The first balloon ever released...

The first balloon ever released...

Monday, June 30, 2014


This weekend was a weekend I have been waiting for a very long time. My 6 year old son Dominic was legally adopted. A lot of people get confused when I say "I adopted my son", I guess technically I did not adopt my son my husband did but I was still interviewed and dragged through the whole process so I still had a part to play! I had Dominic from a previous relationship before I ever met my husband. I was another statistic for teen pregnancy, another "baby mama drama", another girl way over her head. Not even a month after graduation I discovered that I was 3 months pregnant (more like I finally stopped denying the obvious truth). This news changed my life forever, for the first time I was honestly concerned about my future. Who was I? Could I raise a child? Could I be a good mom? Who was this man? Is this someone I want to start a family with?
Time started moving quickly and I made a decision, I was going to keep the baby, I was going to stop being a "wild thing" and I was going to figure my life out. So I did something I never thought I was going to do, I registered for college. No one in my family had finished college, my parents started but never finished and I had no intentions of going myself. I was an "A, B, mainly C" high school student. I honestly thought there was no place for me in a college. It was no surprise to me when my GPA was to low to go to the university in my area so I signed up to a local community college. I needed a career, something that I knew I could support my soon to be child with and even though I seemed to be going "out of order" I figured later was better then never. 
Secondly I started looking within, I know I should have done this first but it's always easier to fix outer problems before the inner problems and I didn't want to accept all of that responsibility yet. I wanted to find out what it was about myself that made me always seem to make the wrong decision. I wanted to be a level headed woman, someone my son could look to for advice and not think to himself, "my mom is crazy!" I wanted him to see me as someone he could trust and always be there for him. I myself was raised in a bit of a crazy divorced childhood and I promised myself that I would never put my children through the same hell. I was worried because I had also promised myself that I would never put my children through a divorce, wait to have sex till I was married, and no kids until a year after marriage. Yet here I was in a very rocky relationship, pregnant at 18, and up until this moment was a rebellious teenager still living at home. I was definitely feeling defeated and afraid.
I had been in church my whole life but just because you go to church doesn't mean that you are a good person or living your life the way you should be. My dad was "Mormon" (The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and my mom was a little bit of everything. I had been to many different churches with my family but I preferred my dad's so I started there. I didn't just tune out and think about all the things I wanted to do rather then be at church, I listened to what they were saying and how it made me feel and if this was something I wanted to be apart of. I was so nervous to announce my pregnancy, I knew this was not what would qualify as "appropriate" behavior but I decided to drop the bomb anyway and probably never return after that but the members surprised me. Instead of putting me down, judging, or condemning, they showed a greater love. They threw a surprise baby shower, bought clothes, took me to doctors appointments, hand made blankets and food. I knew then I wanted to be like these women, I wanted to love unconditionally and see the best in everyone no matter what their past may be. Those women having faith in me gave me a faith I had never had in myself. For the first time I believed that I could do this, I could raise this child, I could be a good mom, I could change.

My ex and I broke up when I was 8 months pregnant, it was one of the hardest moments of my life (which now seems so small compared to the death of my daughter) but at that time it was the biggest challenge 18 year old me had ever faced. We had both drastically changed since discovering my pregnancy, I wanted to be a better person and he didn't want me to change at all. He refused to even meet me half way so I decided to walk away. I had already made a lot of mistakes up to this point and I refused to make anymore. Come to find out he had gotten back with his ex so he didn't put up much of a fight when I said it was over but that moment ended up being the best decision I had ever made. I had no idea by choosing to take a leap of faith, to raise my son alone because I refused to "stay the same" that I would be blessed in every aspect of my life.

Soon my handsome little man was born. I remember staring at him in the hospital while he laid in his little clear bed and saying over and over again "you are my son, I have a child, I am a mom, you are my son". It was hard for me to grasp the idea that just like that I became a mother! Dominic saved me from myself, he was the only person I had ever met in my life that could actually convince me to change, to think about others first, to love unconditionally. He made everything easier, knowing I had him by my side was enough. We were a team and we were unstoppable. I was working part time and going to school part time to support us but when I got home it was like we had never been apart. We had a level of love that I never even knew existed and although my life was chaotic, I had never felt such happiness. Being a mother was the love I had been searching for my whole life.

