Tag Archives: service

A Perfectly Imperfect Christmas

I woke up Christmas Eve morning, my entire body feeling heavy, like it was difficult to breathe.  My heart felt like it was  broken and trying to pump lead . Some days over the past months are easier than others and that day, it just plain hurt. It had been building over the weekend. The family had been fighting more and I found myself wishing that things could just be easy, for a few minutes if nothing else. In a spot in life where remembering to be happy and to smile can be hard, some days, I just wish for easy. I sat in the bathroom sobbing. All I wanted was to have everything back to how it had been before Lizy died. Sure, life would be far from perfect, but it wouldn’t be impossible.

But, it was Christmas Eve day and dinner had to be made and all the other preparations and I couldn’t let my family down. I struggled through the day. We all did. I think we fought more than we ever had. I cried more than I ever have. Everything felt broken. Nothing seemed to work right. And I caught myself thinking numerous times, “How can we hope to be an eternal family and see Lizy again, if we can’t make it through a few hours without a major fight.” I sobbed, I pounded on my husband’s chest and soaked his shirt with helpless tears and no clue how to fix everything that was broken, because it wasn’t the kind of broken that could be fixed with some duct tape or crazy glue.

I pulled my self together for the fifth or sixth time that day, smeared my tears away and ran a last minute trip to the store, trying to collect myself, knowing that when I got back our adopted grandparents would be there and the festivities would begin. I cried some more in the car and hoped my eyes didn’t look too red. I tried my best to wish the cashier a cheery “Merry Christmas.” I don’t know if I was convincing or not.

Sure enough, as I arrived at the house they were there. I walked in and my heart lightened. It was Christmas Eve. It would be perfect, and even though we couldn’t see her, I knew Lizy would be there.

We ate dinner and acted out the nativity – the kids insisted on Lizy being the angel and we draped the white lab coat (angel costume) around her picture. We made it through, I laughed and had fun – the kids were so cute in their costume and we felt the spirit and Lizy’s presence. Santa came and brought pjs and we tucked the kids into bed.

We spent the next couple hours cleaning up and getting ready for Christmas morning and then, as I stood there and looked at the fully packed stockings and Lizy’s rather lacking one the tears hit again and all the missing came back.

I cried myself to sleep.

I awoke on Christmas in a post-cry haze to the sound of the girls whispering excitedly. The day progressed remarkably smoothe – I was wrapped up in the joy of the children. I didn’t mind the crazyness and the mess. There were a few tense moments,fights and one rather large explosion at one point, but I managed to hold it together some what.

Evening came and we sent the kids off to bed and I stood staring at the fireplace mantel where all the stockings, now empty, hung. All but one. Lizy’s sat on the hearth still waiting to be opened. We brought the kids back down and sat on the floor by the tree. I shook out her stocking and paper after paper tumbled out. Paul and I began to read – our Christmas gifts to Lizy. Most were acts of service or kindness carried out by our family, but some were by others – even a neighbor down the street had dropped some by. We read, and read and read. Often times our voices cracking with emotion.

As we finished, Emily climbed, sobbing, into my lap. “I can’t believe all the service that was done for her.” She choked out. We cried together, all of us – Dot and Dad, Jacob, Em, James, and I. Robert looked on in bewildered 2-year-old innocence. As the tears dried I looked at the family. I knew Lizy was there too. It was perfect – a perfectly imperfect Christmas. And for that one little moment I caught a glimpse of heaven. A glimpse of what it’s all about.

We might fight, we might argue, but we also love. We love deeply and eternally.   Our dear sweet kids have struggled and strived and done hard things – some of the hardest things they may ever have to do. My husband has been my solid rock. My littlest boys have been some of my greatest comfort. Last night as I glanced around at the messy house and the toys and wrappings scattered about all I could remember was the happiness of the day, the gratitude in my heart, and the joy that I had a family and friends who cared so much that they filled Lizy’s stocking with service that took us well over thirty minutes to get through. And that time when I cried, it wasn’t so much tears of sadness and missing Lizy, as it was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.

I knew Lizy was thrilled and I knew that no matter how hard, how much we fought, how impossible it all felt and seemed, that we would make it through – we’ll have a lot more rough patches to still make it through – but we’ll get there one way or another. I’ll fight for it, our family will fight for it, and we might mess up big in the process, but that’s what this season is all about. A celebration of the birth of the one person who made it all possible – Jesus Christ.  With His help, and only with His help can we do it, – and we will. I know it.


Filed under Child loss, Family, Lizy, Parenting, Religion


Some children are just bent on making your heart pound – I think they delight in it even.

“Jacob, why don’t you find the fin for your giant fish pillow and I will fix it for you.” I had know idea my willingness to fix his pillow would have such an interesting result.

