The first balloon ever released...

The first balloon ever released...

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Special


Happy 6th Birthday Kenna Bear!

I have been reflecting a-lot on what is the purpose of my life. I have lots of "purposes" but what is MY purpose, my one "thing" that only I can do in this life and nobody else? I don't think I would reflect so strongly on this question if it wasn't for McKenna.

Honestly, I have a lot of good things going for me, it would be easy to look around and think "nailed it"! I am a graduated doctor, I have a full time job that I love, financially stable, very happily married, 4 kids, live in the most beautiful state I know, active, athletic, good friends, church goer, loving family.... if it wasn't for her, I don't know if I would ask myself, "but what else?".

McKenna has been gone for 4 years now. You would think that I would have this CRYSTAL CLEAR answer on why she died and what does it all mean but I don't. I truly believe there is a crystal clear answer (I did not always feel that way), I just think I haven't found it yet. It's waiting for me to do something... but what is that something?

The last few months have been a lot of these questions rotating around in my head over and over again and then it finally dawned on me, I have to start ACTIVELY doing something if I want to figure it out. But where do I start? How does this work? How do you find purpose if you have no clue? I started to get frustrated with these questions and decided the first thing I would do is stop beating myself up and accept I am not perfect! Negative reinforcement is the way I love to treat myself and it doesn't even work! All it does is make me feel worse. So I threw away the "guilt card" and told myself from this point on, talk to yourself with kindness. (Easier said then done, but it is getting easier.)

Secondly, I turned more faithfully to the Lord. General Conference was coming up (this was in October) so the hubby and I decided to fast and pray for "What do you want us to do with our futures and what is our purpose?". (BIG LOADED QUESTION! I KNOW!) But I am tired of wasting time so I figured I might as well just jump right in.

General conference came and it was AMAZING! It nailed so many things on the head for me and gave me a great place to start on why it is important to ACTIVELY PURSUE ANSWERS!

Then we had a church women's conference, also amazing, also very specific to my question. At this meeting you could pick what classes you wanted to go too, low and behold every class I picked had to do with purpose or finding your '"thing". It was at this point that I started thinking to myself, "Wow, how odd that I fasted for answers on finding myself and then I hear all these great lessons on how to do it. Weird!" I then felt a soft nudge telling me to ponder on what I said a little bit more. Did I really believe it was a coincidence? "Umm.... yes? I think so? The Lord doesn't directly talk or answer my prayers like that. Who am I? I'm no one, why would He go out of his way to do that?" But then I felt that nudge again, not really an answer but more of a "dig deeper into that statement". So I thought about it again, did I truly believe, by some random luck, that I happened to pray for answers of purpose and future then attend 2 separate events that answered this specific question??? "Maybe... or maybe I am over thinking this. Trying to turn this into something it is not. I am no one unique, I am no one so special that the Lord would single me out like that. No way.... but... is it possible that I could be? Why is it I believe everyone has a purpose and are special in the eyes of God but not me? I really do believe we all have our own unique purposes, our own amazing stories, our own "thing", but why not me? Do I really believe that everyone is special except me? Do I really value myself so lowly that I would deny my own destiny just simply from not believing? Maybe I am special, maybe I truly am one of a kind, maybe I am worth a God answering a prayer." Then for a moment I felt this weird sensation while I was in the classroom, I felt like all the lights had just slightly dimmed except the light over me had brightened, as if God himself had put a spotlight on me and was saying "I see you, I see them too, but I see you as well."

It was at that time I felt inspired to make some kind of active goal to better myself and more clearly find my purpose. If I was really going to do this, then I needed to treat it like anything else I try to accomplish in my life. I needed to set goals, make plans, write it down, say it out loud, make it official. Make check list and specific activities that would uplift and inspire me to push myself further, to push myself from better to best. I had to make goals to be more like the person I want to become. You can't pray it to death, you can't keep hoping that one day you will wake up and somehow your the person you always hoped you would be. You have to do something!

I was on a spiritual high after that. I felt the spirit so strongly that I almost felt electric! I told my husband that I wanted to do some type of 1 year challenge but I didn't even know what that meant or what it would look like. It sounded over-whelming to be honest and I felt doubts like maybe I would never be able to accomplish such a thing but I shook it off and just thought "baby steps, one step at a time".

I was feeling so good and so confident, I was special, I was going to make a difference, I was going to find my purpose, and... I was pregnant! Zach and I had been trying for the past few months to have another child. I worried that it would be difficult. The last (and only) time I actively tried to have a baby was McKenna and that took us a year! I did not want to go through that again but here I was only a few months later and found out I was pregnant! Life was AMAZING and I was high on everything now (except drugs! haha) I decided to keep it a secret since I found out so early but almost spilled the beans with every person I talked too, I could hardly contain my joy. A few days past and another church conference was coming up. I was prepared, I got a baby sitter in advance (which I never do) and I knew I was going to get some more answers about the next few steps to find myself. I was pumped!

A few days before the conference I went over to a friends house who I had spilled the beans too (so weak) earlier that day. Zach and I were greeted with congratulations and I quickly ran off to use the restroom. To my surprise there was blood. I felt nervous and confused, I had never miscarriage before and wasn't sure what was going on, I tried not to over react, I tried to give it time, but one week later it was confirmed that I had my very first miscarriage.

It was an easy miscarriage compared to the stories I have heard. Honestly, if we weren't actively trying and checking for a baby, I probably would have thought it was an oddly late period. There was no excessive pain, just cramping, and in a weeks time, it was over. At least the physical part was.

Why! Things were going so good! I was high on life and electric with the spirit! W-H-Y!
It was now time for the conference and I didn't want to go, I kept saying things to myself like "Don't go and don't feel bad about it! Anyone in your shoes would skip! You deserve a break! Don't go and remember your not allowed to guilt yourself anymore. DON'T GO!" As I started to feel more justified in these thoughts I felt that nudge again. The question once again entered my mind, "Am I really special?" Yes, I am not turning off that idea, even if I am not, from this point on I am saying I am special, mind over matter! "So, if you are special, someone who is truly unique and the "chosen one" of whatever your purpose is, do you think that someone might actively try and stop you from reaching that potential (outside of yourself of course)?"