Within the next few months I met my husband. He was serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he was from California, and he was a "spiritual giant". I remember thinking to myself "Now thats the kind of man I need in my life, how can I get someone like that?" little did I know over a year later we would be married. My husband and I were 20, Dominic was 1, and we were a very happy little family.

From day one all we ever wanted was to have Dominic adopted. I honestly didn't think it would ever happen but then a few months ago (early October) my attorney surprised me with a phone call saying "Your ex's attorney called me and he wants to sign his rights over" I couldn't even comprehend the sentence that just came out of his mouth. "What?" I replied and he repeated it again, I was in SHOCK! To this day I have no idea where that came from, I have no idea why he decided to do that because I had asked him this when my husband and I first got married in November of 2009 and his response was so angry that I told myself "that's never going to happen so just put that out of your mind" but here we were! 8 months later, $10,000 poorer, and a whole lot of prayer BUT IT HAPPENED!!! Last week we got the letter in the mail declaring my son legally adopted.

As always Gods timing is perfect, we needed a rainbow in this dark moment of our lives and we got one. My son has had to experience so much at such a young age and he is such a mature soul because of it. He has such a great understanding of these situations that are so much bigger then him. I am so proud of him and the amazing little man he has become, I know that all these trials he has had to endure are not going to make him a victim but help him become the great man he was always meant to be. I know he will be a wonderful father, someone who knows how to love his children and never let go, I know he will always be the best big brother you could ask for, he will protect his siblings and be there for them every way he can. He will appreciate this life in ways many people will never understand because of all of that he has seen. He will always be my little man, even though he has never been very little. This weekend we were sealed in the Temple for all time and eternity and I have never seen him happier.

We had a giant party, we celebrated this tremendously happy occasion with everyone who wanted to share our joy. I have been waiting for this moment his whole life, it's not everyday you actually get to see everything fall into place so perfectly. It was honestly the best day of my life and that is no exaggeration! It's hard to believe how much we had to overcome to get to this moment. All the hardships, crying and fear erased by just one piece of certified paper. I know that this only happened because of the Lords tender mercies, this is His way of letting me know He see's me and He still loves me.There is no greater feeling then knowing that no matter what happens we will always be together and one day we will all be with McKenna again.

The judge that made it all "official" and the "adoption buddy" penguin he gave him.
Dominic named him "Icee"

The necklace Zach bought me
(I get a new heart necklace every time we have a child)

The rainbow I saw the morning of the temple sealing.
McKenna's little way of showing us she is still here.

Dominic after his adoption party.
I don't think it could get any better then this for a kid.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"I love you too"

Ever since McKenna's death I find myself feeling a ton of regret. I know they say it's "normal and don't feel that way" but that advice does not seem to be working at the moment. Every "good" parenting thing I have ever done seems to be getting automatically erased and replaced with a bad memory. Every time I lost my temper, didn't show enough affection, and the worst of them all...decided to do something stupid (like play on my phone or watch TV) rather then play with her. OH IT STINGS when I think about that! I hate the idea that I was goofing off on some time killer activity instead of creating more memories with her. I know that it's "normal" and we all need a break and to be honest I am not someone who spends a lot of time on the TV or computer but still I HATE IT! How I wish I could turn back the time, even it if it's just to hear her throw one more tantrum (she had some really great tantrums)!

I was having a really difficult time shaking off the guilt even though everyone on Gods green earth had reassured me that I was the best mother on the planet and deserve some kind of metal of honor but as kind as their words were, it just wasn't taking the feelings away. A few weeks later I was really letting myself "have it", my guilt and conscious were having a full on boxing fight over if I was really all that awesome of a mom or even a descent mom at best! As I could feel the pain in my chest getting tighter and tighter a song started playing in my head. Without even noticing, I started singing the words out loud and then began to cry. I knew this song, it was very close to my heart, it was a song I wrote for all 3 of my kids soon after my youngest Zoe was born.