Jacob promptly disappeared to his bedroom at the other end of the house and I proceeded to clean and organize my office (it’s time to start working on christmas sewing and such and I need it clean to do that, heh). A few minutes later I thought I heard Jacob yelling and crying, so I sent the girls to check and see if he needed help.

“His leg is stuck in the bed!” came the reply as they stampeded through the house to my office. Now, that may sound a bit odd to most people, but I knew exactly what they meant. We have a set of bunkbeds that were made by my uncle. The way the beds are made leaves a gap between the wood crossbar of the end of the bed and the wall. It’s not a big gap, just right for the size for a leg, of, oh say – a three year-old boy, to get stuck. He could freely move the lower part of his leg, but his knee was wedge in tight. I tried to work it free, but I was afraid of hurting him.

There is something else to know about Jacob’s room. We use it for storage. We are living in my parent’s house while they serve missions for church. The top bunk of his bed is loaded with boxes, a cedar chest, and on top of those are a queen size mattress and box springs – snugged right up to the ceiling, and of course everything is wedged in tight so as not to be unstable and fall, etc. Then at the end of the bed (not by the wall where Jacob was stuck) is a spare twin size mattress, a head board, a couple other twinsize thing mattress type things, and another queen size mattress – so from the end of the bed to the wall is packed just as tight as the top bunk up to the ceiling.

After trying to work him loose I stood in a panic staring at the momouth bed and surrounding storage. The only thought that crossed my mind was, There is no possible way I can move that bed, and my husband is on his way to class in Portland.

Not sure what else to do, I called Paul and told him what was going on. He agreed he couldn’t come home, and besides it would be close to an hour before he got home anyway. Jacob had already been stuck for at least 5-10 minutes at this point. “Run and see if our neighbor is home.”

I hopped off the phone and looked at my crying boy. Before I did anything I decided to try to calm him down by saying a prayer. “Let’s pray,” I told him. He nodded his head. I was about to start when the phone rang. I went to answer it, and my dear sweet boy not wanting to wait, said his own prayer of, “Please let me get my leg out.” The phone call was Paul letting me know that he had called a couple members of our church and they were on their way over. Jacob asked for his favorite stuffed dog and blanket to help him feel better, and not as scared.

In the mean time I began hauling out everything I possibly could. When the first person, a 17 year-old down the street arrived I was heaving off the top mattress from the top bunk. Pretty soon we had things cleared out enough that we could jerk on the bunk beds in hope to move it just enough that Jacob could slip his leg out.

We jerked, we yanked, we pulled, and it didn’t seem that the beds had moved even the tiniest bit, but it must have worked because Jacob managed to wiggle free.

When all was said and done, Jacob was stuck for close to 30 minutes. We got him loose just before the second ward member arrived.

The seventeen year-old had ridden a bike down to our house, in short sleeves, he hadn’t even taken the time to put on a jacket. It’s no warmer than 40 something outside and he was pedaling as fast as he could. Not only that, but the chain on his bike is broken and he had to take his mom’s bike. To give you an idea of what that would have been like: Elizabeth is almost as tall as his mom – she is tiny. He takes after his dad who is very tall, so here was this tall long legged boy riding a bike that was hardly bigger than my eldest daughter’s as fast as he could just to come help us out. What a great kid!

Anyway, we are grateful for answered prayers and wonderful friends who drop everything to come running when we need them. Oh, and Jacob is fine. I think his knee is a bit bruised, but he was running around the house like a madman moments after we loosed him, so I don’t think there was any damage done. Though, I must say I had to give a little chuckle when I poked my head in before going to bed and he was curled up asleep in a little ball as far away from that end of the bed possible.

And, we never did find the fish fin – I started to stick my arm down there trying to feel for it, but then I decided I would look pretty foolish if I got stuck and decided not to push it. heh.


Filed under Children, Jacob, Miracles


Last Friday I recieved an email that was sent out to all the ladies in our ward (that have email) that Emmanual Children’s Hospital needed baby blankets.  Apparantly they only had one or two left.   I was especially excited for the oportunity to make some blankets to send to the hospital.  As I read the email a thrill of excitement went through me. They were going to be delivered on Halloween – and I had James’ post-op appt on the same day.  When the lady that was going to the the blankets up to the hospital had her baby, I was asked (since I was going anyway) to go. 

It was so wonderful to watch the mound of blankets grow  and to deliver them to the community laison at the hospital.  She was so grateful. They hadn’t recieved a blanket donation in two months.  Usually they get donations all the time, but they are particularly low right now.  I’m hoping to get some other wards to start blanket projects and maybe we can inundate them. 🙂  It was wonderful to help and give back something that had meant so much to us when Jacob had heart surgery.

