are the brave? Those who live with pain.
Who are the brave? Those whose lives are plain.
Those with healthy bodies, those protecting the unsure.
Who are the brave? Those who serve the poor.
Who are the brave? Those whose speech is free?
Who are the brave? Those loving liberty.
All those with heart and mind, protecting all they find.
Who are the brave? Those who serve mankind.
These are the brave.

So beautiful. So true. We often think bravery as being something grand and life changing, as a warrior going to war, facing some tremendous challenge. That may be, but I know many people who are brave who,
    • have never gone to war, but have quietly suffered pain day in and day out for many years
    • who haven’t made national news for their brave acts, but have cared for a child, who will never grow up, for 30+ years.
    • who will never be famous, but have stood by their spouses through thick and thin, rough years, court appearances, and jail time
    • who haven’t died, but have given all of their life to raising their children, and loving and serving grandchildren and great-grandchildren
    • who will never be rich, but have worked hard their whole life, teaching the children of others
The Unsung Heroes that quietly go about living their lives and blessing others. Many of them Mothers, but Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, Friends, Neighbors, all of them can touch our lives and help us learn to be brave. Lets remember to honor them, the brave heroes that we see in our lives every day.

15 July 2011

Emotional Range of a Teaspoon

I woke up this morning and thought of this conversation from Harry Potter, and how accurately it described my emotional state lately.
“Well, obviously, she’ feeling very sad, because of Cedric dying. Then I expect she’s feeling confused because she liked Cedric and now she likes Harry, and she can’t work out who she likes best. Then she’ll be feeling guilty, thinking it’s an insult to Cedric’s memory to be kissing Harry at all, and she’ll be worrying about what everyone else might say about her if she starts going out with Harry. And she probably can’t work out what her feelings toward Harry are anyway, because he was the one who was with Cedric when Cedric died, so that’s all very mixed up and painful. Oh, and she’s afraid she’s going to be thrown off the Ravenclaw Quidditch team because she’s been flying so badly.”
A slightly stunned silence greeted the end of this speech, then Ron said, “One person can’t feel all that at once, they’d explode.”
“Just because you have the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t’ mean we all have,” said Hermione nastily.- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. by J.K Rowling pg 459
My emotions have been all over the place – and when people ask the standard, “How are you today?”, I have to pause and think, “Is this the time and place and person that I can open up and really share how I feel, or should I say something innocous like, “fine”, “ok”, ‘getting by” or, “still here”. I don’t want to lie, so I usually try to come up with a couple of words that could be accepted as flippant, or as a clue that I’m having a rough day, and then the the other person decide where to go from there in the conversation.
I think Michael J. Fox sums up what I am trying to say much better than I can.
So if you go up to someone and say, "How are you? Are you OK?" I mean, that tells me I'm supposed to not be OK. Just ask me if I'm OK, I'll tell you I'm OK...and take my word for it. Or I'll tell you I'm not OK...and then be prepared to reap what you've sown by asking me the question.
Read more: Michael J Fox Interview - Michael J Fox on Family and Tracy Pollan - Good Housekeeping
That’s the key – being prepared to reap what has been sown. I understand that most people aren’t prepared to deal with the rush of emotions that is bottled up inside me most of the time right now, and most of the time I don’t want to let them out either, but sometimes I do feel like I need to explode and that is when a listening ear, or at least a warm body is most appreciated.
Tears are nothing to be afraid of, they are very cathartic . The presence of another being brings love and peace into the equation, and that person can help you to come full circle to where you can face the day again.

14 July 2011

Compassionate Friends

compassionate friends logo
I got a letter from "The Compassionate Friends" today. It is interesting that an organization that I've never heard of has sent me a letter offering their sympathy at the loss of my baby, but it is nice to get mail that isn't a bill. I do have to admit we have received a few sympathy cards in the mail over the past few weeks. They are both difficult and comforting to read.

As I read the enclosures with the letter I also found it interesting that all the "grief material" is given to the ones doing the grieving. I don't feel like I need someone to tell me that grief is "painful and traumatic". I already knew that, already felt those feelings.
However, it is comforting to know that others have felt similar feelings, and that my feelings of "isolation" are typical of a grieving parent and not a sign that I am friendless, unloved, and unwanted. Depression talks loud, and lies. I may know that they are lies in the logical part of my brain, but the emotional part talks a lot louder sometimes.

After reading the brochure I wondered if "The Compassionate Friends" can figure out who I am - why can't they figure out who my friends and family are and mail them the brochure, or instead of the "Stillbirth, Miscarriage, and Infant Death” brochure they could mail them the "How Can I Help" brochure.

If you don't have time to read the whole brochure - I will highlight the two ways that I could use help the most.

— Be there. Run errands, help with household chores, provide child care, and help in whatever way is needed. Don’t say, “Call me if there is anything I can do.” That call will probably never come. Be aware of what needs to be done and offer to do specific tasks.

