Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Habits hard to break

When you spend 4 1/2 years raising a child, you develop mindless habits concerning them...things you are not aware of that you do...until they are gone.

At night, before bed, I find myself tidying up my crochet projects, hiding any visible "treats", or putting anything away that I don't want Vienne to get into in the morning.

In the car, I've found myself quietly and "sneakily" trying open up a piece of Vienne wouldn't hear and ask for one.

I tiptoe downstairs and am careful not to bang around in the kitche at naptime...because Vienne slept with her door open.

At the grocery store I find myself mindlessly looking at different kinds of snacks that Vienne would've liked.

I fight the urge to hold my hand out when I cross a street.

I still look towards the bedroom doorway when I hear something in the middle of the night...a habit developed in response to midnight potty breaks or bad dreams.

I most often say "Vienne" when I'm talking about Ivy.  If I start to use the "stern" voice with Ivy, I typically start with "Vi...Ivy"...or even in addressing Ivy.  All the time.  Her name is just always on the tip of our tongues.

...these are just a few of the little things.   Small daily reminders that I had a beautiful little girl...and now I don't.

Today, I am more aware of these things than other days for today is the first time that I have stayed home all day, alone with Ivy.  No errands to run to distract me.  No visitors.  I need to practice having these days because this is going to be my new "normal".  It's just hard.  I sit in any room of this new house and Vienne is everywhere...yet, she is nowhere.

>here is a small video of myself and V when she was 2.  We are keeping ourselves occupied in a restaurant.  Someone mentioned that they don't see me in any of the videos...that's cuz I'm usually the one taking them.  I thought I'd include a rare one of the two of us.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

{Home Videos}: Silly times together. Oct. 2010

We still have so many more videos to post on this blog.  I want them all on here...this one place dedicated just to her.  I am so glad that we are those parents - the ones that try to record and capture everything by photo or video.  We are obsessed with our girls.
Mark and I found some more hidden on his computer yesterday.  These two that I'm sharing today are just too cute.  Well, they're all just too cute, aren't they?  She was too much cuteness.  It is easier for me to watch the ones of when she is feels more detached.  She is two years old in these much different from four years old. 

Oh, her voice...her mannerisms...her all just stops my heart, catches my breath...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Survival Mode

I have just been feeling so frustrated with my lack of emotion lately.  This has been a really tough week and you would think that I would be a complete wreck... but I'm not.  Instead, I feel numb and bottled up.

This is our first week living in our new house.  You see, we've spent the last 6 weeks living at my parent's house.  My family found us a quick rental the weekend after Vienne passed.  There was no way I could go back to our home where it all happened.  But, once we moved everything into the new house, I just could not move into it.  I have felt that once I move here, I will be taking the first steps towards moving life without her.  And, that kills me.  But, I eventually realized that there was never going to be "the right time" to move in.  We would just have to leave the safety of my parent's house and do it.  So, we did. And, it should be a really hard week for me, emotionally. Considering a bunch of other crap that has transpired this week, (Ivy's health is not well and she is not sleeping well, just to name a few) I should be falling apart.  But instead, I am seeing that my way to cope through everything in my new life, is to shove any feelings I have deep down into hidden recesses where it is very difficult to dig back up.  I feel like a walking zombie.  Just my presence with friends makes them cry...but me?  No, I just sit there, blank, feeling nothing.  Somedays, lately, I will get through an entire day and look back and realize, with horror, that I barely thought about Vienne.  I get up in the mornings and I put on my hard shell and plow through the day.  Days are not good, days are not bad...they are just days. 
Last night, I stayed up late, craving to feel feel sick of this numbness, this hard shell I've created to protect myself.  So, I watched her memorial service video.  I have only watched this twice before, and one of those times was at the service.  It is one of the things that can reduce me to racking sobs.  And then, of course after watching this, I realized why I make myself so numb.  Why everyone else can carry their emotion for Vienne on their sleeve and why I cannot.  Because my pain is sooo damn debilitating...sooo sooo deep and unbearable that there is no way I would be able to take care of Ivy if I lived in it every moment of every day...or even dwelt on it often.  When I go to that place, I will dwell on sweet memories of her and then suddenly, my mind will smack myself in the face with the cold heartless truth of things...and then I will go to the place of reliving that horrible morning and filling myself with blame over and over again.  I will obsess over how I could have possibly prevented I could've changed things just by a different choice.  "I should've stayed upstairs and changed her sheets...they needed changing that morning"..."I should've brought my breakfast smoothie upstairs to drink it there like I would on other days"..."I should've called to her when I heard her show end"..."I shouldn't have read my damn Bible!"..."I should've stayed near her body while the paramedics worked on her and I should've laid hands on her and prayer harder"..."I should've prayed harder"..."I should've demanded that they not give up!"  But it's all useless.  I know.  And, so I must keep carrying on.  I have to raise Ivy.  And, to do that I have to get up in the mornings and continue a routine for her.  I am a good mother and I will not dishonor Vienne by being anything less for her dear little sister.  And, so I must put on my cold hard protective shell and plow through my days.  I cannot sit and stare at her pictures and think too long...I have to just keep going.

And, I hate it.  I hate it so much.

I know that I will need grief counseling - I am fully aware of that.  I am scared of it, though.  I am scared that they will try to "fix me"...try to make me happy enjoy life eventually.  And, that just makes me sick.  But, I do know that I need to find a healthy balance with my emotions.  I want a healthy balance.  I want to feel her through the days, be able to shed some tears, but then be able to carry on.  I cannot find that balance right now.  It has to be one extreme or the other.  Right now, I am choosing the extreme that is helping me to survive each day and be what I need to be for Ivy.  But, each day that I carry on like this, I feel further and further ripped away from my beloved Vienne.