I come from a family of singers, we love to sing, none of us have any intentions of singing professionally or getting famous. We just like to "belt it out"! We like to harmonize, sing while we clean, sing while we drive, sing to people, sing by ourselves, we are your modern day Disney princesses here to sing for no reason. The one thing I personally love to do is write songs. I have written many songs and have shared a handful of them. I just enjoy expressing myself through music, very similar to how I enjoy writing my feelings out for this blog. Most of my songs have nothing to do with me, they are just made up songs about life (a lot of them are re-mixes just for a good laugh). Only 2 songs have been written for a specific purpose, 1 was for my husband on our 1 year anniversary and the 2nd was the song I wrote for my children.

I remember when I wrote this song I started crying (what-a-softy) but the words could not be more true on how I really feel about my children. I wanted them to have something to sing when they felt worried, scared, or unloved so they would always know their mother loved them no matter what they were doing. Whether they moved far away or I passed away, they would always have it and someday sing it to their own children. This song was suppose to bring them comfort, and now ironically it is bringing comfort to me. Whenever I start beating myself up about maybe I wasn't a good ENOUGH mom, maybe I didn't show ENOUGH love, maybe I wasn't there ENOUGH, this song creeps into my ear and reminds me that I AM ENOUGH. I wrote this song with all the love a mother can have for a child, I didn't write it to get the most views or become a YouTube sensation, I did it because I love my kids and this is a token of my love to them. When they hear it they will know that they are never alone and I am one proud momma, no matter how far away they may seem.

I can't express enough how hard it is to loose a child and even worse to not even be there OR EVEN BE AWARE of their last moments in life. You weren't there to comfort them, to hold them, TO SAVE THEM. It leaves a pit in your stomach knowing your child had their last breath and you were simply not there. Even though she drowned and was never resuscitated, I would give the world and back to have been there myself. At least I could have had the closure in knowing that I did everything I could do to try and bring her back. Showing up at the hospital with her already being pronounced dead was so confusing. HOW? I am her mother, I brought her into this world and if she HAS to leave early, why couldn't I have been there to see her leave? I kept asking the nurses over and over again, "Are you sure you did everything? There is nothing left to do? How long did you try? Are you sure you can't try again? Are you sure it won't change anything???"

I love my children, they are always on my mind, and even though my life is upside down right now they always make me smile. I sang this song to them often, I still do. Kenna knew the chorus, Dominic knows most of the words, and Zoe just smiles.

There are countless memories I have of McKenna and I singing together (she LOVED singing) but this song specifically reminds me of bedtime. She would be curled up in her bed, I would rub my fingers through her hair and sing her our "good night" songs. Sometimes I would sing this song and other times we would sing different ones. I would quietly whisper the songs to her and she would softly sing the words along with me, she had a very good memory for music, even for a 2 year old she always seem to know the words to every song we sang (and if she didn't she would just make them up). We would finish a song and before I could even catch my breath to say "Ok, night Kenna Bear" she would whisper and hold up her little finger "One more mommy, one more" and I would fall for it every time "Ok, but LAST ONE, no more after this" "ok mommy, last one" and then we would repeat this cycle until I finally forced her to bed. Sometimes I would hold her in my arms while we sang, those are my favorite moments. I am thankful for all the happy memories that come with this song, I am grateful I sang of my love to my daughter, I hope in heaven she is still singing this song and knowing with every word how much her mother loves and misses her.

Friday, June 13, 2014

2 months

Yesterday marks 2 months. 

So much has changed in such a short amount of time, it feels like a lifetime since I have seen her face. Was it really only 2 months ago we were laughing and playing, throwing tantrums, reading books, fighting over which bow to put in her hair???  

The day she passed away I was studying for finals, just a week and a half of finals left and FINALLY I would be on break and go on vacation with the kids. I was so excited, it was my only motivation to keep studying and pushing forward just a few more days. Zach wasn't going to be able to come with us and although I was bummed out I remember thinking to myself "that's OK, this will give me some really good one on one time with the kids." 

Of course I ended up missing finals completely and the break just flew bye.

When school started again, their was no one to get ready except me,  no one to drop off except me,  no one to make breakfast for except me.  It killed me,  I cried too and from school everyday but eventually I learned the faster I got to school the easier it was to avoid the thought of her not being here so I started to show up at school at 7am just to throw my schedule completely off.