The thought scared me, I don't think Satan made me have a miscarriage but I do believe that he saw a golden opportunity for me to sink below the ground again and bury my potential under the dirt. What if Satan was actively trying to get me to miss my goals, what if this meeting was important and I just let him talk me out of it. I mean worst case scenario is the meeting wasn't something special specifically for me, it was still a church meeting and would probably leave me feeling better then what I was right now. Is it possible that I am so special that Satan and God would actually fight over me? Who am I? I am no one. Who would fight for me? Who would fight for some random girl? Who was I that outside sources would go out of their way to reach me? To push and nudge, to shape into what they knew I could or would not be?

I went to the meeting and it was special. I was CLEARLY inspired on how to pursue my one year challenge. Instead of thinking of it as a 365 day challenge (which made me feel very overwhelmed) I thought of it as a monthly challenge. Breaking it into 12 months with a "theme" for each month and then weekly goals on how to better understand that theme.

Example:
February: The importance of Scriptures
Week 1: Look up 4 talks, scriptures, or stories from church magazine on Scriptures and split it into 4 weeks. Study and read one each week. - Fast for help with your scripture reading - help to know how/what to read and the desire to read - Find a scripture to memorize for the month.

Week 2: Read materials for the week and recite scripture. - Double your reading time for one week and recite memorized scripture.

Week 3: Read materials for the week and recite scripture. - Read the scriptures with your children every night and bare your testimony to them at the end of the week on the importance of reading and how it has effected your life.

Week 4: Read materials for the week and recite scripture. - Find a scripture challenge you would like to follow (like on pinterest, etc) and do it!
         
April is my favorite (I chose this challenge specifically for McKenna's anniversary):
April: I love to see the temple
Week 1: same - except now on Temples - Fast for help to understand the importance of the temple and the desire to go more often. - Go once a week this month

Week 2: Take the family to the temple and have a picnic for McKenna's anniversary. Plan activities that would be appropriate for the temple (maybe a scavenger hunt?) and spend quality time with the family. Share and express you love with them. Focus on eternal families.

Week 3: Go to the temple and have a specific prayer in your heart of something that is going on at that time. (Maybe something about McKenna?)

Week 4: Go to the temple with your spouse, invite someone to come with you.

I know it can seem very technical and even too much but I think it works perfectly for me. I am a check list kind of girl. I like having goals and then marking those goals off when I finish them. I don't do well with the idea of "winging it" or "figuring it out" because then I just settle for mediocrity but because I always enjoy a little competition, specific challenges push me to be better. The same tactics have made me a better athlete, chiropractor, wife and mother. How can it not work the same spiritually? Isn't is exciting? I am going to find my purpose in one year! Which is great because by then I will be 30 and I think that would be an AWESOME birthday present to myself.

I am so tired of not knowing what my "thing" is. It feels like such a waste of precious time. You know what I have had THE MOST guilt about since McKenna's death, not changing. You always see in the movies how people go through this hard core life changing event and it changes everything about them but that's not real life and most people DON'T do that! It's why I had to turn off the guilt "switch"! It was making me feel so bad for not changing that I couldn't move. I felt so unworthy and I covered it up with my job, hobbies, and even my family! I didn't realize it but deep inside it was making me feel like I was just another face in the crowd, that I was not special at all.

I think if anyone was to ask "Do you think Shannon has self-esteem issues?" they would say "No, definitely not!". I am not someone who hates myself, or tares myself down... at least not intentionally.  I am loved and respected by friends and family. All of this stuff I am talking about was internal, this was a battle of the heart and the spirit. I use to be so ashamed when McKenna died, when my OWN CHILD DROWNED, I barely changed at all. I thought I would somehow magically turn into Mother Theresa and yet here I was, changed in very small ways, but outside of that, had nothing to show for it. I couldn't handle it. It would make me so sad I would just turn myself off, pretend like I wasn't really feeling that guilt and shame, put it in a "time out" and save it for a day when I really felt like being hard on myself. But not anymore, I am not doing this to pat myself on the back or even to prove myself wrong. My quest is CRYSTAL CLEAR, I just want to find my purpose and knock it out of the park. I want to move on to the next step in my life, I want to be better then what I am! Not that who I am isn't good but can I be better? Absolutely! I want to see McKenna at the end of this race and look into her eyes knowing that she was the one who nudged me to do something I didn't think I could do, and I did it. I did more then just listen or thought about it, I followed through.

This past weekend was her birthday and we did a lot of stuff to honor her since it fell on a weekend. On Friday we went to a movie with just Dominic, Zach, and I because he is older and really the only one who remembers her. Of course we went and saw the "Justice League" and there was a scene that just made me lose it. *SPOILER ALERT* There is a scene when superman comes back to life and he takes off with Louis Lane. They are standing in a field quietly, she looks over at him and says "You wouldn't have been proud of me, I wasn't strong after you died" he looks at her with confusion, as if he couldn't even fathom the idea of being disappointed in her and they hug. I have felt that same fear. I have felt the worry of "You wouldn't be proud of me, I wasn't strong" and it's terrible! But I realized that McKenna is now perfect, and unlike me, this messy and confused human, she see's all of me. She see's my potential, the desires of my heart, my love for her, and there is NO WAY she could be disappointed! Having that pressure off of me makes me feel so much less guarded and so much more willing to take risk. It allows me to try giant one year projects that might fail and honestly accept it's ok becuase I can always try again. I am so happy to have that weight off of me. I am so glad that I can try over and over again. I feel younger, I feel her close by, and I feel the Lord's love. I am going to figure this life out to the best of my ability, and I am not going to settle for anything less.

I love you McKenna, thank you for always bringing out the best in me.
I look forward the adventures you have planned.
Love always, Mom
P.S. I really miss you.

Ok now for the details of McKenna's birthday WEEKEND!