For those who are new to my blog and want to know the history behind this post check out these links:

Jacob’s Story (short version)

Jacob’s Sotry (long Version)

Not Just a Blanket

James’ appointment also went very well. There are no problems whatsoever.  He just has to have his ped check his testical once a year and once he gets to teen years he learns how to do a self exam and has to do it once a month.  Actually, and I didn’t know this, just like women are supposed to give themselves a self exam monthly, men are supposed to as well.  Anyway, I just mention it in case others are clueless like I, and my husband, are. 🙂  It will be especially important for James because his risk will be higher.

On the sickies front:

Elizabeth’s temp is normal, except for those moments when it is not.  I was an irresponsible parent and sent her to school today, even though her temp last night (after being normal for the ENTIRE day) jumped to 100.5.  It was 99 this morning, so I didn’t feel too bad. She was in tears of devestation last night when she learned she might not be able to go to school today.  She loves school so much, and today is Halloween, I couldn’t be THAT mean to her when she was feeling so good.  It was normal when she got home from school today – and then 99.3 a couple hours after that. So who knows what it is doing.  Her glands still feel swollen.  I figure we’ll get through the weekend and then see what things look like on Monday.

James has a bad cold and is very congested, but at least he isn’t croupy any more.

And, I caught it.  The cold that is. But at least we are headed into the weekend, which means I’ll have a hubby around to watch kids so I can NAP.  WOOHOO! 🙂


Filed under CHD, Children, Heart, TGA

Link to Published Article

For those of you interested in reading my article that was published in the Ensign here is a link to the article. It is quite short as there is limited space in a magazine, etc. So don’t be surprised by its brevity. 🙂

The article is about an experience that my husband and I had while our son, Jacob, was in the hospital.  (If you are not familiar with Jacob’s story you can find a link to it on the side bar under heart kids)

For those of you who are not familiar with the publication, Ensign, it is a magazine that is published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Thanks everyone for your support and interest! 🙂


Filed under CHD, Heart, Jacob, Religion, TGA, Writing


Weekly Anamnesis #5
(This one was harder, I hope I am not overusing this topic it is what holds the most poignant and recent memories for me . . .)

Dance, Birthday, Open House, Party, Wedding Shower, Wedding, Baby Shower Invitations, Reunion: I have received them all; I have even sent many of them. Sometimes spoken, most often written, each comes in a different style, often reflecting the personality of the hostess and presenting the event with its own special flair. Each is received in a different style as well, excitement, dread, wonder, curiosity, and sometimes (I think this one is a bit more rare) overwhelming gratitude.

Out of the countless invitations to various events that have slipped through my fingers there is one (other than my wedding invitations) that stands out in my mind. Perhaps it is because it’s one of the most recent, but more likely it is because of the impact it had.

I don’t remember when I first saw it; the Invitation. At some point shortly after we arrived at the ICU with Jacob they appeared on the walls. It didn’t catch my attention at first. Simply a piece of paper, blue, yellow, hung on a wall. My brain was numb, my body tired, my heart aching. It must have been during a moment when he was doing rather well that I was alive enough to read it, “You are invited to a home cooked Easter Dinner! Who: Pediatric floor, PICU, and NICU patients, families, and staff. When: Easter Sunday 12:00-2:30” I didn’t notice who was hosting the dinner, but I did think it was a very nice thought and tucked it away in my brain to talk over with my hubby.

Paul was the first one who brought it up. “Did you see the flyers?” I answered in the affirmative. “Did you notice who is providing the dinner?” I shook my head no and he handed me an invitation. And read “Dinner hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.” I smiled, an act rare at the time. I found it rather providential that it just happened to be hosted by members of our faith. A different congregation of course and none of them knew us, but providential just the same. Of course it would have meant just as much being a different faith but it created that small seed of warmth of something familiar.

Originally we planned to bring the children to the hospital with Paul’s parents and enjoy the dinner all together. Jacob wasn’t to have heart surgery until the following Tuesday. Plans are never meant to be set in stone. Saturday Jacob’s oxygen levels started to drop dangerously low, even though they had him stabilized as best they could, and there was no other option: They had to the surgery the next day. Easter Sunday. We decided not to bring the kids up to the hospital of course, but Paul’s parents came. How does one describe the feelings one has while they wait for their infant to emerge for surgery. Anxious for a good report, terrified of a bad one.

We accepted that invitation, the one hanging on the wall, hoping it might help the time pass better. What a strength talking with people of our faith and other patients of all faiths, words of encouragement received as they found out our son was in surgery at that very moment. I don’t ever recall being filled with overwhelming gratitude at such a simple invitation before, but it is truly one that changed our lives. People who didn’t know us or anyone at the hospital, willing to give up their precious holiday to serve us and others. Now I hope to carry on that legacy and issue my own invitation.


Filed under Anamnesis, Heart, Jacob, Religion, Writing