Then it all changed again this past week,  Dominic finished school and now I was going to have to take Zoe to my sisters and Zach take little man to daycare. It didn't even cross my mind if this would trigger anything at all until i walked in the door to wake her up and the first words out of my mouth were "Good morning Kenna Bear!" Zoe shot up sleepy but with a huge smile. Tears filled my eyes as I grabbed her and hugged her close, I am so grateful for my little Zoe but at the moment how I wished my Kenna Bear could be here too. 

Even after I started changing her clothes and getting her ready to go i found myself slipping and calling her McKenna. This is not the first time that I have had my "mix ups" I've walked to pick her up from nursery after church, I've ordered her food at restaurants, I still call her room  "McKenna's room". 

This week was rough, finally getting the urn, the change of schedules, and it being 2 months since I've seen that cheesy crooked grin I find myself desperate for peace. When Satan screams in my ear "this is only getting WORSE, no one cares  about your SUFFERING, the Lord does not hear your plea for HELP, this life is just filled with MISERY and UNFAIRNESS, you will NEVER FIND HAPPINESS." I scream even louder to God "ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME! DO YOU SEE ME DOWN HEAR IN THIS HOLE! WHERE ARE YOU???" 

I hear a tiny whisper but an even stronger wrenching tug on my heart... 
"I see you, I hear you, I am with you, I know you, I know your pain, I am proud of you, you are strong, you will get through this, I will show you, I will bring you up, I will give you peace, I will show you a love and understanding greater then anything you have ever known, not only will you get through this but you will HEAL, know that she is with me, she is happy, she is at peace, she is prefect, she sees you, she is proud of you and we both love you so much."

Who better to understand me then the Savior himself? Who lost His son in an unfair way, who watched their son suffer due to a unkind world, who showed us all that there is life after death? I am so grateful for that promise, I am so grateful for eternity with my daughter, that she is not just ashes in a glass cage but that she is alive and well, waiting to see me again and watching over our family. I thank God for all that I have and even all that I have lost. I am humbled by the love He pours out on me over and over again. "Life is meant to be enjoyed, not just endured" and I will find my way there one day at a time with my family, my angel, and my God by my side.

The Urn

Today was the hardest day I've had since Kenna's passing...  today I finally got her urn. Everything has been delayed because 1. they misspelled her name on the death certificate which took forever to fix and they would not allow cremation until it was done and 2.  Zach and I ordered a handmade blown glass urn to put her in which took a while because of the "tender love and care" it needed. 

My heart weighs a 1000lbs as I try to accept the reality of all of this. 

She was finally coming home,  I just wished it wasn't like this. I love the urn its just as beautiful as I hoped it would be, it gave me comfort knowing that it was uniquely made and "one of a kind" just like my daughter.  It is truly gorgeous but unfortunately it does not capture my little girls true beauty. 

As we drove to take her home I held the delicate glass in my lap not realizing at first that I was holding my own daughter in my lap. Why does it have to be this way? Why can't I have the real deal? Why can I only hold clothes, jewelry and dolls? What does all this agony lead too? 

I held her close and contemplated where in the house she would go. Originally I thought my room would be best, but the urn was so beautiful it felt like a shame to keep our Kenna Bear hidden in the back so we put her in the family room. I have a little shelf there that is covered in my favorite gifts I have recieved since her service:

One is a handmade wreath,  it's made from twigs and has a collage of pictures of McKenna and our family in it. I added one of my favorite pictures of her right in the center of it. 

Another is a handmade "kenna" bear that someone stitched together. The material is made from a dress McKenna wore when she recieved her "baby blessing" from our church.

The other is a plant that reminds me that she will always be alive with us in our hearts and lastly a little statue of Jesus playing with some children (the girl being her of course.)  

I have rearranged this shelf a 100 times. Something always looked off about it. I kept trying to add things to it, take things down. I kept telling Zach "it just looks like something is missing! It's driving me crazy!" when I put her urn on the shelf today it looked absolutely perfect and then I realized... she was the missing piece. She was home, she was were she belonged, she was at peace in our house and in heaven. 