Friday:
It started with this masterpiece given to us by our BFF's in Texas. 
She purposely ordered it where McKenna would look her age and I love it SO MUCH!
She knows how hard family photos are for me so she got someone to make us the perfect picture!
Isn't it beautiful!


Here it is life size! It's huge! (30x40)


The "reveal" of when we saw the painting for the first time... it was emotional!

She also made us home made cookies!
6 ballons for her 6th birthday. 
The temple
And a little plack with McKenna's motto:
"You will always keep us looking up"


We we're also surprised by someone doing this to our house:
Funny part is, I am really sure we walked out on the middle of them doing it but somehow totally missed it at the same time. I say that because I saw the big "M" and was like "aww", took a picture of it, and then I saw a mini-van I don't normally see but totally ignored the obvious sign. The Lord was looking out for whoever this sweet family was! I am still trying to figure out who it is!

Our Kenna flowers: these are from her daddy

And these are from our good friends from church
(they bought her roses last year too, they are so awesome!)


Leslie's gift to us:
It's called "Guardian Angel"
Our little Mckenna watching over our next baby to come?
It looks like a boy! (Yes, I really want another boy!) 
Perfect gift and perfect timing with the miscarriage. I love it. 


Saturday:

FIrst  we released balloons in Estes: 



Then the part I'm really excited to share!
This year we decided to go "star gazing" for McKenna's birthday 
so we could feel closer to her in the Heavens. I was worried this was not my best idea since the kids are so young and it's freezing right now in Colorado but we ended up getting the most amazing connection through our friends neighbor!

This man made his own "Observatory"! He keeps it in his front yard and it is free to the public! 
Our friend called him and told him our situation so he made special arrangments just to meet with us and show us some things he thought we would really appreciate, and we ABSOLUTELY DID!

It was a fantastic situation for us, we are so blessed! 
So, here is a picture of  the outside of his observatory!


Inside:
The first thing he showed us was a star called "Bernards Star"
He picked this one specifically because it is exactly 6 light years away from us. 
Translation: it started showing it's light to the world 6 years ago,
AKA: The year McKenna was born. 






He had a ton of facts about that I wish I could've written down but I rememer one of them was about it is the fastest moving stars in our galaxy! 
Image result for barnard's star

He also showed us a star called "Fomalhaut" meaning "the loneliest star"
I got a little choked up on this one because I think we can all relate to this bright shining star, we can all feel a little lonely sometimes but we still shine bright for others to see. 
You can see this one in the sky without a telescope.
Image result for lonely star in the sky

He also showed us Neptune, Uranus, and a few other stars then gave us a personal tour of our galaxy outside with his fancy laser that reaches into the sky forever, literally, you could see it in space for a second if you were there! (This was Dom's favorite part of course!)

Sunday:
I let the kids completely make their own cake! 
They cooked it, baked it, and decorated it!
The ONLY thing I did was write "Happy Birthday" on the side
Zoe did the icing, I was super impressed! 
6 Candles of course!






















Monday, April 24, 2017

Because she was mine

Here we are again. Every year I think this will get easier and every year I prove myself wrong.

Three years

Three long, life changing, heartbreaking, soul searching years.

Where does the time go and why does it go so fast?

Sometimes I swear it was not that long ago, others I find myself trying to remember the sound of your voice.

The vicious truth is that most of it is forgotten. Your voice doesn't come to mind when I try to replay it in my head. Only in videos can I clearly hear it and find myself saying "Wow, she sounds so much like her sisters.". I go back and even read some of the memories from this blog and go "Oh yeah, I forgot about that.". Memory has never been one of my strongest assets. I have always been forgetful and when you first passed away I remember panicking "Oh no, what if I forget?".

Dominic came up to me before bedtime as I was a little weepy eyed from a long day of holding back my feelings and he gently said "I miss her too" and hugged me softly. He then asked "Do you ever feel like you have forgotten her, not because you wanted too, but because you got distracted by other things, but then you remembered her? I remember her, but I have forgotten a lot.". Surprising how the thoughts of a 9 year old boy could be so fitting to this 28 year old mother. I shook my head yes and before answering him I paused to really think about how I wanted to respond, "There is a lot I too have forgotten because of distractions but also because of time... but when I think of her, I remember who she was in this family then my heart remembers what she meant to me and I hold on to that.". We hugged again and then he headed off to bed with the beautiful new gift our friends had mailed us for her anniversary.

The last 3 years have changed drastically, this past year has probably changed the most. When I think back on our journey I remember a lot of dark times. So much sadness and a never ending pit of hidden anguish in my soul. Constantly asking the question in the back of my mind "Why?". But this year has been different, there has been a lot of happiness. I graduated college and have a great job, Zach is finally getting to pursue his education, and the kids are growing and progressing each new day. I have learned to feel my Saviors love in a new way. I no longer see him as a drill sergeant beating on his soldier but now feel His love and compassion for me. Big strides have been made and I feel like it has done this family much good.

This year Zach wanted the family to share a memory of McKenna so we could put it in a little book. My sister started it in a group message and all day I completely avoided reading them until I knew I would be safe at home to cry. I didn't tell anyone at work, I acted like it was a completely normal day, I didn't even wear pink like I normally would. This is not because I was trying to be sneaky, it's simply because even after all this time, sometimes I still don't know how to bring it up... and sometimes I just want to get through the day without crying. The second I got home I felt it fighting to come out and I finally let it go. After the kids went to bed I read all of the stories and they brought me so much joy. I remember bits of pieces of their stories and bits of her personality shinned through all of them. I don't have many memories but what I can say is I am so grateful for the little bits of memories I do have.

Not only did I avoid the family stories till the end of the day but I even dodged text messages, phone calls, and gifts as well. One comment from a dear friend struck me the most, "I didn't know her but I love her. Thank you for keeping her alive and making us all apart of her life."

I wept tears of joy over that statement. That's all I have ever tried to do, I just try to keep her alive.

Why after all this time does it matter so much to me? Because she was mine.