At night, I keep rolling over to Mark and saying "I'm done now.  I want to go home.  This was a sick test and I am ready for it to be over...where is our Baby??"

But, I'm not even close to done.

Here is a video of just a happy memory at home, with my family.  These were our typical evenings together.  I want to go home.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Our favorite spot

(oh my goodness, look how beautiful she is)

Smith Berry Barn.

This was our go-to family outing spot on a sunny afternoon in the summer over the last few years.  A darling berry picking farm with chickens and goats to feed, as well as a beautiful Barn store full of gourmet gift goodies.  We would go pick berries, grab a lunch, sit in the grass, and feed the goats.  Beautiful peaceful scenery out in the little town of Scholls, west of the Murray Hill area.  This was one of Vienne's absolutely most favorite places.  She would spend hours feeding those goats.  She would hunt the grasses for dandelions and clovers to feed to them.  She was so gentle and brave.  Of course.
I drive by this spot to visit one of my dearest friends.  It holds so many memories of joy and sunshine.  I hope that I will be able to go back and enjoy it with Ivy someday in the future.  But, definitely not for a long time.

(you can't tell, but she is wearing my nursing cover as an apron to protect her white shirt...why would I put her in a white shirt to go betty picking?! oops)

I so miss my life. I miss the joy, the laughter, the sunshine.

Here is a memory letter from my Mom to Vienne, centered around our sentiments for this Berry Barn~

I miss you so much, my sweet Vienne.  My heart literally aches with a pain pressure.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m having a heart attack it hurts so much…and I guess I am.  My heart is attacked with you – the joy of memories clashing with deep sorrow.  I think of you nearly every moment of the day.  Everywhere I turn, everywhere I go, you are a part of my day…memories everywhere.  I am thankful for memories.  I want to hold you, my love.  I want to hear you, see you at the top of the stairs when I come to your house, exclaiming, “GRAMMY!”  I relive moments that you would say my name with excitement and run into my arms and then act just a little bit shy.  I loved to tell you, “VN, you are my friend!”  And I meant it, truly.  You will always be my friend.  I can’t wait to play with you again.  I loved it when you would say “Grammy!  Let’s play!”  And we would.  And we will.

   Honey, do you remember the day we went to the Berry Farm in Scholls to feed the goats?  How I loved that day.  You ran all the way around the goat pen, to the back side, in search of more dandelion blossoms to feed the goats.  You came running back with your hand cupped….”Grammy!  Look what I found!”  And you uncurled your delicate little hand to reveal the tiniest little bird cupped in your palm.  A little tiny blue bird, made of, perhaps porcelain.  How you ever found that tiny thing in the tall grass, I do not know.  You always had this way with picking out the “tiny little things” – you were so delicate and careful.  This little bird was a treasure for you to find…a little gift, just for you.  And we took that little tweetie bird back to your house and that’s what consumed you for the rest of the day.  We made a little nest out of playdough for it, we put it to bed, we fed it.  You introduced it to your other friends – Tornado, Alice, and the others.  It is a day cemented in my memory forever with you.

    After you left us and mommy and daddy were going through your toys & I asked them if they had found that little blue tweetie bird, but they had not.  It was so tiny.  I was sad. 

    Then, about 2 weeks later, mommy was looking through your toy box and somehow…there it was!  She brought it home to me and I burst into tears at the sight of it!  Such a little thing…but such a huge and sweet memory for Grammy.  It sits on my kitchen window sill with 2 other birdies to keep it company.  I am so thankful that God brought that little bird back to me so that I can keep you close in that memory every day, my love, my enchantment, my darling girl. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Grief 101: Understanding grief

It goes without saying that I am learning much more about grief than I ever wanted to in my life.  Things I was so ignorant to, before.
Grief is such a vile monster.  Grief is so life sucking.  Grief is a dark yet soothing place.  Grief is where I feel closest to my Vienne.  Grief is something that causes people to either draw near or pull away.  Grief is irrational.  Grief is unpredictable.  Grief is intimidating.  Grief is awkward and uncomfortable.  Grief is a true bitch. (I feel entitled to my profanities at this stage in my life.  I'm not going to apologize.)
I have been frustrated and irritated these past few days since my last post about the "Answer".  Not at anyone...just at myself.  I am thankful for the "answer" that I received because it brought a hesitation or stillness towards my anger at God...but it did not bring a peace about the loss of Vienne.  That's the difference.  Even though I have been demanding an answer, at the same time I feel that it is too soon to receive one that is so clear.  This is where I get irrational.  I am not ready to have peace.  I am definitely not ready to "be ok".  See, this is where I am finding that some people get confused.  Grief over the loss of a child is hard to understand and you truly cannot unless you've been there.  The way that Mark and I feel is that when we have something closer to a "good day" or a "peaceful moment", we feel further away from Vienne.  We feel closest to her when we mourn and weep and feel heavy and dark.  I know that doesn't make sense.  I know that Vienne is light and laughter.  But, the fact that every day is another day further away from the time when she was alive and every day further along is another day of "moving on" is just painful to us.  We are soooo fearful of moving on...because it feels like we are leaving her behind.  We do not like to be "wished well"...we do not like prayers for "peace"...we do not like attempts at encouraging us or bringing us joy.  For you see, there is nothing that will bring us peace about our daughter being dead.

The reason I have been so frustrated since my last post is also because I have sensed this almost relief from people that there might be a glimpse of me "healing" or "getting better".  And, I do not want that yet.  It is too fresh.  Too raw.  Too soon.  I understand that friends just want to see me happy again.  But, I cannot feel rushed to carry on and get past this.  I panic when I sense that pressure.  I have heard that the "public" gives you 3 months to grieve and then there is an unsaid expectance to move on.  I have also heard that the 3-6 month mark is the hardest on those who are grieving...a lot is due to the fact that friends have pulled away and moved on and expect you to move on...and then those who are grieving are left alone.  I am soooo freaked out about this thought.  I cannot be left alone or expected to get better.  How can you be expected to live without your beloved that you have passionately loved and spent almost every moment with for 4 1/2 years?!