I miss her so much, it's "rough" seems like such a tiny word for how much Zach and I have had to bare, how heavy our burden has felt, how sad these bodies seem to be.  I think of her often, I talk to her in the car just like we always did, I sing her favorite songs, I hug her clothes tightly. I FINALLY received almost all of the last outfit she wore before I had that horrible conversation with a man I never met in a doctors coat avoiding eye contact with me as he told me my daughter was "dead" . That hellish nightmare of a day haunts me even when I'm awake. 

All that being said, I'm so glad to have my baby girl is home, in its own strange way it brings me peace. Today marks a new day for my little family and I. God has made things so clear for me, He has spoken to this broken heart and told me how to fix it, some of the pieces are missing but the heart can still beat on. I am grateful for his little lights of comfort, the angels who have held my hand in this life and the next. I love you Kenna Bear, good night and welcome home.

Mental status

I just want to clarify something for everyone, I have gotten a ton of messages from people who love me and are worried about my mental status because of what I write on Facebook. I understand your concerns and even appreciate your intentions to make sure I'm ok. Thank you, you are all so amazing and supportive,  I love your comments and messages. 

My writings of McKenna are not a white flag saying "I surrender and all is lost" that  could not be further from my true intentions. 

I write because I don't get to talk about McKenna very much during the day and I like to let her know I'm thinking about her.


I write because I'm not very good at expressing my feelings face to face and have always been better at "writing it out".


I write because there is no one to interrupt, change the subject, or distract me from sharing my feelings.  

I write because when I take the time to put all of my thoughts down by hand I get to really think about what I want to say and express what's on my heart. 

I write because it reminds me that I have a lot to be grateful for and helps me put things in perspective. 

But I mainly write to preserve her memory, to share a little piece of my Kenna Bear with everyone so all can know how amazing she is. To laugh at her craziness, to understand how she loved, to see that even if you didn't know her she was an amazing little angel and still is. 

Yes, life is tough right now. I still cry everyday and every night. I still feel awkward being out and about with people, I still feel depressed and mourn the loss of my daughter but there are happy moments too. 

My husband, my son, and both my daughter's are my life and even though a piece of the puzzle is missing and there is a hole in this families heart we are still moving, I wouldn't say moving forward just yet but we are moving and we are even more grateful for the time that we have together then ever before. 

We are broken but that is ok, there is a time and a place for everything and sometimes I don't feel the need to be funny, friendly,  or hide that I am hurting. Other times I just want to laugh, reminisce, or forget reality for a few minutes.. 

So just for your peace of mind here is proof that we are not always on the verge of tears, sometimes we are happy and that's ok too. 

Thanks again for your love and concerns. I really do love to read your comments and private messages. Thanks for letting me share my daughter with you.


I dreamed about you last night but this one was different from the last one. 

In the last one I knew you were gone but in this one I was told that I had left you at daycare this whole time and they were just waiting for me to pick you up. They gave me a bill for over a $1000 to pay for having to watch you so long. I was so happy I paid them twice the price and picked you up. I just kept thinking to myself "I knew you weren't dead! I knew I wouldn't loose you to something as simple as drowning! I knew it!" I hugged and kissed you and took a million pictures. 

You were just as happy as you always were, as if nothing had ever happened, as if you were never gone. You kept trying to squirm out of my arms to go play but I wouldn't let it happen. I just kept holding you, kissing you, telling you how much I loved you and playing with you while still having you wrapped inside my arms. 

Then I woke up, I woke up with a smile and a wave of relief as I thought "I knew she was alive!"  I felt myself getting up to go run to your room... and then something didn't feel right. I saw the doll I have been sleeping with that reminds me of you and quickly realized the truth. Then came that too familiar pain in my heart and water in my eyes. The sting of death is a nasty one. 

I would rather dream of you every night and deal with you not being here when I wake up then not have any dreams of you at all. I pray for the dreams to keep coming, there so rare that I make a point to write them down when I get them so I can remember our time together. I love you baby girl, I have been replaying that dream over and over again today. It was great to see you and until we meet again,  these will be our new memories.

Daddy's girl

Everything seems to be getting harder, I have actually been warned about this since day one but I guess I underestimated it's true power. 

Nights are by far the worst, every night I find myself drowning in tears,  a pain so deep like someone is literally drilling a hole through my chest, in my heart, and out my back. It's almost handicapping but as always your dad comes to save the day. 