If I were to stop trying to keep her alive then the precious little memories I do have would completely fade away. I am 110% sure of this and as long as I am alive I am not losing her anymore then I already have, I fight for those memories everyday and I'm not about to stop now.

I was recently reminded of a memory of her that I had almost forgotten:
One time I was picking her up from daycare and she was in a different class then usual. Lots of kids were in there and they were all happily playing together in this giant circle. I finally got her attention and she ran to me SCREAMING with joy, "MMOOMMMMMMMMYYYY" (lucky for me she always did this when I picked her up and luckily this was something I never took for granted. I always loved those excited and tender embraces). She gave me a hug and a little boy said sadly "Aww, I want a hug." McKenna without hesitation heard the little boy and said "Ok" then she ran over and hugged him. Then the child next to him said "Hey! I want one too!" and again without hesitation she ran over and hugged him. This literally continued all the way around the circle till every child had been hugged sufficiently. She didn't even know those kids, she was just in there for a one time thing and yet so much love and patience was shown and she was so happy to do it! I was greatly touched at this sweet and selfless gesture from such a small child that I could not help to think what a wonderful wife, mother, and friend she would be someday, never suspecting that our time together would soon be coming to an end.

I also recently had a memory of her after she passed away:
One night I was having a really bad night. I was sobbing silently by my bedside begging God to let me see her. I had done this every night since the day she had passed. I told him that I would do anything, all I wanted was a simple good-bye and angrily cursed him from withholding such a precious gift from me. Then I felt this prompting to "look up". I was about to look up when I felt a force so strong that it literally made me tremble, I could NOT look up. Fear overcame me as I could clearly feel a force from my bedroom door. I hid by the side of my bed, I could feel it coming closer to me. Like a child, I ducked under my covers and crawled close to my husband who was sleeping. Still hiding and shaking in fear I internally argued with myself "It's her! Put the blanket down! Why are you hiding? Why are your afraid? Just look up!" but I could not. I felt something deep within me, as if my soul could speak to this physical body of mine and it said "I am not ready." I felt the force fade away and after waiting a few minutes I slowly peered out from under my covers. Nothingness. It was pitch black and an empty room. Shame overcame me and still shaken up from one of the craziest things I had ever experienced I closed my eyes and wept myself to sleep.

That same shame has followed me for a long time due to this night. Why didn't I just look up? I am no coward and there is nothing I want more then to see my daughter before me. Everything that happened that night was a once in a life time experience and I blew it. I have never known such fear or felt such a strong spiritual force in my life, things like this just don't happen to me. I have replayed that incident over and over again and have blamed myself for missing such an important opportunity. Over the years though I have learned not to be so hard on myself and instead have sought for the answer of why my soul told me "I'm not ready". Although I still don't really know the true answer, here is what I have come up with so far...

There is a christian song "I Can Only Imagine" by Bart Millard. In this song the writer is actually writing about grieving his father and seeing him again in Heaven. In the chorus he sings:

"Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine"

Maybe the presence of my angel was too much? "I can only imagine" that seeing something so pure and perfect would make the soul quiver the way mine did. Especially knowing that this perfect being was my own child, a child I was desperate to see but hadn't clearly understood at that time what an actual angel she has truly become and how seeing an angel is no small miracle.

I really don't have any idea what was the main cause of that event ending the way that it did but I heard a talk that has struck a cord with me in this past general conference:

"If we let the Lord know in our morning prayers that we are ready, He will call on us to respond. If we respond, He will call on us time and time again and we will find ourselves on what President Monson calls 'the Lord’s errand.' We will become spiritual first responders bringing help from on high.
If we pay attention to the promptings that come to us, we will grow in the spirit of revelation and receive more and more Spirit-driven insight and direction. The Lord has said, 'Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good.'"
"Let The Holy Spirit Guide"
By Elder Ronald A. Rasband


McKenna has officially had more angel anniversaries in heaven then she has had birthdays on earth. She died at almost 2.5 years old. It sucks, I hate that she has been dead longer then she was alive. When people think "Oh 3 years is a long time to grieve" I would like to put in perspective for you that I had her for almost the same amount of time she has been dead. Just like that is a long time to grieve, that is a long time to have someone in your life. There is not enough time to erase grief just like there would never have been enough time to keep her in my life.

I am not sure what I can do to EVER be ready to physically see McKenna in this life but I know I want to be ready and if I am lucky enough to have it happen again, I will look up! With that in mind I have decided to accept Elder Rasband's challenge and am nervously saying in my prayers "I am ready". I know this is a step in the right direction of being spiritually prepared to "look up" when I am prompted too and I never want to miss that opportunity again. I also love the idea of being "on the Lords errand." Every birthday and anniversary I find myself asking the same question, "What can I do to honor McKenna, what is something that would honestly make her happy?" and it always comes back to service. Always.

So with this challenge of "telling the Lord I am ready" and the motto our family has made in honor of McKenna's life "You will always keep us looking up" I am continuing to raise money for the McKenna Eve Bundy Scholarship. This year we will be selling pink bracelets that are double sided. One side states "Keep Looking Up" and the other "Kenna Bear". We are selling each for $5. All proceeds will go the scholarship and we are starting with 300 bracelets. In addition, Dominic has been planning and preparing the past few months to start his first EVER job/business this summer as a.... (drum roll please)..... "Pooper Scooper" (so cute) AND he is devoting ALL of the first month earnings to the scholarship (insert ugly cry emoji here).

We are trying to raise the money by May 18th!

If you would like to buy a bracelet or make a donation, you can do so here:
https://go.rallyup.com/mckennascholarship

Thanks to all of you who read this blog, who think about her, and keep her alive in your hearts. We are so blessed with all of the support we get. Below is some of the love we were shown this year:

A personal shout out I gave to everyone who honored my daughter the day after her anniversary. 

A gift from our best friends back in Houston
It's a 3D image of her in this big beautiful crystal heart. I love it because it looks like she is really looking at you. It has 2 different bases: 1 that changes colors which the kids love and one thats just white, which I love. 



Pink roses from my friend. 
The 3 yellow represent the children I have now.
I love when people honor ALL of my children. 