I must clarify, though, that I have received INCREDIBLE support through this.  My friends and family are beyond amazing.  Overall, I do not feel pressure from those I am closest to at all.  The commitment in consistency from them has blessed me more than they know.  And, the way this has dramatically affected everyone, even those I do not know, has astounded me.  I am just writing this/sharing this out of fear for the future.  Things I have been told to be aware of or to expect.  I really do not expect, though, to be abandoned by my dearests friends.  I don't. 

And, for those who do not know what to say ~ I get that.  I get the awkwardness.  The discomfort and nervousness about saying the wrong thing.  Truly, I do.  I have learned so many humbling lessons, even through this.  You see, my stepfather Tom, lost his daughter 6 years ago.  She was murdered.  It was horrible.  And, sadly, I just didn't know how to act around Tom.  I did not know her.  I was not close to him yet.  And, I was incredibly uncomfortable with grief.  I failed my stepdad in so many ways that it brings me to tears now, in shame.  He needed the support that I am receiving now, and he didn't get a fraction of it.  But, now I understand.  I understand that we need to be asked how we are doing.  We need to talk about Vienne.  We need to talk about our grief.  We need to feel comfortable to cry...or to not cry.  I am so blessed, though, to have Tom by my side through this...he has been one of our biggest supporters.  His emotional availability, empathy, and spiritual encouragement are priceless.  So, all this to say that these have been my lessons in grief.  I share them with you so that maybe you can glean from this. 

Please don't be afraid of us.  Honestly, the best thing to say is "this is the most horrific awful worst unimaginable thing ever!  And, I have no words, Jenny".  Just acknowledging that makes me feel a tad better.  If you want to pray for us - pray for strength for us to cope through the rest of our lives without Vienne.  If you want to hang out with us, please ask us about the grief.  Please do not be afraid to talk about Vienne.  Just, please, do not ignore her.  We are not ones to shut it down.  It soothes us to talk about it and about her.  (as you can tell - I am a very open and honest person...just from this blog).

Thank you for reading this.  And, thank you to all of you who take the time to comment on here or send me an email/message/text sharing your thoughts on my words.  I cherish each one.  And, I will save them so that I can look back and read everything over and over again.  I do not want to lose one morsel in regards to Vienne. 

(FYI:  For those who have asked, I think I have fixed the comment section on this blog.  Now anyone should be able to comment.  Just click the drop menu and select "Anonymous" - and please sign your name, then, so I know who you are.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

{Home Video}: Narballs?....wha??

Just to lighten the mood a bit (before I dump my heart out again in the next post!) - here is a silly video.  Vienne could often make characters out of anything and play with them.  She had made "friends" out of torn pieces of napkin (yes, napkin...a large torn piece for the Daddy, medium for the Mommy and little for the Baby), rocks, name it.  Yes, she had real toys.  But all parents know - kids really don't need "real toys" now do they? 
This is a video of Vienne playing with some of my crochet hooks.  Her voice is kind of quiet in the beginning..but if you listen you can catch that she is making conversation between the crochet family members.  My favorite part is the end, of course.  This was the first time I had ever heard of this new "place".

Sunday, October 14, 2012

An answer

As I have pined and ached for my Vienne these past 5+ weeks, I have been grappling desperately for an answer.  An answer to all of my incessant "WHYs?!!"  Blaming myself is easy to fall prey to.  Whenever I hear any new piece of information regarding her death, I find myself obsessing over how it was probably my fault and how I could've/should've done something differently.  My inner dark side almost yearns to find a way to blame myself.  But, that is so destructive.  My head knows that.  It is a downward spiral that could lead me to some very dark places.

As I've strongly mentioned before, I then turn to blaming God...for nothing else in this world makes sense.  This was not an accident, this was not a consequence, this was not negligence.  Every detail of her death just seems so unearthly orchestrated.  It is becoming more and more clear to many of us that this most likely would've happened whether she was in the water or not.  Being in the tub was a coincidence.  It makes me sick to think that a child can die just so damn easily...but that seems to be the case here.  And, yes, it is maddening.  On so many levels.  Raging against God is my quickest answer when my grief is intense. 

But, this conflicts so much with everything I've ever known about God.  One perspective has been presented to me:  that, perhaps, "God really is not as in control as we think.  That He severely limited His sovereignty at the moment of creation".  Hm.  This just does not sit well with me and it is something I will have to read more on, I suppose.  But, in relation to my situation here, I am realizing that I do not like that perspective so much.  I realize that if I cannot put the responsibility of this into God's hands....well, I don't like any other alternative.  When presented with this thought that He possibly is not in as much control as we thought, I find myself filling with more fear.  Even though I am angry, oh so angry at Him, in the same moment I think I want it to be Him who planned this...and no other source.  Because, as much as I hate to admit it, I do know that God has ultimate good plans...beyond what we see in our limited views. 

So, I have my own new perspective that I am growing more comfortable with.  An answer that I am slowly starting to cling to that may help me get through this (not out of it...I will never be out of my grief for the loss of my daughter).  I woke the other morning with a strange thought...that she had been raptured early.  It nagged on my brain and heart all day.  Maybe, just maybe, she was so good and pure and predominantly without flaw that God wanted to spare her from the hells of this harsh world.  Maybe she didn't need to learn any "life lessons" like we all have to learn.  She had all the essentials already.  She had that deep wisdom and understanding of the simplicity of Christ's love and truth.  And, she acted those things out in her short life.  This does not mean that I'm not still angry about her being wrenched from my loving arms, but every time I think of this perspective I do feel less guilty and more like it was out of my hands and my control...and maybe...possibly...for a good purpose.  ??

