Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Day 5 - {Mom and Dad}

100 days of gratitude tag  I look ahead to the next few days, and I am scared. Scared at what emotional earthquakes might be triggered by the anniversaries about to happen.

10/31 the last day I felt Benjamin move - the day he died

11/1 the day of my last doctor's appointment before the scheduled C-section - when I saw the doctor's face grow very serious and heard him say, "I'm not finding a heartbeat"

11/2 the day Mom and Dad and Joseph and Becky and Mandy and Ari arrived to help us - my last day to hold Benjamin inside me

11/3 the day he was born - our only day to see and hold him in this life

A few weeks ago, I mentioned to Mom that it would be so wonderful to have them here to help us celebrate Benjamin's birthday. I knew that they would come if they could, but I also knew she and Dad had been traveling a lot, and Dad is under a lot of pressure at work, so I tried to invite them in a way that wouldn't make them feel bad if they couldn't.


 20040928-2 Nana with Russell and Hyrum edit

Meanwhile, in case they couldn't come, we made plans to go up to northwestern Arkansas this weekend and see the fall colors. I couldn't stand the thought of being here at home alone for the Anniversaries.


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It is a 17 hour drive from Mom and Dad's house to ours.


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I just called them an hour and a half ago, and they were leaving to come!!

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They will take a detour to Dallas to pick up my sister Becky and her little cutie and arrive here tomorrow sometime.20060715-2 Nana with a sleeping Hyrum edit

I feel so blessed to have parents who would be willing to make such a drive just for a four-day visit to help one of their eight children!


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Monday, October 27, 2008

Vote for Family!

10 Yea, we see that Amalickiah, because he was a man of cunning device and a man of many flattering words, that he led away the hearts of many people to do wickedly; yea, and to seek to destroy the church of God, and to destroy the foundation of liberty which God had granted unto them, or which blessing God had sent upon the face of the land for the righteous’ sake.



Captain Moroni, Walter Rane (courtesy of Meridian Magazine)

I'm taking a break from my gratitude posts to get up on a soapbox. I don't like soapboxes, especially when other people get on them (ha!)! I am very tired of this election. I didn't even watch the last debate. BUT. . . .I am realizing there are crucial issues at stake here. There are people who want to redefine marriage as whatever you choose it to be. There are people who think it should stay legal to have abortions for convenience. We have the blessed freedom to lift our voice and VOTE. I pray the voice of the people may choose righteousness. I want so badly for my boys to be able to raise their children in a world that still values families!

11 And now it came to pass that when Moroni, who was the chief commander of the armies of the Nephites, had heard of these dissensions, he was angry with Amalickiah.

13 And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.

Alma 46:10-11, 13


For a while I had a really hard time deciding who to vote for in this election. After Mitt Romney left the race, I felt like I didn't really care anymore. (I still toy with the idea of writing him in on my ballot and sending mass emails asking everyone to do the same. Ya think it might work? :)) I've never been crazy about McCain, and Obama seemed interesting. . . .

But then I received an email from the Family Research Council that included a "voter's guide" to the candidates based on their voting records and public statements regarding family issues.

Here's what clinched the choice for me: 
Click on the .pdf link. It seems very well-researched, basing all information on actual votes McCain and Obama made in the past, and real quotes from their past speeches. It changed the way I think about them!

This sentence (below, in the blue) particularly resonates with me right now, and has also educated my decision. . .


I LOVED Stephanie Nielson's "Proc Week". Click on her artwork above to read her beautiful posts about "The Family: A Proclamation to the World."

Please vote for people and laws that will strengthen the family!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day 4 - {progress in healing}

100 days of gratitude tag

My wonderful therapist, Dan, recently talked with me about "dealing with the ghosts." There were things all around the house that were not touched or dealt with since finding out Benjamin died. I started handling them little by little when I could emotionally face it, but there are still several ghosts that cause me pain every time I see them.

Today with help from a precious friend, I dealt with one of them.

This has been sitting in our bedroom since last November 1st, the day I found out Benjamin had died.

