Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Since New Year's I have felt like I am drowning. It started a few days before New Year's eve and it has yet to ease up. If anything it's increasing. The storm. This tornado. The grief and the pain. Oh how I hate it.

I thought if I made it through New Year's I'd come up for air. I knew that the storm would pull me under again but if only I could come up for air, for a brief moment, then I could gain some energy to go through the storm again, and again. I feel like I am in the middle of an icy cold ocean, with anchors on my feet, being dragged down to the bottom. Swimming uncontrollably to the top yet never to reach the much needed air. It's like knives in my body, never ceasing to give me a break from the stabbing pain.

I can only assume this grief has come due to Ainslee's 1 year memorial. I'm not sure how to let go of the grief, how to accept what's been given to me in this life and incorporate it into my new so-called "normal." My faith is being tested. How can there be a God that allows children to be beaten in abusive homes, pregnant mothers who neglect their pregnancies and continue down a poor lifestyle, a baby ripped from the arms of their mother at just 3 months old? How could He, the Almighty, allow this to happen? Gosh I sure haven't altered on my faith since Ainslee passed, but boy have I ever felt alone. These are the times you're supposed to feel God and instead, I feel empty. I need to feel Him. I need to feel Ainslee. I want to know she hears me, sees me, loves me, comforts me. I want to hold her. I want to feel her body in my arms. I want to dream with her. It's been so long since I've dreamt with her and I miss her. A dream is such a simple thing. Can't He at least give me that?

I hate to question God. I know it's natural, but I want to be confident. I want to be sure.

My exhuastion has reached a new level. I barely have the energy for anything. I'm trying my hardest at work to get everything done accordingly and I think from an outsider, you'd never be able to tell I'm struggling....which is good from a client perspective. But then the energy I do have that I pour into my work is then drained from my total energy. Meaning, the only energy I have left is for my family. It leaves things like cooking and cleaning absolute last on the list that I have a hard time getting to. I am a neat freak, I like my things in order, clean, and organized. If it's not like this, I am affected mentally. I've been asking Travis a lot to help me with various things and he always does it, but I always hate being the one to constantly ask of help from others. I just don't have it in me anymore.

I'm trying to stay above water but the weights are dragging me down. I'm drowning and I'm trying my hardest to survive. This isn't easy. And I keep praying I'm going to breath again. I don't know when or how to get to a "better" place, but pray that the weights will be set free and I will surface to find some air and gain a little bit of energy to continue on this ever unpredictable grief journey. I get scared that I'm not going to make it out on the other side when the grief gets to be too much. The intensity of the pain is just too overwhelming that I literally think it's killing me. I feel as if my lungs are collapsing and I can't possibly live another moment. I am ready for air.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January 22-25th, 2011

So I've started going through the motions and reliving every single moment of our lasts with Ainslee. It can be absolutely gut wrenching but I'm sure it's what they call "normal."

January 22nd, 2011: Travis, Adrian, Ainslee and I made another family trip to my hometown, Lawton, Ok! It has always been so important to me to have my children meet their great grandfather, my Pappy. He has been so instrumental in my life. He and my Mima helped to not only raise me, but they instilled morals, values, and faith within me. I am so greatful for them and miss my Mima still every day. I took Ainslee on December 19, 2010 to meet Pappy for the first time when he was in the hospital. I thought this was it for him and was determined to get her to him to meet him. He didn't remember that visit, and still doesn't. He was really sick but luckily recovered. Since he didn't remember, I knew I had to have her go see him again and get the traditional picture of the first time he can hold her. We spent January 22nd and the 23rd with my family, making memories, and I so loved seeing my Pappy hold his great grand-daughter.

This is the first time I took Ainslee to Lawton to meet Pappy. He didn't remember, he was very very sick. This was on December 19, 2010.

January 22nd, 2011: The first time Pappy got to hold Ainslee. I love these memories.

This is my entire family: Mom, sister Holly holding Ainslee, brother Nick, myself, my Pappy holding my niece, Travis in the back holding Adrian, and my sister Sarah and her boyfriend.