Many many people have made comments to me about how it seems that the good spirits do tend to generally die early.  A pat answer.  A simple platitude.  But, it is something that I have been thinking heavily about and obsessing over "why?".  So, of course, while playing on the computer, I went looking on the internet for theories (desperately grappling for answers...I know).  I immediately came upon a hypothetical story that sent shivers down my spine and had me sobbing.  It was written in answer to the question:  "Why do some of the best die young?".  The source happens to be a Jewish website.  We believe in the same after you read this, you will understand why the source is inconsequential.  Here is the story (I did not change one word):

"A great debate once raged in heaven. It was over a most beautiful and precious new soul that God had created. The angels debated what should be done with this soul. One group of angels demanded that this soul remain in heaven. "She is too pure, too holy to face the ugliness of the lowly world," they said. "Who knows what will happen to her in a world of temptation and evil. This soul must stay with us here."
But the other group of angels said the exact opposite: "Indeed this soul glows with a unique divine glow. But for that very reason she must go down to earth. For imagine the beauty and goodness this soul can bring to a dark world. What good is there in keeping such a soul in heaven? Let her descend to earth and shine her light there."
And so they argued back and forth, each side unshakable in their view. Until it became clear that they could not resolve the issue themselves, they needed a Higher Authority. The case was brought before God Almighty. The angels stated their arguments before the heavenly court. God listened to the two opinions -the first group of angels arguing that this unspoiled soul is too holy to be plunged into the lowly world, the second countering that the world needs such souls more than anything.
And this was God's response:
"Indeed, it is sad to send such an immaculate soul into such a dark world. But this is My will. I only created darkness so souls like this one can transform darkness into light. The whole purpose of creation was that the lowly world be refined by the good deeds of mortal human beings. This cannot be achieved by souls in heaven. It can only be achieved through souls in bodies. And so even this most perfect and pure soul must descend to earth."
The first group of angels, who requested for the soul to remain in heaven, were disappointed. They couldn't fathom how such a spiritual being could be expected to survive such a physical world. God turned to them and said, "As for your request to keep this soul up here, I will grant it partially. Though she must leave us and go down to earth, it will not be long before she will return to us. Her sojourn on earth will be brief. Such a brilliant soul will not need long to fulfil her mission. Soon she will be free to come back to heaven."
Every day that she is on earth is a blessing.  God then turned to the second group and asked, "Are you satisfied with that? Do you accept that this soul can only be on earth for a limited time?"
The angels replied, "Yes we do. Every day that she is on earth is a blessing.""

Was this not just written precisely about my little Girl??!!!  The more I read it, the more I feel that I have been directed to the answers that I have been so frantically searching for.  I am increasingly convinced that this story was written about Vienne.  And, this I could live with.  Yes, the pain of her gone is still soooo fresh and unbearable.  Of course, I feel like I cannot live without her.  But, the truth of it that I am.  It's been 5+ weeks and I am living.  Against my will, I am carrying on.  This perspective...this story, I believe though, is something that could progressively bring me peace.  This perspective, as much as it pains me to be so mature to admit, makes me feel honored to have been chosen to be her mommy.  I hate that she was taken from me.  I Hate hate hate it.  But, when I dwell on that hate, I fall more apart. 

So.  This is my answer.  I believe that this was divinely given to me.  I didn't even pray for it, for I have not prayed in 5 weeks.  But, I was directed to this despite my rebellion against God.  And, I do not want to be told anything else.

This is what I will believe.  And this, I will strive to hold onto when I fall into my regular downward spirals of grief.
(my pure and holy angel Baby)

A beautiful and appropriate song by one of my favorite artists:

Friday, October 12, 2012

from the mouths of babes

Since Vienne passed away, friends have been sharing stories with me regarding their kid's reactions to Vienne's passing.  Sweet friends of Vienne's.  You never realize the astounding depth of children until something big like this happens.  These stories from little hearts touch mine so deeply.

>From Lilly, 6 yrs. old ~  Lilly drew a picture of two children.  One girl is Vienne, with a sad face.  The other child has an arm extended, about to hit Vienne.  Lilly explained that "When someone hits her, she doesn't hit back.  She is just sad.  I want to be like that!"

     ~Lilly also prays every night for our family.  One night, out of the blue, she asked God for a heart like Vienne's.  *tears*

(Lilly at Vienne's 4th Birthday Tea Party)

     ~ The week after Vienne's passing, Lilly's mommy, Lauren, hosted a play group in honor of Vienne.  The kids drew pictures and wrote letters to Vienne and released balloons up to Heaven for her.

   ~ I thought I would also include this photo of Vienne, taken by Lilly at her house while V was over playing.  (I should mention that Vienne was also best friends with Lilly's little sister, Jane.  Two sweet and special friends).

(photo by Lilly...she captured my sweet Girl's stunning smile)

(Lilly, Lauren (their Mommy), and Jane making necklaces at Vienne's Birthday Party)

>From Caleb, 6 yrs. old ~ Caleb's response when first told the news, 'Well.  The only good thing about this is that she's with Jesus.  But that's the only good thing.'
(Caleb and Vienne, May 2011)

>Malachi (Caleb's brother), 3 yrs. old ~ Malachi cried and cried and cried when his mom, Lacey, first told him.  His response was, 'But she was the rainbow princess!  She was just the princess at Caleb's party!'
     ~ The boys continue to respond by saying, 'She's with Jesus and we'll see her when Jesus makes the world new and we can play dragons with her again.  I bet she plays dragons with Jesus. 
(Malachi) And yeah!  She's the Rainbow Princess with Jesus now!'