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Almost every time I looked at it I felt nauseated. I very nearly tossed it in the garbage can, but I just couldn't. Here are some of the things that were stored in that bag.

  • silk autumn leaves --picked out at Michaels' with Janice last October -- Janice thought I should get the ones with shiny gold but I wanted them to be more natural-looking
  • a grapevine wreath from my sweet cousin Shirley
  • pinecones
  • acorns from a tree outside my OB's office ~ the day we picked them up was October 17, 2007--very memorable because it was DC's only time and my last time to see Benjamin alive--the day they gave me the extra ultrasound and he was being "so photogenic"
  • gold wired ribbon

Late October 2007. . . .Janice and I had planned all week that last week to sit down and glue this thing together, but we kept getting too busy with last-minute cleaning and organizing. She was leaving to go back to Florida on Thursday, Nov 1st, and offered to watch Hummer that morning while I went to my last appointment. Then when I got home we would finally make the wreath, and she would leave to go home.

That last appointment sent my world crashing down around me. And for poor Janice, it was a horrible way to end what had been a delightful visit. (She still grieves with me. I hope so much that she can come back sometime and visit Benjamin's grave and see this wreath now.)

Today, October 22, 2008 I pulled the dreaded bag from its spot. Even that hurt! Grief is such a crazy thing.

I had asked for special help from a dear friend who moved here recently and who has been so compassionate and loving to me. Andrea is amazing talented at things like this, and I knew she would be tender and sensitive to the pain this would probably unearth.

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I was excited when we got there, but as soon as I pulled everything out of the bag and saw what was there and started remembering, I just started bawling. Andrea just put her arms around me and let me cry and tell her every little detail about everything.



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Hummer played nearby most of the time, but he did come help glue on some of the acorns. :)

Andrea had the neat idea of putting Benjamin's initials on the apple. I used a gold metallic ink pad and stamped it on. I love how it turned out! (Isn't it interesting his initials also stand for "Be Right Back"? ~ awesome.)



I hung it up right when I got home. Words cannot express how good it feels to see it hanging on my front door. My heart wells up with the deepest gratitude when I see it. . . .gratitude for the progress I have made in this journey of grief!

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Dear Father, I thank Thee with all my heart for Janice, for Andrea, for this wreath, and most of all, for healing through Jesus Christ.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Day 3 - {cute little puppy for a cute little boy}

100 days of gratitude tag


When we first acquired our tiny Rubidium, I was enchanted by her sheer adorableness, but I had no idea how much real joy and delight she would bring to us. (And no idea how much real destruction, either--ahem!--but this IS a post about gratitude! :)


Yes, puppies are overly energetic, and need lots of attention, but with three little boys running around, this house obviously has no shortage of energy (a little more added to the mixture is hardly noticeable), and they give her Plenty of attention. Almost too much! Sometimes I send her outside just to get a break from them, bless her heart!


Her little cuteness has brought some much-needed comfort and distraction. It is so nice to take her for a walk and get accosted by little neighbor kids saying, "Aww. She's CUTE!" and wanting to pet her. I know it's not the same as having a baby, but it kind of fiDSCF3580lls in that gap as far as getting attention, ya know what I mean?


She definitely lightens up the mood around here with her spunky little personality.


And for Hummer, Ruby has been such a blessing. He is home all day every day with his boring, too-often-blue mama (we DO try to do fun stuff, I promise!), and Ruby has become his little buddy.



He takes her for walks. (She just can't stand those, can you tell? :)


He lets her lick his plate (after making sure with Mommy that it's dog-safe food).


He takes her for adventures in our rusted wheelbarrow with a flat tire--probably a good thing, cause it slows down the ride!


He even reads to her! Here he is reading "Chewy Louie." (I do hope it has inspired her to nobler, toothless actions! :)


I thank Thee, Heavenly Father, for this sweet little companion for my son at this particular time!


Friday, October 17, 2008

Day 2 - {my edward cullen}

100 days of gratitude tag

He grinned his crooked smile at me, stopping my breath and my heart. I couldn’t imagine how an angel could be any more glorious. There was nothing about him that could be improved upon.
Bella Swan, Twilight, Chapter 12, p.241


A few of you may be surprised that I love the "Twilight" series. I admit that the sensuality in the books does push the envelope as far as what I generally tolerate.