Ainslee loved Pappy. She thought he was funny and would laugh and smile at him. Pappy had his high pitched baby talk in full effect, it was so sweet.

January 25th, 2011: Ainslee came down with a 101 fever and a stomach bug. This stomach bug went through every one of us, vomitting/diarrhea, fevers, aches. It wasn't any fun. She got this bug on a Tuesday and recovered just fine from it, as we all did. Exactly 2 weeks later...everything would change.

I now hate illnesses, they freak me out. They used to not. In the autopsy report, they told me they did see reminents of her tummy bug, a virus, and they could see that she had a fever 2 weeks prior. It amazes me what they can see and tell, but it also makes me ill to have to read all of that. It's haunting.

We're counting down, we're trying to stay above water.

Last night at a Stars hockey game, just before the game started, I spotted this sweet old man and felt drawn to him. My friend, Dena and I, went over by where he was to eat our monstrous pretzel. He worked there, and was 69 years old. I could tell he was scarred, literally. His body had been through trauma of some sort and I felt such a tug towards him. I wanted him to know he was special, even at his older age. We got to talking, small talk, he made me laugh and we shared stories. The dreaded question came up...How many kids do you have? I always look at it as an opportunity to share Ainslee, but it always makes my heart feel like it's about to pound through my chest. I would much rather share Ainslee than not. He was so sad to hear her story. He shared his story with me. He was in a car accident at the age of 9, and by the grace of God was somehow pulled from the car. Although the scars are ever present. It burned 1/3 of his body, mostly all over his face, hands and arms. In the accident, the driver was drunk, a family friend. It killed his twin sisters, 1 year old. And it killed his Mother. I cried.

I wanted this man to know how much I loved him. I know he has struggled with a hateful society...judging, calling him a cripple and handicap, and not giving him a chance. He shared the word of God with me. And what he told me was just what I needed to hear and remind myself of.

"God did not cause this. God did not give you this. Yes, He allowed it. But it does not mean He doesn't love you or her. We just can't possibly understand His plan, the why's, and the way things do or don't happen. Keep the faith, look to Him and one day we will get answers when we are in His presence."

I wept and hugged him. I got back to my seat with Dena, and wept some more in her arms. She is a tremendous friend. She is one of the two girls that took me to the hospital when we got the call. She sees me at my lowest of lows all the time. She's protective of me, she would drop anything for me, and I could call her at 3 in the morning if I needed to. God puts people in our lives right where we need them.

I wanted to just share some of what I've been going through leading up to Ainslee's 1 year. I ordered something special to send out to family and friends in memory of our precious daughter. It was the only thing I felt was "right" at the time and I'm hoping it'll make me feel good to simply remember her, her short but ever so productive life, and to hold her memory alive now and always.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sneaking up on me

The grief started sneaking up on me again. I think I can go a couple days without crying at somepoint during the day. My thoughts can be consumed with Ainslee, but I think I crash so hard from grief that it then allows me a couple days to "recover" and live life. Yesterday I was out with our team doing a team building event and being away from Adrian brought on more anxiety. I feel better if he's with Travis, but I still have a heightened amount of anxiety if I can't physically watch him breath and know what he is doing every moment. We went to a rodeo and as we were sitting there, laughing about various things that only a rodeo would bring on, I found myself slipping into thoughts of Adrian and Ainslee. I tried to imagine what my life would be like if I had lost Adrian instead of Ainslee. I couldn't even begin to wrap my head around that. I thought of Adrian and what a little person he is. He's full of life, laughter, love. It got me to thinking about what Ainslee would be like right now. Who would she look like? What would she be like? Thinking of what could of been really made my head swim. There's the natural grief that is associated with losing a child. But then there is the grief that comes with what they would or should be doing. There's the grief associated with not just missing out on her, but missing out on her husband. Missing out her extended family. Missing out on my sweet grandchildren. I feel like I'm grieving things that were never going to be.