(Malachi & Caleb - boys after Vienne's heart.  Oh, be still my heart)

> From Natalie, 3 yrs. old ~ Natalie is full of imagination and creative questions.  Every night she and her mommy pray for us, which sparks a plethora of fabulous questions about Heaven.    Her mommy, Brooke, has shared these questions with me:
     ~Natalie asked if the dinosaurs in heaven could give Vienne a kiss and a hug. Brooke answered with a hearty and enthusiastic "yes!"
     ~Another night, Natalie wanted to know if Jesus could go to Papa Murphy's and get a pizza for Vienne in Heaven.
     ~Natalie wanted to know if Jesus could go to Petco and pick out a kitty for Vienne and take it back to Heaven.
     ~And, another night she asked if Vienne and Jesus could play hide and seek as well as Chutes and Ladders together.
     ~She asked if Vienne's baby dolls would be sad that she was in Heaven and in the next breath asked if Vienne could have M&Ms in Heaven too.
     ~Natalie asked if, when we get to heaven, Jesus and God would answer the doorbell or if Vienne would.  Then, in the same conversation, she also asked if boy angels bite or had sharp teeth because she didn't want Vienne to play with those guys.
     ~Finally, Natalie asked how Vienne got to Heaven...did she drive or walk?  Brooke told her that Vienne flew.
(Vienne and Natalie, summer of 2011)

>From Ella, 3 yrs. old ~ When looking at this blog full of pictures of Vienne, Ella got so excited to see her.  She looked up at the ceiling (towards heaven) and said "You are so sweet and beautiful, Vienne.  I miss you."
~ One night at bedtime prayers, Ella wanted to pray for Vienne and send a big hug and kiss to her.  She even blew it up to the sky.  She said that she misses Vienne so much.  *tears*
(Vienne and Ella, and Ella's mommy, Eileen - summer 2012)

>From Maya, 7 yrs. old ~ Maya's family just moved to Beaverton, from the beach.  On her first day at the new school she was very quiet and sad...for it was just a few days following Vienne's passing.  A little boy was sitting next to her and noticed her sadness.  The little boy mentioned Vienne's name and Maya's head popped up:  "How do you know my friend, Vienne?!"  The little boy turned out to be our friend's son, Eli.  Eli told Maya that his daddy wrote Vienne a song and he would bring the CD to school the next day, for her.  And, he did.  (this was the song that was played at her service).

**If anyone else has anything else to contribute, from their children, please email or message me.  I want to document every memory of Vienne so that I may cherish them always.

Caleb + Vienne

= Best Friends Forever.

It pains me to think about how Caleb has lost one of his bestest friends. 

It was joked (hoped) amongst us parents, that these two were destined to be together.  It was endearing to watch these two together.  Vienne was completely enamored with him.  Caleb absolutely adored her.  Sometimes, almost too much.  When they sat on the couch, he would put his arm around her and sneak in kisses...constantly.  It was adorable...and yet, sometimes...."ooookay, Caleb..that's probably enough!"  :)  But, she loved it.  He was always soooo gentle and loving with her.  Never did they argue or struggle with attitude towards each other. 

(break my heart cuteness)

Vienne would follow him anywhere.

Caleb's parents, Seth and Lacey, are two of our very best friends of all.  We have known them our entire marriage and we have been through so much together.  I couldn't be more thankful for them.  Lacey wrote a special blog for Vienne, here.

Caleb's little brother, Malachi who is 3, loved Vienne so so much, as well.  My memories are of Caleb and Vienne running around and poor Malachi running after, trying to keep up...calling after "Bienne!".  Both boys vied for her sweet attention.  Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of Vienne and Kai playing.

Some of our kids' favorite activities included:  running amok through the Holbert's back yard - chasing chickens, exploring bugs, teasing the dogs, petting and feeding bunnies, and tromping through the mud.

 But, most most of all, they LOVED to dance.  And, they danced well.  Dance parties were a regular event when we visited.

Caleb ~  I love you, sweet boy.  So very much.  Thank you for loving my Beautiful Girl...for being such a good friend and for treating her, always, with such a gentle hand.  Vienne loved you truly.  My hope is that you will search for Vienne's qualities in a young woman to love, someday.  I am so sorry that you have had to experience such a horrible loss at such a young age.  It breaks my heart. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Holly Hoop 2012

I wanted to let all of you know about a cool opportunity that has been presented to us, during this tragedy of ours.  Through one of my dearest friends, I have been connected with another mom who lost her 2mo. old daughter last October to SIDS.  This family has created a day to honor their daughter, Holland (whom they called Holly), each October.  On this special day they are organizing a run/walk to celebrate her life.  Each year that they do this, they are choosing another family in the community who has also recently lost a child and therefore the run will also be in honor of that child.  As the Cottle family heard our story, they contacted me and would like to run for Vienne. *tears*
Please check out their blog with all of the info.  We would love it if anyone would like to participate.  We are definitely not ready to be "celebratory" in any way, but we are honored to join in and walk/run for our daughter.  This is not a fundraiser.  They will be taking donations...however we've been blessed enough by our friends and family - so please do not feel obligated to donate.  October 20th - please join us on the Holly Hoop in honor of our Vienne Juliet.  It should be a nice event to just support our grief during this time.
We will be wearing blue/green in remembrance of Vienne.  Join with us, if you'd like. 
A write up on Vienne will be posted to their blog shortly.
**And, please RSVP to their email which is on their blog.  They need to know how many to expect as this is their first year putting this together. 

{Memories} ~ from Aunt Lacey

(Lacey and Vienne at 4 mo.)