But here's why I love them so much:

They help me remember what it was like to first fall in love with the man whom I would marry. After 11 1/2 years of marriage (8 of which he was still in school), and 4 babies, sometimes daily life blurs those memories. But when I finished "Twilight" for the first time, I remembered that overpowering magnetic pull just to touch the one I love. I could feel the electric rush of our first few kisses. And it brought back memories of when we would talk for hours. When our time apart was spent counting the minutes until we were together again.

I am so lucky to have my own Edward Cullen! And, as I like to tease him, "You don't even have to suck my blood for us to be together forever!"

d.c. ~ e.c.

image_thumb2~He is so handsome. And in a young way. Many people meeting him for the first time have misjudged his age by about 15 years! And during the 13 years since I met him, he has changed very little. Like Edward's forever remaining 17. :)

~He cares about my feelings even more than his own.

~He is a perfect gentleman. He opens doors for me, and teaches our sons to do the same.

~He protects me. Maybe not from speeding trucks and enraged vampires, but he does handle all the spiders! (Yech).

~He has amazing musical talents. There have been memorable, romantic evenings when he has played just for me. (You would not believe how attractive a man playing Bach just for you can be!)

~I feel like Bella did when he returns from a long absence, "the strangest sense of relief — as if I’d been in pain and that pain had suddenly ceased" (Bella Swan, Eclipse, Chapter 1, p.17).

~No, he doesn't glitter in the sun. But he does tend to sneeze when he looks at the sun! teehee

~He has amber flecks in his eyes. I like to spend a lot of time looking into them.

~I really, really like to kiss him. And I really, really love to feel his arms around me.

~He listens to me, even when I'm completely emotional, and when I ramble on and on. He wants me to be happy.


As I think about gratitude and the things my Father in Heaven has blessed me with, I place my DC at the very top of the list.

In the past year, he has proven himself to be not only as loving as ever, but amazingly steady and constant. When I was in the throes of profound grief, having to fight even to get up in the morning and face another day without my baby, he got the boys up, made them breakfast, and took them to school. He never made me feel bad for this, or like a slacker. He has been so understanding. On nights when we were supposed to be having a date but I couldn't make myself be happy enough to even enjoy a movie, he brushed my hair and let me cry. He has cried with me, prayed for me, fasted for me, given me Priesthood blessings.

Oh, yes. I am so thankful for my husband.

I hope you have your own "DC", too.



Thursday, October 16, 2008

Day 1 - {A date from heaven}

100 days of gratitude tag

I was inspired by you, Andrea, and what your mom suggested to help you through your difficult days. My mom says, too, that it will help to focus every day on something I am grateful for.


So, I hereby begin 100 Days of Gratitude!



I can't believe I almost didn't ever post about this. The only reason I remembered was because I was trying to think of something I'm grateful for! :)

A couple of weeks ago (10/3/08) I took the boys to Arkansas Symphony's Children's Concert. This is a tradition for us--it's a way for the boys to get to see Daddy at work. There was a surprise guest artist there from Cirque de la Symphonie (affiliated with Cirque de Soleil--a few of their artists tour and collaborate with symphony DSCF3477orchestras). The group had been booked for the Pops concerts that weekend, and one of them volunteered to come entertain during the Children's Concert that day.

All of us were mesmerized, and I left the concert burning with curiosity for what the grownup concert would be like, especially when DC showed me the music they would be playing for them! It included such treats as the March from Prokofiev's "Love for Three Oranges", Saint-Saens' "Bacchanale", Bartok's "Roumanian Dances",  and Bach's "Toccata and Fugue".

I wanted REALLY, REALLY badly to go.

But there was no way.

Not only could we not afford a ticket (DC could get them half-price, but we heard they started at $50!), but we also were not in the running to be able to get a babysitter. I gave up on the idea, hoping that someday perhaps they would come again, and I would have another chance.