A framed picture of a famous statue of a mother grieving her dead child (Hard to tell in the picture but the mother is made of stone and the child looks like she is made of glass and reaching out to comfort her. I was told it's called "Closer then you know" but I don't know if thats true. Regardless I absolutely love it. 
The friend who got it for me didn't even know this but I have always loved this statue and have told myself someday I will buy it for myself so the picture is perfect. 
The same person who made the amazing McKenna painting in another blog I posted made these little bookmarks for my whole family.
Another friend was celebrating her wedding anniversary in Washington D.C. with her hubby and honored my McKenna on her angel anniversary at this memorial site. 
My sister and the rest of our family wore pink, wrote stories, and released balloons in her honor. 

My kids Easter Sunday
Dom: 9
(Kenna would be 5)
Zoe: 3
Eve: 2
Old picture of McKenna but I felt like it was very fitting with this blog entry.  




Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Unfinished Story

Well today is the day. Today is the day that I lost her. This past week I can't help but think about the day she died and all the days that followed. I usually do a pretty good job of not focusing on that day because it is too sad but today.... I am going to allow myself to feel anything I need to feel and I have decided to share something that I have never shared with another living soul except for the person that was with me that day, which was Zach.

After we arrived at the hospital, after we found out she was dead, after the cops questioned us, we stood in an empty hospital room with just us; Zach, myself, and McKenna. For some reason Zach and I knew RIGHT AWAY that McKenna was gone. I have seen in the movies were people just don't believe it and they keep screaming "WAKE UP, WHY WONT YOU WAKE UP!" but Zach and I... we didn't do that. We stood at the foot of the bed and stared at her. The most resistance we showed was when a nurse walked in to grab something and I asked in a very quiet voice "Did you try to revive her? Did you already do CPR and everything else possible? Is there nothing we can do?" With sadness in her eyes she said "I'm sorry, we have done everything we can. We tried for a long time but in all honesty I think she was gone from the beginning." "Thank you." I responded and the nurse walked away with tears in her eyes.

We took a seat by her side and just stared in silence "She doesn't look dead." I said to Zach, and she didn't. She looked alive and healthy, like she was taking a very deep nap. "I know she doesn't but she is." he replied back with a shakey voice, once again I whispered back "She doesn't look dead." Immediately after Zach began to share soft sobs of grief and I just sat there and stared. I could feel nothing, I was completely numb, it was like I had ran face first into a giant brick wall and my body was no longer comprehending sensation. I looked at Zach and wanted to cry with him, I started feeling more numb and more distant from everything in the room like I was not really there and was asking questions as if I was an observer of myself and the situation, "Why am I not crying?" "Your in shock" "No, I don't think so, something is wrong with me, I should be crying right now." "Your in shock Shannon, it will come later, don't worry, nothing is wrong with you." "Am I a bad mother, shouldn't I be freaking out right now?" "Shhh, it's ok, your not a bad mom, it's ok, shhh".

I remember calling my dad, he was the first person we told. There was not a single tear in my eye but I could feel the enormity of what I was about to tell him and I had no idea what to say. "Dad, are you at home?" "Yes" "I have something to tell you, are you by yourself?" "What's going on? Whats wrong?" "It's really bad dad, I need you to be somewhere you can hear this and be safe." "Just say it! What's wrong?" "McKenna is dead, she drowned at moms house, we are at the hospital with her right now." I felt like a robot, my dad went silent. I don't remember what we discussed after that but something about him coming to the hospital immediately. After that, I don't remember how everyone else found out except answering the phone for my friend who had been studying with me only an hour ago for final exams that were next week.

I touched her body and it was warm, her hair was still wet from swimming. As time went on she slowly began to change and she no longer looked alive and healthy but I won't go into that. Some things should never be a visual for anyone and this is one of them.

People came in and out of the room, every entrance was the same, they would see McKenna first and have a look of absolute sorrow then they would see Zach and I and put on a brave face. We just continued to sit with her. I gave her little kisses and told her how much we loved her. I stroked her hair and so badly wanted to look into her eyes one last time. Hours had passed, people kept asking me to eat but I was not hungry or thirsty, although I had begun to fill very nauseous and asked for a throw up bag because I felt at anytime everything might come poring out. It never did.

I remember taking a step out while others came to say goodbye and sitting on a dirty floor in a long empty hallway, dry heaving into a plastic bag, with my sister close by my side. I remember wondering why it was so empty back there and assuming this must be where they tell people that someone you love is dead, they give you a whole section to lose your mind. I still wasn't crying. I still felt very numb and was worried I was going to leave that hospital and regret not saying my proper goodbyes.

I went back into the room. Once again it was just Zach, myself, and McKenna. "What happens now? What do we do from here?" That is when I realized we don't just stay here forever with her in the room and mourn, eventually we are expected to leave, eventually... they will take her to the morgue. This is when I was starting to be sucked back into reality. "I don't want them to take her to the morgue. I don't want to leave. I don't want to say goodbye." but the time was coming, I could feel it.

As I sat next to her one last time I touched her tiny hand. It was ice cold. Like a hammer on a nail everything came sharply out and I finally cried. She no longer looked like herself so I focused more on her hand then her face and as despair started to fill my entire body a song I learned at church when I was a little girl, one I sang with McKenna many many times, came out of my mouth from no where. "Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way, teach me all that I must do, to live with Him someday.".  Zach joined in and together we finished the song.

Anyone who is LDS knows this song, its a very common song, one of the first songs you learn to sing because of its simple melody. I have never thought much into the song before this moment. What was the song really saying? "Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way" I originally thought it was talking about Heavenly Father watching over and protecting His children but in that moment I realized it is talking about the parents, our spiritual roles in our children's earthly lives. Our job to "lead them" and "guide them" in this short mortal life so one day they can return with God for eternity. Is that what this song was telling me? That I had done my job and now it was time to let her go?