My story for Vienne

I remember getting the text when she was born. Early in the morning. When I read, 'Shes here! It's a girl!' I smiled sleepily. Of course its a girl. It didnt seem a surprise, it felt right. I was already envisioning Caleb (my eldest son) and this newest addition to the 'Piscibert-Holbelli' family (the clever name we came up with to describe our friendship) as being good friends. I even went so far as to imagine that one day Caleb and Vienne would fall in love and our family's would REALLY be family!

I didn't want to have little girls. I was afraid of the delicate emotions, the pinks and purples and ruffles and lace. I wanted to teach boys to chop wood and hike through the mountains. In reality, I was just denying the side of myself that was delicate, feminine and desired lace and ruffles. Vienne taught me that I could have both. I could slay dragons and wear a dress while doing so. I could have tea parties and then let my hair down to dance joyfully. Over the years of getting together with the Piscitellis and our families enjoying holidays and casual dinners and picnics, I allowed myself to see what the joys of having little girls might be. I began planning day trips for Vienne and I where we could get our nails done and then run bare footed through fields and pick daisies. I even began to long for a girl of my own, but was content knowing I would always have Vienne and her sister Ivy to fill that void.

Occasionally Vienne would come over for playdates to let Jenny sleep or rest during her pregnancy and early days with Ivy. What a joy. I never had to tell the kids to behave or correct them. My boys loved Vienne. Caleb was ridiculously gentle with Vienne. He would cuddle her and kiss her hair. He would ever so quietly whisper in her ear and hold her hand as though it might break. I was in awe of their friendship. And while Caleb is by nature a gentle boy, he was more gentle with Vienne than I've ever seen him with anyone else. I would even ask him, 'Why are you so nice to Vienne? Why don't you treat your brother just like that? (Which I knew wouldn't happen, because brothers will rough and tumble no matter what) He would reply, 'I am gentle with Vienne, because she is a girl and she's my favorite girl that is a friend. Vienne is very special to me.' It melted my heart. Vienne indulged the boys with her imaginative play of dragons and forts, run after them cautiously through the yard, stopping to gently pet our dogs and chickens and bunnies and squeal with delight over the goodness of it all. And then she would politely request that the boys wear necklaces with her and pretend to be fairies and princesses. I was proud of Vienne. Like an Aunt would be. I claimed her as part of our family, in the same way I claim Mark, Jenny and Ivy. I feel like I have lost my niece and I am devastated that I will never have camp trips with her where we will paint our nails and hike through the woods. I am devastated that my sons have lost their favorite play mate. We speak of V often. The boys become solemn and say quietly, 'We are sad about Vienne. She was such a good friend. She was a princess and our favorite girl.' I feel an ache in my bones for her loss. We have all lost. I feel as though I were cheated. I will pour my love for Vienne into Ivy. And Ivy and I will paint our toes and pick daisies. But Vienne has a special place in my heart. Ivy will too, but the truth is that Vienne held that place first. She softened me to what a dainty and brave girl could be... and in just 4.5 short years of life.
I look forward to our reunion, Little Fig. I miss your giggles, your hugs and your passion for art, dancing and coloring 'outside the lines.'
your Auntie 'Assy'. {how Vienne once pronounced "Lacey" when she first started talking.  It was appropriate. :) }
(Caleb and Vienne in 2009)

(Vienne and Aunt Lacey walking and chatting, 2009...and Malachi hidden in the ergo!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


"...there were never such devoted sisters."

Two little girls.  Sisters.  Friends forever.  This was my dream come true. 

With both pregnancies, we opted to be surprised by the gender.  The guessing game was fun for us.  The anticipation of the surprise at the end was even more fun.  When I was pregnant with Vienne, I secretly hoped it was a girl.  I did not have an inclination either way...just a hope.  She was definitely more than everything I ever imagined a little girl could be.  Then, when I was pregnant with Ivy, I found myself, to my surprise, hoping again for another girl.  I wanted sisters.  I wanted a friend for Vienne like I have in my sister.  Again, I had no inclination either way.  But Vienne did.  She knew we were having a girl.  Unquestionably.  I love how most little kids' intuitions turn out to be accurate.  It was absolutely no surprise to her that I had birthed a little sister for her.

(pretending to sleep)

Oh and she was soooo ready to be a big sister.  If there was ever a perfect big sister, you know Vienne was it. 

I have the sweetest memories of Vienne on the day that Ivy was born.  As I've mentioned before, I birth my babies at home, by much thought out and researched choice.  I had taught Vienne about how the birth process happens.  Throughout my pregnancy, I had a wish that Vienne would be awake and present at the birth.  She was old enough and mature enough to be a witness.  I remember that I went into labor with Ivy at 2:30am.  It was a short 5 hour labor (yes, I have it easy when it comes to birthing).  Around 5am, Vienne must've just sensed something going on downstairs and woke.  My mom wasn't there yet to watch over V, so Mark kept her by his side, at the edge of the birthing pool.  My precious big girl, quietly stood by his side, in awe and excitement, and helped brush my hair with her gentle and precious fingers.  She also sweetly fed me ice chips, all while whispering beautiful encouragements to me..."you're doing a good job, mama."  *tears*  Thankfully, I am not a screamer but I did moan...and nothing scared or phased her one bit.  When it came time for Ivy to come out, all I remember hearing in the background was Vienne's excited anticipatory laughter and clapping.  And, when Ivy came out and was placed on my chest, Vienne was immediately behind me reaching her hand out to touch her beautiful, yet slimy, little sister.  The picture we have of Vienne first holding Ivy brings me to tears - the look of complete speachless awe on her face is magnificent.  She wanted to be involved in everything having to do with her sister.  She patiently sat on the bed, with her hands in her lap, and watched with fascination as Ivy was measured and weighed.  She was absolutely enthralled with watching Ivy nurse and trying to help me with that.  Perfection, I tell you.