Being there is important. If you aren't in my home you have no idea how I am doing, or what needs I have. If you don't ask, I probably won't tell you what I need, and to make my life a little easier you could look around and offer something specific. Since I still have 5 kids that eat and wear clothes I probably have a dishwasher that needs loaded or a load of laundry that needs folded. Even if you just sit in my kitchen and visit with me while I clean could be very helpful, if I am physically recovered. My mind is clearing now, but it was so fuzzy for awhile, I had trouble maintaining a thought long enough to articulate it. I'm spending so much time at the grocery store now though because I can't seem to plan more than a meal or two ahead, and so I'm constantly needed to go shopping for food for the next meal.

— Give special attention to surviving children. They are hurt, confused, and often ignored. Don’t assume they are not hurting because they do not express their feelings. Many times siblings will suppress their grief to avoid adding to their parents’ pain. Talk to them and acknowledge their loss.
I honestly don't know how my kids are doing. I don't know if they are grieving. I've tried talking to them a couple of times. I don't know if they are feeling ignored. I locked myself in my room quite a bit at first, only doing what was absolutely necessary that I do. Physically and mentally I needed time off, and emotionally I was on a rollercoaster, and didn't want to take it out on my kids, so retreating was probably the best option. Lately we've been having fun with our family that has been in town, but I'm beginning to realize that it has been to much fun. We have had very little down time, and almost zero family time. What little time we have has been taken up with trying to get our housework, bills, library books, yard work and etc. caught up. My kids have had a lot of fun, and some chores, but are they being emotionally supported? I don't think so, because even our family traditions of scripture study, family home evening, and family prayer of taken a huge hit amongst all the chaos.

The brochures are really helpful, but they can only help so much. Real friends, as opposed to  unknown "compassionate friends" and virtual "facebook friends" would be welcome in my life.

13 July 2011

The Bill

I dreaded opening “the Bill” from Relyea Funeral Chapel. I was afraid it would upset me – and so I walked past it several times this morning, I knew it was there, but was avoiding it. Finally, I decided to just get it over with, I was having a “good” morning, so this would probably be the best time to open it. I already knew that the total would be around $700 – so it wasn’t sticker shock – or was it. The total was only $590. I quickly scoured the rest of the page to find out how come it was so low. The funeral director had already explained that the costs would be minimal, the casket at cost, opening and closing costs at the cemetery, and the rest of the typical mortuary fees would be waived. (From what I understand it is typical for mortuary's to reduce the cost of their services for infant deaths).

The bill read as follows:

McCord Goldenfrost 12 Infant Casket – $150
Interment Fee – Cash Advance – $440

But wait, where was the cost for the flowers. I had ordered casket flowers a couple of days before the funeral. I had looked online and found the casket spray that I liked at Hope Blooms in Eagle. I loved the look of the Sweetly Rest Casket Spray, but I liked the colors in the Immorata Casket Spray. I emailed Hope Blooms and asked if they could do the Sweetly Rest with the lavender roses and for a small 12 inch casket. They were able to do what I wanted, plus suggested adding a ribbon with “Holly Marie” embroidered on it for a keepsake, and let me know they would make all the arrangements with the funeral home, including billing the funeral home. So . . .  did they get paid?
I calmly called the funeral home to double check my bill.  All is well, Hope Blooms was paid, after my bill was mailed, I would be getting a new statement at the end of the month. Relief.

While I was on the phone with the billing office I asked if I could make payments. The reassuring answer was “yes, no payment plan needed, just pay what you can.” Double Relief. The experience I had dreaded, and already cried over,  twice, went so much smoother than I expected.

It was still a good day. Maybe even a little better.

12 July 2011


This is a beautiful song about a father and his experiences with his daughter as she grows up, and they grow up so quickly, and sometimes they are gone in an instant.

Here is the Author and Artist Steven Curtis Chapman telling about his real life experience that was the inspiration for this song.

02 July 2011

Grandma is Coming Today

MaryAnn was sitting on the couch next to me, and was singing over, and over,”Grandma is coming today.” I was a little confused, because Grandma had already been her, and left already. However, it was really cute, that she was singing. Rebecca walked into the room and said, “Do you know what she is singing. I said, “Yes” with a confused look on my face. Rebecca said, “It is an All-About Family” song.

We love “The Allabout Family” and “Scriptures Scouts” and “Alexander’s Amazing Adventures” I mention all 3 of these together because the same artists wrote all of them. My kids have learned so much about the scriptures, the gospel, and good values by listening to these over and over. They have helped to create some really neat spiritual experiences in our home.

Apparently they have been listening to the Allabouts the last 2 nights as all of the kids have been sleeping together on the trampoline. MaryAnn picked up on the song quick – and has been singing it.

Unfortunately, I can’t find anywhere online where you can purchase the CD’s. I highly recommend them if you ever see them.

MaryAnn and Grandma2 copy

Grandma is Kisses,

Grandma is Hugs,

Grandma is coming Today!