Many people talk about signs from loved ones after they have passed. I can honestly say we have not received such things. Maybe small ones, but always the "maybe",  never sure if we just made it up to make ourselves feel better or if it was really her but this song, this one is different. I was not thinking about that song, I was definitly not in a mood for singing, I was surprised when the words were flowing out of my mouth, and I even had to contemplate "Where did it come from and why that song?". I truly believe with all of my heart McKenna was in the room with us in that moment. She saw us, she could see the fear in our eyes, the uncertainty of our future, the absolute terror of leaving our little girl behind in a room, all alone, and never coming back for her. In that moment she only knew what to do what she always did, to sing a song, to show her love, to let us know that we had done all we could do for her and now... she was starting a new life, one that required her to go ahead of us.

With her grace, that song was a tender mercy for us. We had "helped her find the way", we had "taught her all we could" and I guess we did a better job then we expected because at only the age of 2 she was ready to "live with him someday". In that moment, I found it strange to sing this song. In fact the only comfort I felt from it was singing with her one last time. She always loved to sing. It was not for months later as my mind would go back to the song that I would find the true beauty and message she was trying to send to us.

Leaving her in the hospital room was the hardest thing I have EVER done. I turned back several times. I felt like I was abandoning my child at a grocery store. I remember asking Zach "Who will stay with her? We can't leave her all alone in there!" but we had to go. There were more battles to fight... we had to pick up Dominic and somehow find the strength to tell him that his little sister was dead. How do you tell a 6 year old boy, who found the body in the pool, who watched his grandmother perform CPR on her, who heard the ambulance truck come to pick her up, that his little sister didn't make it?

I don't share this story to make you feel depressed for the rest of the day and forever fear swimming pools and your child dying. I share this because we are real people. This really happened to us. This is not a scary bedtime story to teach you a lesson to watch your kids more closely. This is our life and we live it every day. Two years is not a long time. In a blink of an eye your baby turned 2, then 4, then 8, and is now grown before you know it. Two years of her being gone is a blink of an eye to us and we deal with it the best way we know how. Some days are great, others are slow, and days like today are... well there are no words. I have cried writing this blog, this one is very near and dear to my heart and the reason I have never shared this special moment with anyone is because it is literally sacred to me. To speak of it is to lesson the beauty of that moment with her. I feel my vocabulary is not eloquent enough to capture what really happened that day, the message behind the song, her final goodbye to her parents.

We are so blessed to have had her in our lives, even if it was only for 2 years. I love her today just as much, if not more, then I did when she was alive. She is our angel and someone who will always be in the forefront of our lives. My grief for her will never stop because my love her will never quit. Today is a difficult day but tomorrow will be better and with the grief comes the ups and downs and all we can do is try our best to honor her the only way we know how.

This year for her anniversary we have decided to raise money for the "McKenna Eve Bundy Scholarship". I mentioned it in the last blog but have not promoted it on here very much. We started a fundraiser account and have been sharing stories of when people did "random acts of kindness" for us after McKenna passed away and the affects it played in our lives. We did this because we thought it was the best way to help people understand that no good deed goes unseen in some form or another.

If you donate, you are helping someone like our family. This money is not granted based on GPA, a well written paper, or any leadership roles they have held. It is solely about helping students who have endured a difficult trial while trying pursue their education. It is not about giving them money but more about giving them support. Letting them know they are not alone. Their struggle has not been ignored. They are loved, supported, and encouraged to keep trying and that they too shall overcome this trial. This has been a healthy distraction for our family, honoring our daughter by uplifting others in their time of need has been very healing to us all.

Thank you to all of those that have already donated. If you haven't and you are interested, hear is the link to the website:

https://www.youcaring.com/mckenna-eve-bundy-545341

If you would like to read some of the stories we have shared I have posted them on facebook publicly so everyone can enjoy them.

https://www.facebook.com/shan.bundy89

Here are some of my favorite videos of her singing.
This was her favorite song. 
The classic "Barney song"


This was my favorite song to hear her sing because she could hardly say any of the words. haha



Happy 2 year "Angel Anniversary" baby girl. We love and miss you so much. 



Tuesday, December 22, 2015

4th B-Day & The "McKenna Eve Bundy" Scholarship

Once again time has been the enemy and I feel like I have blinked since the last time I wrote in this blog. SO MUCH has happened since September that it is no wonder I haven't had 2 seconds to actually sit down and write the crazy events of the year. I have big news I want to announce (obviously from the title) but I just wanted to mention a few things before that.

We celebrated McKenna's 4th birthday this November. I can't believe she would be 4 years old. It kills me and amazes me all at the same time. Zach and I are so young to have 4 children and yet we keep having more. We love all of our kids so much and receive so much joy from them. It's hard to believe that my little baby girl who I only lost a year and a half ago should have grown up so much already. As usual, the weeks before her birthday I shut down. I turned off in every way I could. I didn't think about, I didn't touch the topic, and I made no plans for her event. After the chaos of trying to celebrate her birthday last year... I was really dreading this one.

Two weeks before her birthday on the way to work I finally allowed myself to feel all the "feelings". I prayed out loud about my sadness and how I didn't know what I could possibly do on her birthday that would give me any peace at all. Then I started looking online, I googled "How to celebrate the deceased birthday" and only a handful of things popped up. I read through them and all of them were in regards to losing a parent. They made recommendations about baking their favorite cake, buying them a present you think they would like, inviting over their close friends and celebrating together. This again made me sad,  McKenna was only 2 when she passed. She didn't have a "favorite cake" or friends to invite over. It was just us, her little family, and buying her a present just sounded truly depressing. I pushed the articles to the back of my mind and once again shut down all my feelings.

A week before her birthday the articles I read earlier re-entered my mind. How can I do something for her that I know she would like right now? Not what 2 year old McKenna would like but what 4 year old McKenna would like. I prayed again but this time asked God to tell me what would McKenna like for her birthday. What does a birthday mean to an angel? Do they care? I begged God to help me find a way to do something that would make her smile on her birthday and I continued to pray for that the rest of the week.