(patient and calm Vienne awaiting the arrival of her baby sister)

(first hold.  You can glimpse the awe on her face)

(first hair pulling.  Vienne was patient with her sister from the moment she was born.  This hair pulling NEVER ever bothered her.)

(excited Big Sister)

(patiently observing while Ivy gets weighed and measured)

And, it didn't stop there.  I know I have mentioned it before in other posts, but Vienne just selflessly and unconditionally loved Ivy from the moment she arrived.  Crying never ever bothered her.  She always wanted to help.  She would sing songs to soothe Ivy...and it worked.  Ivy loved her big sister. Vienne was never jealous of Ivy and all of the new attention that was given to was more as if she contributed to giving that attention, along with us.  She was happy to share this doting and love with her new sister.  Vienne had this deep soul wisdom, you know?  Never selfish.   
(this smile of Vienne's gets me everytime....stunning)

(matching owl hats that I made for them both)

The way I know that Ivy misses her big Sister is in how she nurses, now.  Ivy used to be the most distractable nurser.  Vienne took precidence over nursing every time.  So much so that I had to establish a rule that Vienne couldn't come in the room while Ivy was nursing.  I would have to go to our room to feed her every time.  If Vienne were to walk in, Mama's milk took backseat.  Ivy would arch her back and twist and turn towards her sister with a big grin.  She loved her voice and her presence.  Ivy no longer does that anymore.  No one else can distract her from nursing. 

I was so so excited that I had these two beautiful and precious little girls who were already so connected.  Everything I ever wanted.  I felt so complete.  I was so happy that Ivy had Vienne to look up to, to be an example for her.  I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Vienne would be a much better big sister than I ever was. 

So, why were my dreams shattered so heartlessly?  Why did my poor Ivy have to lose her best friend?I could go on and on in my cycle of asking why. 

(Yes, I know I can have more children.  Please do not suggest this to me, though. It is not something that I want, at this point.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Gut Wrenching Rage

{I wasn't sure about whether or not I should post this, but I need an outlet to pour out my rage, my over-obsessive thoughts that torture me all through the day and night.  I have vacillated over writing about the events of that day.  I do not want to ruin the beauty of Vienne's life and the beauty of this blog with the ugliness of her death.  But, there is some sort of a release in sharing my thoughts...knowing that I am not alone.
*Do not continue to read this if you are not in the mood for a hard read or if you are easily offended.  I am not here to please anyone.}

Sleep is the only thing I look forward to these days because it momentarily takes away the nightmare that is my new wretched life....even though it takes me hours to get there.  Every morning, Mark and I wake to the same nightmare - our precious perfect Vienne is dead.  Not just gone...but dead.  The cruelest reality that I can't let sink in and so I have to replay the horrific events of the day in my head until I believe it.  And, then I am left raw and full of painstaking guilt and rage at God.  The "whys?!" are endless.  I know this is normal.  But, there shouldn't be a normal.

Losing a child is the worst thing that I could imagine ever happening to anyone.  I would rather lose my spouse, my parents, a family is worse than torture, being raped...anything.  I would choose all of that over my child's life.  And yet, here I am.  I am one of the few select chosen to carry this sick and twisted burden. 

Just two days before she died, it was my and Mark's 7th anniversary.  I remember at dinner we were asking each other silly date-type trivia questions.  One was "what is your biggest fear".  This was it.  "Losing one of our babies" - that's exactly what I said.  Prophetic?  F%*# that.  It was my worst nightmare, though.  It was a fear that could keep me up at night.  Sometimes it would consume my mind and keep me from sleep, this fear of mine.  It's almost as if my sub-conscious knew what was to come. 

Each day, I go back and forth in my rage - sometimes at God (most times) and sometimes at myself.  There are soooooo many things that played out during the "incident" that God could've used to save her and turn this around.  This is where most of my rage lies.  The fact that, while I was selfishly downstairs making breakfast and quickly finding a rare moment to read my f*%#ing Bible, I felt a tinge of guilt for taking a few moments to myself.  I rarely do that.  God could've used that and pressed on my heart to check on her.  The fact that I confidently know CPR.  The fact that I did not hesitate to swiftly pick her up out of the water and immediately administer it all while juggling the phone and calling 911.  The fact that my phone was in my pocket, so I never left her side.  I was hysterical but I held it together and did not stop until help arrived.  God could've used that to save her.  The fact that paramedics showed up in 5 minutes.  5 minutes.  They were so fast.  God could've used that.  The fact that they were able to get a slight heart beat back.  God could've used that!!!

But He didn't.  He did not give me one warning.  Nothing that allowed for a second chance.  She was snatched away from me without one hesitation.  The healthiest kid...for no discernible reason.  One moment she was happily watching a show, sitting quietly in the shallow tub.  The next moment she is dead.  Just the baffling undetermined cause of her death shows me that this just had to be all planned.  It is the only thing that makes sense to me at this point.  As if it was planned for her life to be short...but I was never given fair warning.  Except for those damn fears. 

She was in less than 6" of water.  I never filled it higher than her nose, if she laid down...which never did without me present.  She just took swim and water safety classes!  She knew how to hold her breath.  But, she never splashed around in the tub, never stood up, never played near the faucet where her head could get bonked and never put her face in w/o goggles.  She was 4 1/2 years old!!  Every mother tells me that they leave their 4 yr. old in the tub for a short bit to play!  What 4 yr. would put their head under water and not sit back up, anyway?!  That's not what happened with her, though.  They say a seizure, but can't prove anything.  Inconclusive results.  They say she didn't have enough water in her lungs for it to even have been a drowning.  It was confirmed that she didn't splash or flail or struggle.  I heard NOTHING and was right below her, in the kitchen.  It was seriously as if God planned all of this...waited for that rare moment when this overly protective mom would turn her back.  As if her heart just stopped and she quietly slipped under the water.  The image is horrific.  And I live with it constantly.  No mother should have to face the horror that I faced on that day.