Tomorrow marks us being 3 weeks away from her 1 year birthday in Heaven. Surely they must have a huge party for you in Heaven when you get there and it must be a celebration each year you are there. I can't imagine her having already spent a year with Jesus, living in His presence, following His word, and praying for her family. What a big girl we have up there.

11 months and 1 week since we had to say goodbye. What is grief like 11 months and one week out? The grief is still very much present, as I'm sure it always will be. The grief is like a tornado, you never know when it will stir up all the memories, the pain, the feelings, to form a horrible storm that takes over your soul. I feel blessed when I get a day or two of  "cry-free" days. Those days aren't as exhausting. There are still more days where I cry and get emotionally overwhelmed and drained. I still revert back to the day everything happened, the words I heard in the ER (atropine/eponephrine/chest compressions/changing of tubes/time of death), the last time I held her, what she looked like, what she felt like, the chaplan, the first time the chaplan brought her out all dressed in her Valentine's Day outfit, how it felt to hold her in her coffin, how it felt as each scoop of dirt hit the top of her coffin, throwing the last flower in on top of her coffin, and returning to a house without her. There are brief moments where I can smile though at her picture, or her videos, or the thought of how wonderful of a baby girl she is. But often the pain of missing her is still far too overwhelming. I see small progressions, although they mostly never seem like enough.

February 8th will be here before I know it, we're only 3 weeks out. I took the day off work and Travis will be home with Adrian and I. I tried to think of what I wanted to do that day, how I wanted to remember her, and a way to not get too consumed with sadness but I'm not sure what I'd like to do. It may be an Ainslee Day where we do something fun as a family to honor her. We may release more balloons so she has balloons in heaven to celebrate her being there a year. Nothing ever seems right, nothing ever seems enough for her.

I started having feelings of sadness as I reflected on what I was doing this time last year. I remember I had bought Ainslee's Valentine outfit to wear to daycare. I was going to make home made Valentine's for Adrian and Ainslee to take to daycare (our at home provider). I had them drawn out and thought they were going to be perfect for the kids. I found my drawings of them, I remember the thoughts I was having at the time of my sweet 3 month olds first Valentine's Day party-one she never got to see. When she passed away, I had to decide what to put my baby in. I didn't want it to be something that wasn't comfy, I wanted her to be comfortable and snuggly. I decided to put her in her Valentine's Day outfit. It had a matching bib and I kept the bib. I feel like we're brought together because of that. She has on her outfit, and I have a part of it to keep. I am ready to get past her heavenly birthday and Valentine's Day. I'm fearful as I plan for Adrian's Valentine's Day party at his school, that we're going to be faced with the same tragedy this year in losing him somehow. It makes me apprehensive to plan for his party and to plan his Valentine's treats and cards. I just keep praying it won't happen again, we won't lose another child, we'll get to keep the rest of what we have.

A friend sent told me she thought of us today as she heard "Who You'd Be Today" by Kenny Chesney. It summed up what I've been feeling:

Sunny days seem to hurt the most.
I wear the pain like a heavy coat.
I feel you everywhere I go.
I see your smile, I see your face,
I hear you laughin' in the rain.
I still can't believe you're gone.

It ain't fair: you died too young,
Like the story that had just begun,
But death tore the pages all away.
God knows how I miss you,
All the hell that I've been through,
Just knowin' no-one could take your place.
An' sometimes I wonder,
Who'd you be today?

Would you see the world? Would you chase your dreams?
Settle down with a family,
I wonder what would you name your babies?
Some days the sky's so blue,
I feel like I can talk to you,
An' I know it might sound crazy.

Please pray for us.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Waiting for Spring

It's winter inside,
and I don't know if
spring will ever come.

But every once in a while
I think I see a sprig of green
pushing up through the frozen ground.

Maybe, just maybe
spring will come.

Be with me, God,
while I watch for spring.
Be with me, God,
when the icy winds blow.
Be with me, God,
when I slip and fall.

Help me to endure the winter.
Help me to wait for spring.
Help me to give hope a chance.
Help me to live again.