That evening during DC's rehearsal, my friend Stephanie stopped by, just to visit. We talked for a couple of hours, about all kinds of things. (I guess I had really needed a listening ear--what's new?!) She asked if I was going to Chris's concert, and I explained why I wasn't. She said, "Well, I'd be happy to watch the boys for you."

Wow!! This was a truly awesome gift. Stephanie is just coming back to church, facing some pretty hard challenges, due to her husband's lack of support. She teaches 3rd grade and has 3 kids of her own. She is so, so busy, and has many of her own trials. That she would be willing to do this meant a LOT. I couldn't very well let the price of the ticket stand in my way now!

I got online and found that there were tickets starting at $17 way up in the nosebleed section. With DC's discount, that would be $8.50. We could handle that! :)

It felt so, so good to get all dressed up and head out the door with my handsome violinist husband in his tux. I even put on perfume for the first time in ages! I actually felt beautiful, even though I'm still 20 pounds overweight. It was awesome!

We realized on the way there that it has been months since we went on a date outside our home together. I can't tell you how great it felt! I really, really needed this. DC worried that I wouldn't be able to see very well from the upper balcony, but I told him I didn't mind. I was just so happy to be able to go relax away from home.

DC dropped me off at the ticket office, and I went in and asked for a ticket with my musician-spouse discount. The ticket office lady said, "You're a musician's wife? Here, let me give you this ticket. Someone just turned it in, it's already paid for, go enjoy!" She handed me a $50 ticket for the middle of the mezzanine! I almost started crying right there in front of her.

Like I said, a date from heaven. Or rather, a date from Heavenly Father! This was such a miracle to me! To sit and enjoy the beauty of live music and the artistry of those amazing dancers was so soothing to my spirit.

Thank You, dear Father! Thank You for a compassionate friend, for a free ticket, for powerful music, for the agility and grace of the human body, and for eyes, ears, and heart to enjoy this special evening.



{100 Days of Gratitude} archive

100 days of gratitude tag

"Thinking of things we are grateful for is a healing balm. It helps us get outside ourselves. It changes our focus from our pains and our trials to the abundance of this beautiful world we live in."

--Joseph B. Wirthlin (Ensign, March 2004, p. 26)

Days 1-10: 10/16/2008 to 12/7/2008

Day 1 - {A date from heaven}

Day 2 - {my edward cullen}

Day 3 - {cute little puppy for a cute little boy}

Day 4 - {progress in healing}

Day 5 - {Mom and Dad}

Day 6 - {our new chickens}

Day 7 - {a seven-hour drive}

Day 8 - {modern prophets}

Day 9 - {Thanks-Giving}

Day 10 - {my testimony}


Days 11-20: 12/18/2008 to 4/3/2009

Day 11 - {a most adorable niece who knows just what to say to melt my heart}

Day 12 - {a healthy body}

Day 13 - { christmas }

Day 14 - {my winter baby}

Day 15 - { love from a Sister }

Day 16 - {an invincible summer }

Day 17 - {a gradual opening}

Day 18 - { photoshop! }

Day 19 - { baby brother bookend }

Day 20 - { life with exacto, fluffy, and hummer }


Days 21-30: 4/6/2009 to 7/17/2009

Day 21 - { heavenly conference weekend }

Day 22 - { easter morning }

Day 23 - { the little lost library book that now is found }

Day 24 - { twelve years of real-life romance }

Day 25 - { Beloved Becky }

Day 26 - {better-than-we-deserve neighbors}

Day 27 - {christmas dreaming}

Day 28 - {my lake isle of Inisfree}

Day 29 - { Fluffy }

Day 30 - { DC's job }


Days 31-40: 7/25/2009 to 10/21/2009

Day 31 - {A/C}

Day 32 - { mrs. tapa }

Day 33 - { ultrasound results }

Day 34 - { the Priesthood }

Day 35 - { my mother-in-love }

Day 36 - { my mother }

Day 37 - { beloved Rosy }

Day 38 - { you }

Day 39 - { my Dad }

Day 40 - { time }


Days 41-50: 10/31/2009 to

Day 41 - {.new traditions.}

Day 42 - {our celestial son}

Day 43 - { Suzie-Q }

Day 44 - {Zion in central Arkansas}

Day 45 - { joys of having boys }

Day 46 - { "Our Christmas Eve Miracle, part 3" }

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day



In 2006, a bill was passed designating October 15 as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