Three days before her birthday I asked Dominic what he would like to do for her birthday. "We should do cake and presents of course!" My heart sunk. There is nothing more depressing then singing happy birthday to your dead child. "Yeah... we might do that. Is there anything else you would like to do for her birthday?" hoping for something else besides the traditional birthday routine. He responded "Yes, I would like to buy her a card and send it to heaven in a balloon." This time I think my heart had a tiny eruption. That's even MORE depressing! Presents and birthday cards??? I don't think I have the strength for that. I stopped the conversation there and luckily he was already distracted by something else.

Two days before her birthday I got the prompting to ask Dominic again what he wanted to do for his sisters birthday. He told me he wanted to hang pictures of her around the house. I thought that was sad but sweet and maybe I could pull that off. He then went on and said he also wanted to make her a cake. He reminded me of the other ideas he had come up with the day before. Once again I felt a giant tug on my heart and once again I let the conversation go.

The night before her birthday I found myself at Walmart of all places. Looking down the toy isle I thought about those articles I read. "A present she would like now..." I stared at the toddler section toys. Would she be a tomboy or a girly-girl. McKenna was always a good mix. She could have gone either way or just stayed right in the middle. I found myself trying to trace the pattern of her behavior of who I thought she would have become/is now and before I could make a conclusion tears of frustration and pain came instead. Realizing that this was too much for me I ended up wondering around Walmart. Why was I even here? What was I doing? I should just go home! But I stayed, I lingered down every isle until before I knew it, I had exactly what Dominic asked for: cake mix, a few presents, and a card.

The day of her birthday I picked Dominic up from school and I took him to pick out a birthday card and balloons for her. We baked a cake, he decorated it, and I hung pictures of McKenna all over our dining room. We then ate dinner, sang happy birthday, opened presents, and released balloons. To be honest, it actually went really well. It was small and simple but we all really enjoyed it. Dominic loved that we did every idea he had and it dawned on me that this is exactly what McKenna wanted. Where she is now, she in a place most 4 year olds are not. It's wasn't all about her on her big day, it was about her brother. She wanted to celebrate it with him and she whispered in his ear all the things she knew would make them both smile. It was very touching and humbled me to my knees.

That night I wanted to show her a token of my love as well. So I sang a song that often reminded me of her and used a picture book of her I was given for my birthday last year. It was also simple and sweet, quite and humble, and I truly believe this is all she wanted. I laid my head to rest that night feeling so peaceful. I knew we had done it right. On my baby girls birthday I had made her smile and that is a feeling I could never describe. It's nice to know I still play a small part in her life and that I can still find ways to make her smile.

Here is the video I made and a few pictures of the evenings events. 

The silent tribute we made at the house. 
(I fixed this video so you should be able to watch it now.) 


Pictures from her birthday party:

This is the card he almost got her but changed. He saw one he thought was more fitting (so cute though!)



 Zoe's way of helping out while Dom picked out the card.
She picked out the sunglasses for all 3 of us all by herself. 

Dom baked and decorated the cake all by himself!




The card he ended up picking. He said this was the perfect card because she use to drive him crazy all the time when she would go in his room and make a mess then never pick it up but he still loved her. haha


The presents I picked for the kids from McKenna:
A lantern because she will always be a light in this family. 
A little doll that said "sister" on it. 
A pink flower that said "love you lots" on the pot.
And pink hair bands because I always had her hair in some cute head band/bow.



The balloons Dom picked out. 


The whole Bundy Family
Happy 4th Birthday baby girl!



Ok, so now for the big news! I FINALLY GRADUATED COLLEGE!!! AHHHH!!! SO EXCITING!!! This is not actually the big news... but it is part of it! Graduation was this past weekend and my brain is still trying to comprehend all of the amazing things that took place. 

I have been in college for a total of 8 years! I did my pre-req's at a community college and there got my associates degree in biology. Then I went to grad school where I received my bachelors in human biology and now finally my doctorates in chiropractic!!! This alone is such a great feeling and a definite "pat on the back" moment that I have been giving myself all week! But the BIG NEWS actually took place before we walked across the stage that day! 

During our graduation ceremony it started like the many graduations I have been too. There was a special guest speaker from the school, awards were handed out, and everyone was jittering with excitement. On the handout, it said that before we heard from the valedictorian and the salutatorian there would be another special speaker. I really did not think much into this. In fact I thought it might be a song or something to that effect and eagerly awaited the moment I would finally cross the stage and graduate. Finally the first speaker had finished talking and the 2nd guest speaker was asked to come up, it was our class president. This caught all of our attention. 

Let me give a little background on my class and our president. I go to a chiropractic college. It is small and humble. Our class started with 44 and ended with 19 (from the original group). Obviously, the classes are small and intimate which is good for a learning environment but could easily go wrong for a group of people having to be together all day every day for 40 months straight. This is not the case for our class and that is only because we have an outstanding class president. This man goes above and beyond over and over again what anyone would imagine a class president should do (which is usually nothing, or someone to point the finger at). 

He never made a promise he couldn't keep. Everything he started he followed through with, all the way times 10, and he always, ALWAYS went out of his way to support his fellow classmates. He was president the entire program (which never happens) and he got to speak at our graduation (which never happens). Mike and I have an interesting relationship. I always had a lot of respect for him and how he took such time to help our class. Now don't get me wrong, he is no saint. He is rough around the edges and is sarcastic in all things but regardless if he was helping me out or giving me a hard time I respected him. Being a mother of 4, I understood the pressure and chaos it takes to watch over so many people at one time and constantly being asked for help, favors, and handouts, but Mike always did it and he always did it with a bang.

I don't know if you would call us friends in the beginning. Just 2 people who had a silent mutual respect for each other. In the last year of the school program you are basically out of the classes and officially an "intern". You work at the school clinic with a partner and you try to reach the numbers/goals the school sets for you. Mike ended up being my partner by random selection. My first reaction to this was not one of excitement. I wanted to be with my best friend Mely and he wanted to be with his. We were total opposites in my opinion. He reminded me a smooth politician in some ways. He was loud, talkative, extremely persuasive, and I had never seen him not get something he wanted when he pushed for it. He was single with no children and had (and still has) a tiny yorke named Jack. 