Our church sends us a series of grief books called Journeying through Grief and they send them quarterly throughout the first year of grief. We just received our last of the four, acknowleding Ainslee's 1 year memorial approaching. The first page of the book had the above poem and it is so fitting to not only the time of year and the aspects of winter, but our Hope that is to come this spring. Having the patience to wait for Hadlee to be here in the spring is difficult, approaching Ainslee's 1 year brings a ton of anxiety, yet all the while-we're trying to have hope and learn to live in a new way. I'm sure I'll be sharing more of this wonderful series soon. I love the grief ministry that our church has and think I may even get involved somehow in it.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Adrian Reese- 2 1/2 years old

Dear Adrian,
I wanted to write you a letter to wrap up 2011 and to document where you are, what you are into, and what you love. This has been an interesting year to say the least and you were very much a part of this year and helped us in ways you may never know. I felt it was important to write this down to you so you know just how much we love you and how much you helped your Mommy and Daddy in a year where we felt defeated. I know that there are many more hard days ahead of us, but I've seen that with you by our side, we will make it.

February of 2011 marked the most awful month to date. Your sweet sister Ainslee passed away in her sleep, no explanation except it was her time to be with Jesus. I hate that, but I'm learning to not have a choice but to accept it. As soon as Mommy and Daddy reached the hospital and learned that your sister was no longer alive, my thoughts immediately turned to you and your safety. I had your Grandpa Hook go get you right away to be in his safe care. I remember coming home from the hospital, empty handed without your sister, and you were just waking up from your nap. You were crying, I knew you missed her too. I just sobbed as I held you, and you wanted your Daddy. :) I knew in that moment I would have to cling to you-you would help me through.

The months to follow were devastating. Each day we lived a day without her. But as each day was revealed, I saw her in you. I saw her smile in yours. I see her eyes in yours-even though they were a different color. Your eyes as a baby were bright blue although now I see them changing a bit to have a more greenish tint. Your sweet sister Ainslee's eyes were a beautiful brown, like your Daddy's. And althougth you two have different features, you are both my children and I see so much of her in you.

Days would pass and due to your contagious smile and laughter, I would find myself smiling at the things I absolutely loved about you. Your innocence was hard to not smile at. God knew what He was doing by giving you to me first. He knew you could help me through. I still can't believe how an innocent two year old can always know the right things to say and do. I would get mad, you'd say, "it's okay Momma." I'd cry and you'd hug me, hold me, and say, "you miss Ainslee?" And then slowly, I started to see there were brighter moments in which you and I could simply laugh together.

I took you out of your daycare setting, knowing I needed to be with you all the time. I wanted to watch you breath as crazy as it sounds. You'll understand one day. :) The hot summer days went by and let me tell you, 2011's summer in Texas was a hot one. The hottest one since 1980-something. I was able to go back to work, but only did it from home to be with you. Your Daddy and I decided it would be a good idea to get you back in a part time preschool program and felt the best place would be at our church preschool. It's two days a week from 9-2:30. It was a rough transition for us both, being apart from each other again. It took you about 2 weeks to transition. I still have my moments after 5 months and cry because I miss you every second I'm not with you. Your teacher is amazing. She is the most wonderful caring lady and I feel so comfortable with you in her care. She knows our story, and she is sensitive to it. She knows when I'm sad and she acknowledges it. She has helped me in your transition into "school."

In November 2011, you had your first Thanksgiving Feast at school. I am your home room Mom so I have helped out in many ways throughout the school year with various activities. For the Feast I brought food up there to help set up. I was emotionally elated to see what a wonderful job your school did. They had the cutest little place mats, which I of course kept for you to look at, they said prayers, and I ate a feast with you by my side. It was a moment I will never forget. I was so proud of you for being in such a wonderful program. I was proud of me for allowing myself to try to let go enough to put you in a loving social and learning environment. I was sad Ainslee wasn't with us. But, I knew if she was with us, you wouldn't be a part of this program. I had other plans for you prior to losing her. This is where God wanted you. Where He wanted our family.