It is so sad that such a thing is necessary--doesn't it seem like with all the amazing medical advances this would never happen anymore?! I wish I were still innocent enough to think that babies don't really die in our modern day! But, having become a member of the "club that nobody wants to join", I wanted to post this to help spread awareness of the pain felt by those who have lost babies, whether before or after birth.

{a pair of shoes}

i am wearing a pair of shoes
they are ugly shoes
uncomfortable shoes
i hate my shoes
each day i wear them, and each day i wish i had another pair
some days my shoes hurt so bad that i do not think i can take another step
yet, i continue to wear them
i get funny looks wearing these shoes
they are looks of sympathy
i can tell in others' eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs
they never talk about my shoes
to learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable
to truly understand these shoes you must walk in them
but, once you put them on, you can never take them off
i now realize that i am not the only one who wears these shoes
there are many pairs in this world
some woman are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them
some have learned how to walk in them so they don't hurt quite as much
some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt
no woman deserves to wear these shoes
yet, because of these shoes i am a stronger woman
these shoes have given me the strength to face anything
they have made me who i am
i will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

~author unknown


This poem is all too real for me. It helps express how grief over a child doesn't ever go away, although one can learn to "walk so that it doesn't hurt quite as much."

How grateful I am for the beloved ones in my life who do talk about my "shoes" and truly try to understand during this time that I'm learning to walk in them! Ya'll are awesome. :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monument to a precious little boy

When we first realized that we had the painful task of choosing where our baby should be buried, it was somewhat of a quandary. We have never planned to stay in Arkansas. Our families live out west, and it has always seemed like that's where "Home" is. How could we bury Benjamin here, only to leave him behind later on?

Gratefully, the Spirit prompted me to remember pioneer ancestors who buried babies on the plains and had to immediately continue westward. I cannot even imagine the agony that would be. At least we have some time here first, to be able to visit often for a while! Also we know that this will only be a resting place for him in mortality, and we will have all eternity to be with him someday. Realizing these things consoled us somewhat as we decided to have him buried here. I hope that by the time we do move away, it will not seem like the wrenching pain that it would be right now.

While I was in Arizona in the first few weeks after Benjamin's death, I took the opportunity to try to get his headstone designed. I knew I wanted a picture of the Mesa Temple on it, and I didn't think that would be easy to come by out here. With the help of my mom and sisters, we settled on a design. . . .only to come back to Arkansas and find out that the cemetary had specific rules that the marker must be made of bronze. The AZ company dealt only with granite, so now we were back at square one.

Eventually that all got worked out, but meanwhile my parents had an idea. Why not purchase the granite stone we had designed and create a monument on their property? It would be a place where we could always visit, even after we move away from Arkansas. My parents own their property outright and plan never to move, so this would be a permanent place to be able to sit and remember this beloved angel son/grandson.




They asked what we thought of this idea, and of course we LOVED it. The tender generosity of it still overwhelms me.

So they selected a spot near a giant sandstone boulder in their yard, and purchased the granite marker we had designed.




My brother Douglas, who is now on a mission in Costa Rica, dug a huge hole, so that they could plant a special tree to shade the spot. I love that we can watch it grow over the years, and think about our baby and when we will get to watch him grow. :) Mom planted a "ball willow", a beautiful tree that grows well in the high desert.




We were fortunate to be there for the final steps. Dad borrowed a diamond-tipped saw blade to cut into the sandstone, and we got to help him chisel out a spot for the granite.




It felt so good to work on something for Benjamin! Dad and DC did most of the chiseling and cutting, but I did some, too.




Testing to see if the stone fits. . . .



It didn't yet. A couple of days later, though, the chiseling was done, and a near-perfect spot had been carved out. They hefted the granite into place, and then Dad used liquid nail to seal it into the stone.