I on the other hand am none of those things. I am social and friendly of course but run more on the quite side. I prefer to listen to people tell me their stories then share my own. I have been married for 6 years, have 4 children, and a giant husky as a pet. I am not a "wine em and dine em" by any means and absolutely hate confrontation! So we were an interesting duo to say the least. I was worried that Mike would overpower me as a partner with his natural leadership tendencies and his love for debate but that didn't happen. Instead we ended up being a good balance for each other, in fact we were great. We were the first to reach all the requirements and then some. We were definitely the "power couple" of the teams and all though we both functioned differently our mutual respect for each other turned into a friendship. 

Outside of school Mike supported me after McKenna's passing. He and the class took it upon themselves to help get me through the program despite my grief trying to hold me back. He sent flowers on her anniversary and birthday. He once stopped by with groceries and treats for the kids. He was always in and out, never one to linger or outstay his welcome but his small and simple gestures always touched my heart. In fact, the entire class held a high value in my heart and I realized that I saw all of them more as a second family then I did my fellow peers. They had been there for me many times and without a doubt I know they would be there for me now. 

Now I say all of this to lead up to my class presidents speech at graduation. When he first started talking he gave a nice little history about our class, a few inside jokes, and brief highlights on a few of the students. It was at this point I was brought up. I remember thinking "Oh, it would be so nice if he talked about McKenna but he probably won't because that's depressing and this is our graduation so I totally understand" but then instead of moving on to the next person of topic like he had been... he stayed on the topic of me. He started drawing an outline of who I was, how he met me, and what role I played in the class. I felt my face burning. I am not one for the center stage like he is and I wasn't sure where this was going. 

As he continued to speak he brought up McKenna, tears streamed down my face as he gave a beautiful and heart felt message about her. My classmates turned to look at me with loving watery eyes, soft pats, and sweet smiles. In that moment I felt so much love that it could have stopped right there and I would have been so honored but he continued. He then announced that the class had donated a $10,000 scholarship in her honor and it would be called the "McKenna Eve Bundy Scholarship". At this point my ears started ringing, I no longer heard what he was saying. I saw everyone stand up so I stood up, I saw everyone clapping so I started clapping, and then I saw him motion for me to come on the stage so I went on the stage. 

He presented me with an award that was made of plexiglass and when I looked at it a little longer I realized it had pink in it. He asked me to say a few words to everyone which now made me feel like I was in a dream. I walked up to the mic and I don't remember anything I said except how grateful I was to my class, how they had helped me carry the burden of my daughters death, and that I was speechless. Then we walked back to our seats where the valedictorian and salutatorian spoke. 

The time had come for us to finally walk across the stage. Before all of this had occurred I had asked permission to carry a little pink balloon with me on stage to honor McKenna. I wanted something small and simple. I didn't want to take away from the other grads and the moment they had all worked so hard for. I didn't tell my family so it could be a nice surprise for them as well. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would be so honored and humbled that day. I relived it again and again. So many people walked up to me after the graduation telling me how inspired they were by my story and my daughter, they wished me luck, the gave me hugs, and once again we wiped away tears.

Later on I would find out there was not a dry eye in the entire auditorium and after my speech I was given a standing ovation. I didn't see or hear any of this due to the surprise of it all. I also found out the details of McKenna's scholarship and how it would work. I will get to be in complete charge of who gets the scholarship. I can pick them however I want too whether it be by the classic "submit a paper" or have everyone draw a pink balloon and I pick the one I like the best. My favorite part is there will be no GPA minimum on it. I have mentioned on this blog before how I have struggled with school my whole life. Good grades have never come naturally for me and every grade I get whether it be an A, B, OR C, is something that I worked very hard to achieve. He said he personally put that part in their for me so that I could help another fellow student who struggled the same way I did. Never have I been so humbled and honored all in the same moment. It was HANDS DOWN the best day of my life (outside of my marriage and children of course). 

I will never forget this feeling. It brought me so much closure about McKenna's death. I have been given many proposals on how to honor McKenna and none of them have ever felt right to me but this one fits so perfectly that I wonder why I never thought of it before. Helping someone else get through school to better the lives of themselves and others while they endure personal trials is amazing! The fact that McKenna will live on forever helping other mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews achieve their goals brings me such great peace. I truly am speechless when I think about it. 

After thinking about it, I know I don't want people to submit papers on why they deserve the scholarship. I want it to be by referral only because when others realize your need and go out of their way to help you, that in itself is so uplifting... and that's what McKenna is all about. She has been trying to lift me from the moment she left me and on graduation day I truly felt her spirit. 

And as if all of this wasn't enough, the day after graduation a fellow doctor who was at the graduation ceremony called and donated an additional $1000 to McKenna's scholarship! Since then many others have asked how to do the same so I decided to share it on here. It's really easy, you just call Texas Chiropractic College at (281) 487-1170 ask to speak to Kristina. She is the student counselor and is the one who will be helping me with awarding and keeping up with the scholarship. You can also send a check made out to Texas Chiropractic College with the name of the scholarship in the memo line. It might be easier to send the envelope addressed to Kristina Hanson so she can make sure it gets to the right person.

The address is 
5912 Spencer Hwy
Pasadena, TX 77505

And that's it, at least from what I know so far. If you have any further questions you know you can always message me about it too. 

I am so grateful for the out pouring of love shown to me this week. I really don't think I could express how much it meant to me and how even at this moment it makes my heart swell with joy and pride. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! 

Here is part of Mike's speech, unfortunately because it was a surprise, no one knew to record it so my part got cut (which is fine because I think it was only 20 seconds) and the first little part of his speech got cut too. I also have the PDF if anyone wants a copy of it. 



Mike just presenting me with the award. 

My very brief speech

Becoming a doctor!



My amazing class!

The class president and I

A big part of why I graduated the program = my "soul mate study buddy" 
The best friend, Mely

The real reason I graduated college = my amazing family




Our class got bricks placed in at the school.
(No other class has ever done this)