This Christmas break came and I took off work the entire time you were home to just have "Adrian/Mommy time." It was great. You were such a helper with the cooking, with picking out new decorations for our house, and by simply being you. You love to help just about anybody with anything. You have to be in the center of it all, helping in any way possible. I think it's the cutest thing. I think you may be the next up and coming Grandpa Hook which is a wonderful thing since your Daddy isn't exactly a fixer upper. :) Don't tell him I said that.

Right now you love to play with your play tools. You love your hammer, your tape measure, and your screw driver. You love to do puzzles of any kind right now. Your favorite puzzles are the firetruck puzzle and the alphabet train puzzle we got for Christmas. For Christmas, Santa brought you a big train table and you love that too. This Halloween and Christmas was a lot of fun with you. This is the first year you understand what is going on. You loved Halloween and you kept saying it was a Halloween Party. I think it was a Halloween party for 2 months....until Christmas came. Grandma Jan got you a big easel for all your coloring and drawing. Mommy got a big craft box for you and put all your markers, crayons, paper, paints, etc in there and you could spend a ton of time painting and drawing things. You love it so much, that you drew all over our dining room walls. You're such an artist!

With Christmas came lights and trees. You had so much fun picking out the tree, putting up the lights, putting ornaments on our tree, and getting ready for Christmas. You loved counting every night to get Daddy to turn the lights on...."3....1....5....6...7..8...go!" It was such a great reminder of all we have to live for. You bring us so much joy and happiness.

You love your Daddy to put you to bed. Every night before you go to bed, or every day before one of us leaves, you always say, "hug kiss." We know that means you want a tight hug and a big smooch. You love race cars, dinosaurs, tractors, towers, and you love when we pull up to a stop light. You like to tell us if it's red or green and if we should stop or go. When you say please, you say, "Meeease." You know the colors red, yellow, orange, green, blue, and pink. You still haven't had a hair cut, you're slow in growing hair but that's okay, I was the same way. You talk abotu Ainslee, even at such a young age. You say that Mima is rocking her, that she's in heaven with Jesus. You tell us you want to see her again. Trust me, we will all have a mighty reunion one day and I'll be able to finally care for all my children. 

Over Christmas break you showed me that you were ready to potty train. I picked out your very own racecar potty that I put in the bathroom. I kept you naked for a couple days, some days with underwear on and took you frequently to potty. You caught on quickly. You would go pee on the potty along with #2. I was so impressed with that. Not so impressed with cleaning the #2's but I'll take it. :) I now keep you in pull ups if you are at school or if we're going somewhere in case of an accident. But, when you're at home, you stay in your big boy underwear. Your Daddy and I are so proud of you for being so easy with it.

Ringing in the New year was anything but exciting. I felt so sad that Ainslee wasn't here. But then I felt grateful that I had you to cling to, to watch, to care for, and to love. Not to mention, we're getting ready for a special little someone in 2012. We'll be welcoming another sweet sister of yours-Hadlee Hope. She will add to our family. She will help our family. She will grow old with us. I'm trying my hardest to give you a sibling because you deserve it. I think when we lost Ainslee, a big part of me felt so guilty that she couldn't be around to play with you and grow up with you. I really felt like you were missing out. It makes me feel hopeful to know that Hadlee is coming and we'll get another chance at giving you a little partner.

Adrian-I love you so very much. You are my first born and that is irreplaceable. Every child a mother has, has their very own special characteristics. You are my little munchie-my munchola. Every night when I pray, you are always first on my list. I pray for your protection, your safety. I pray that you will grow into a Godly man and that one day, you will find a Godly woman to share a lifetime of happiness, with lots of children. I pray that Ainslee watches over you closely and protects you. I pray that I will get to grow old with you.