I hate God.  How could He callously take her from us like that?  WHY??!!!!  He is not the God I thought I knew.  I don't even know what to think of Him.  You say God hates death.  I hear that God loved her...loves me.  I hear people proclaim that God answers prayers...even the small stuff.  But, I feel that He betrayed me.  If He hates death He would've acted on any of those obvious opportunities given for Him to intercede.  But, He said "NO".  And, I hate Him right now for that. I feel like I am bbeing punished.  I do not know how to reconcile this.

There was no sin involved in this death.  It was not a consequence of someone's poor choices.  I have no one else to blame except Him...and myself.  I could've gone upstairs sooner and had a better chance to save her.  I could've stayed up there and cleaned up the rooms and possibly prevented it all (most times I never went downstairs!).  If it really was a seizure, I could've called 911 sooner if I was there.  It could've been stopped....maybe.  But, God did not allow it.  She died alone.  Without me.  I am ruined over this.
How can I trust God after this???  How am I supposed to trust Him with Ivy's life?  How am I supposed to love Him?  And, teach Ivy of His "love"? 

The only thing that makes me want to strive to know so that He will let me come to heaven so that I can be with my beloved Vienne.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


About 2 years ago when V was around 2 1/2, there were a few months when she maintained a sweet sweet "habit".  Everyday, after an hour or so of early morning play time with Daddy, I would come downstairs and she would stop her play, pick up her paci (back in the day when she used one), and come to me and say "cuddow?" (cuddle).  I would pull her into my arms, lay back on the couch, and we would literally cuddle for 20 minutes every morning.  It was the most precious time of all.  It lasted for a few months and I will never ever forget it.  What child stops their play and lays still for such a long amount of time?  I wish those cuddle requests lasted longer than a few months...but then she started to grow up, of course. 

I miss cuddows.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Daddy's Brew Buddy

(patient little bottle-capper)

Mark brewed his first batch of beer today, in months.  I know it was very hard on him to not have his brew buddy around.  As funny as it sounds, this was a fun bonding time for the two of them.  Of course, Vienne knew beer was only a grown up drink and she never once had a taste.  But, it was cute and hilarious watching how much she enjoyed helping her Daddy...she got to help stir the brew, pour in the grains, etc.  She loved listening for the "burps" as it fermented.  And she was a professional bottle capper. 

(she loved lining the bottles up in a straight line like this...our little perfectionist)

(silly video)

Missing you more...

The missing you will never stop.  Ever.  It will never "get better" and I don't ever ever want it to.  I want to always feel this angst so that I can always feel you, remember you...miss you.

I miss how you would lay the yellow pillow on the floor next to your bed and request that we ask Jesus to sleep next to you, on it.  And, then you would also request that your largest dinosaur, Rexi, would stand next to that pillow and also guard you at night.  Why didn't they guard you better??

I miss how you would run to Ivy's side and quickly sing the "ABC's" to her when she was fussing.  The "ABC's" was your favorite song to sing.

I miss how you would find the letter V in every written thing.
(first time she wrote her name)

I miss how you would point to the hills on our drive to Grammy's and say "there's Dragon Mountain, Mama.  The dragons are sleeping up there".

I miss how you could make Ivy belly laugh.  She hasn't had a really good belly laugh ever since you've been gone, my sweet Girl.

I miss how you would ask Daddy to send me up after he tucked you into bed, because you wanted a hug from me.  Then I would lay down next to you and sing and we would just cuddle.  I loved whispering on the pillow with you.

I miss the little seeing if you could buckle your carseat before I put Ivy in on her side.

I miss being offered a sticker at New Seasons...and how you would always choose the red fire truck or a pirate.

I miss reading books with you at nap and bedtime!  Dinosaurumpus - a true favorite..."shake shake shudder near the sludgy old swamp, the dinosaurs are coming, get ready to ROMP!".  We also loved Give a Mouse a Cookie, The Gruffalo, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and soo soo many more.

I miss reading the Bible with you.  Those were stories you really paid attention to.  You loved learning about Jesus.  Just recently, you could define "baptism" and "disciple". 

I miss going to the library with you once a week.    You would run straight in to the kid's computer and play a Dora game, while I looked at the shelves nearby for a load of new books to take home at read at bedtime.  I love choosing new stories to read to you.  It was always something exciting to look forward to when we got home. 

I miss your "break dancing" moves.
(here she is saying "hi-YA!!")

I miss putting 2 carrots and 2 beans on your plate at dinner every night.

I miss finding pieces of tape stuck to surfaces all over the house.  Tape.  The cheapest "sticker" replacement.  You loved tape.  It could fix anything.

I miss coming downstairs every Saturday morning to find you and Daddy making pancakes.  I miss how Daddy used to form your pancakes into different objects each time...from alphabet letters to dinosaurs. 

I miss making you chocolate milk and chocolate smoothies.  I'm going to let you in on a little secret...your chocolate mix was really a chocolate flavored Green Food powder.  Little did you know, you were getting an organic salad in each of your smoothies.  ;)  (I promise to play the same trick on your sister)

I miss painting toes with you. 

My Sweet Darling, this is just the worst thing ever.  None of it will ever make sense to me.  No answer in all the world will ever satisfy my raging "WHYs???"

Most of all, my Vienne, I miss hearing my name...."Mama?"