I planted zinnias and some white petunias around the special tree.


monument flowers


What an amazing gift, to have this place always to be able to visit and to watch his tree grow! Thank you ever so much, Mom and Dad! I love you.



Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thilent Thurthday

(because I missed Wordless Wednesday. :))


2005 1021 The Old Mill 18

Exacto at The Old Mill - October 2005

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fluffy's Formidable Talent

We got these cool-pioneer-toy-spinner-doohickeys when we visited Cove Fort last year. If you've never heard of them, they're round disks on a string that you twist by swinging around on your fingers. Then you let go, and keep the tension by pulling in and out, the and disk spins like crazy, forward and backward perpetually, for as long as you care to do it.

It's actually harder than it looks! It took my boys a little while to catch on to how to do it, but now they're PROS. Check out these sweet moves from Fluffy. . . .


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rock-climbing 27.09.08

We had a blast at the Fall Fest a couple of Saturdays ago, and the highlight was *free rock-climbing*! Hummer was too small, but Exacto and Fluffy gave it a try, and Exacto even made it all the way to the top. (Look at the next-to-last picture to see how high that was.)


Friday, October 3, 2008

Eleven months

Mother's Love, Greg Olsen


“And the earth shall be given unto them for an inheritance;

and they shall multiply and wax strong,

and their children shall grow up without sin unto salvation.

For the Lord shall be in their midst,

and his glory shall be upon them,

and he will be their king and their lawgiver.”

Doctrine and Covenants 45:58-59

There is a song I recently discovered, thanks to Bro. Wilberg's wonderful arrangement on Consider the Lilies. I love the lightness and beauty of his arrangement, but the song really struck deep down into my heart after I played another setting of it. This one was for violin and piano, by Ron Harris. I wanted so badly to record it with Chris and include it with this post! He simply didn't have the time to do it this week. (So if we happen to get it done in the future, I'll try to remember to add it . . . .)

For now, though, let me just try to express some of the feelings I had when we played this song together.


There will come a morning when I wake up to see my baby close at hand.

A morning when I look out the window to see a renewed, paradisiacal earth.

A beginning.

A beginning to many fresh mornings, as Benjamin grows up without sickness, pain, or sin.

A beginning to days of endless joy.

A time when the Savior Himself will walk among us.


This song makes real to me the morning after the Millennium begins, when earth will appear as the Garden of Eden.


Morning Has Broken

(Eleanor Farjeon)

Morning has broken, like the first morning;

Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.

Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning!

Praise for them springing fresh from the Word!


Sweet the rain's new fall sunlit from heaven,

Like the first dewfall on the first grass.

Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,

Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.


Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning

Born of the one light Eden saw play!

Praise with elation, praise ev'ry morning,

God's re-creation of the new day!


goChristWithChild 001

Take My Hand, Greg Olsen

Thursday, October 2, 2008

real-life angels

Just after Benjamin's graveside service, there was some time for people to come and hug us and offer comfort. After a while, and many had come and gone, suddenly I found myself in a circle of sisters from my ward family. They were talking to me and each other, but I don't remember a word they said. One found a chair for me to sit on. And one started rubbing my shoulders and back. They encircled me and just carried my pain with me for a while. I felt ministered to. I knew these sisters would be there for me after my beloved family left to go home. I knew that they were sent to me at this particular time by a loving Heavenly Father. As they lifted and strengthened me I felt His love. When I think back on this moment and envision their faces, they radiate in my memory. The picture below was taken before the moment I'm talking about, but it shows a few of the real-life angels that were there that day.


This is a beautiful memory I will always carry in my heart.


Since sending that post yesterday I have felt surrounded again by angels. In my pain I reached out, and you reached back! You'll never know how much your words and prayers strengthened me and lifted me. I literally felt a peace enter my heart. It was still a hard day, and I did spend time crying. But I didn't feel alone! Thank you so much.

Thank you for being my angels. This month may be an especially hard one, but I feel comforted that I can share my feelings here and you will understand and love me through it. I hope I will be there for you, too, when you need me!