One of my favorite things is that you call your bottom a bollo and I just love it. It sounds so funny. You light up our lives sweet boy and I am beyond grateful for you. You are the light in my life. I hope out of this, you know just how very much you are loved and needed. Never for a second in this life forget how much I love you. The love of a mother is undescribable. Never forget how much you were wanted and just how incredible you are. At the age of 19 months old, you helped your mother through the hardest time I've ever had. You are a God sent my sweet boy...and from the moment I held you, I loved you. And I always will.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Give Her to God

One year ago today, I dedicated our sweet baby girl to Jesus. January 2nd, 2011 we stood before our family, friends, and faith community and joined in celebration as Ainslee Ryan was baptized. I may not be able to give her a first birthday, a sweet 16, or a wedding. But I was able to give her faith and give her to God. I am so thankful for that day and for those memories. I am remembering this sweet day today and always. Enjoy our day in pictures....

"One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism." Eph 4:5


Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Years Emotions

The emotions surrounding New Years by far exceeded the emotions surrounding Christmas. I think I cried a couple times Christmas Eve, a couple times Christmas day.....but nothing would prepare me for the grief on New Years eve and day.

Last year on New years's eve, Travis and I dropped off Adrian and Ainslee at my mother in law's for the night so we could enjoy a night out. It was Ainslee's first night away from us. We went to a house party, part of our extended family, and we had a great time. Ainslee had a wonderful first night away, it was her only night away. We spent a wonderful New year's day together in anticipation of the 2011 blessings to come. I had no idea a month later I'd be saying goodbye to our daugther.

Fast forward to New year's eve this year, the same family party was to take place. I had felt the emotions building as New year's eve approached, and I told Travis I didn't think I'd be able to participate in any festivities. I definitely knew I couldn't do any midnight toasts, or celebrate to a new year. You'd think I'd love to see a new year. I think for me, the changing into a new year is so bittersweet to me.

I would find myself reflecting on our pain in 2011, where we've been, how far we've come. I've thought about the last time I held Ainslee in the ER room and how she felt in my arms. I thought about the pain surrounding losing her and the many moments that try to cause me to stop breathing. I pondered how in the world we are still standing almost 11 months later. 2011 has been such sadness for me, for our family. A big piece of us is gone.

The biggest anxiety I feel surrounds knowing that 2012 will not consist of any memories of Ainslee. 2011 will be the last year she was ever a part of. And that thought takes my breath away. I now hate being in a new year in which I'll never know my daughter.

I decided to go to the party with Travis last night. I knew we'd be surrounded by people we love and who love us. But I knew I may not make it, and I told my feelings and thoughts to Travis. If it was up to me, we probably wouldn't have gone. But I wanted Travis to enjoy himself and not be brought down by my sadness. Throughout the night, I cried on and off. I cried when we arrived and I hugged a dear friend. I cried when a girl asked if this was my first baby and I had to go into the details of our children. I cried as I saw the clock getting later and later and finally got Travis out of there, just as I was beginning to really have a breakdown. I cried the whole way home, ready to just get back to our home and watch my little boy on our monitor. And as the clock struck midnight, I laid in the arms of my husband in a silent home sobbing. No midnight kiss or midnight Happy New Year celebration. Instead a sad reflection of our awful year and the pain that goes with it.

I think the biggest shock of all, is that we are quickly approaching the 1 year of her being gone. I literally get dizzy and sick feeling thinking that we've almost been without her a year. An entire year. I just can't wrap my head around that. That cool numbing feeling comes over me all over again, the heaviness I've talked about slips back into my life, and once again, I feel that grief is going to overtake me.

My New Years emotions were something that I wasn't anticipating. But as the week approached, I started to feel it creeping in. I know that 2012 has many things to offer, and we'll be welcoming Hadlee into our family. But the fear of not knowing what could possibly happen to our family is something that can almost be paralyzing. If someone would have told me on New years day 2011, that we would have the year we had, I would have never believed them. It leaves me fearful, once again. I'm hoping that this grief will ease and joy will return again. I will admit, there have been days that are happy days again. Days where I start to feel more like myself, although I know it'll never be the same as it was the day before she passed away. I miss her so much and I so wish she was here for me to care for. I hope she knows how incredibly much I love her and miss her and need her.

I'm hoping this year will provide us with the healing we need, the joy we deserve, and the HOPE we've been praying for.