Last night as I laid there in my tears trying so hard to calm myself down he wrapped his arms around me and said "We're going to be OK Shannon,  we are going to get through this, I will always be here for you,  I am so proud of you, you are handling everything so well,  everything is going to be alright." Your dad is a such a spiritual giant,  I could never do this without him. 

I can honestly say that NO ONE was as close as you two were. From day one you were a daddy's girl. I remember you being so tiny, too little to talk or walk, the moment daddy came home from work you just lit up, nothing but smiles and laughter. You would do anything for him. I never knew your dad could become so soft and squishy, he melted under your spell, you had him very tightly wrapped around your finger to the point where it was becoming a discipline problem. He could find no wrong in the tantrums and sass, he would just laugh and start tickeling you. You made his day everyday,  you and your siblings. 

He loves you so much and hurts just as deeply as I do, he just shows it in a different way. He stays strong for the family but when it is just us we share our deepest secrets, the unavoidable guilt, fears, pain, sorrows, regrets. Things we know we had no control over but still wish we did. Your loss is a heavy burden to bare but I'm grateful that I have your father by my side to hold me through this storm. 

Thank you for teaching us so much about ourselves in this life, who would we be had we not met our little Kenna Bear? Thank you for showing me how deeply your daddy could love, how much patience, compassion, and care he could show. Because of you I got to see a new man build before me, one that is gentle and kind not just rough and tough with your brother. We both wondered what it would be like to have a baby girl after having dinosaur loving, superhero fighting, strongest boy ever Dominic.


We both thought it would be weird and possibly wouldn't even be very good at raising a little girly girl but you proved us wrong from the very first heartbeat,  we both changed that day and we have both changed since you're last but only for the better my love. 

Even though we're suffering now we have made goals in this family that we probably never would have even thought to achieve if it wasn't for you. Your always showing us new heights. You will always be our first born daughter, you will always be the biggest daddy's girl we've ever seen, you will always be our little guardian angel. We love and miss you so much.


They always say that everyone mourns differently and I have gotten a full dose of this. I have watched the reactions of so many people since the passing of my daughter and it is a tough thing to watch. I myself am grieving in ways I never thought of, I find myself doing things I would NEVER do, things that are completely contradictory to my personality. 

One that I have noticed the most is hugging people. I have to say over all I am NOT a touchy-feely person ESPECIALLY when I am upset but ever since McKenna died, deep down I always feel a VERY STRONG need to hug EVERYONE! The weirdest part of it all is I feel an even STRONGER need to hug people that I'm not even that close too. 

I have been thinking about this strange urge for the last few weeks and finally realized why I feel this way...  I miss McKenna's hugs. 

When I think about McKenna most of my daydreams are about hugging her again.  Most of my memories of her are about all the hugs we shared. At night before bed I squeeze her little doll because it's the closest I can get to the real deal. McKenna was a hugger/cuddler/lover. She LOVED to snuggle, to hold hands, to be held. She was a very touchy-feely kid and when I was with her she always melted this tough exterior into a giant mushy-gushy mommy. 

Our mornings were the exact same routine every single day she would wake up and call out for daddy even though she knew that I was the only one who ever got her up and ready for the day (such a daddy's girl) then I would go in her room and say with a big smile "morning Kenna Bear" and she would plop back down in her bed and hide (she was not a morning person, just like her daddy) then I would tickle her till I got a smile, pick her up and we would hug. I would hold her and squeeze her and rock back and forth until she gave me the "ok" by lifting her head off my shoulder. Then I would lay her on the ground and she would want to cuddle up with me down there as well so I would lay on the ground next to her and let her hold my face and give it little kisses and tell me "I love you mommy" then I would kiss her cheek, her nose, then her other cheek and say "I love you Kenna Bear" and THEN we would start our day. 

That is no exaggeration of our mornings, it was about a 5-10 minute process everyday and I loved it. I NEVER rushed that part of my day even if I was already running late because the mornings and the drives to and from school were my only real time with her. Being a full time medical student I was gone most days and home late at night, so I absorbed every second of love and affection I could get in that little time frame to hold me over till I could do it again because every mom knows that we get our super powers from our children. 

Their love, their kisses, their hugs are like rechargable batteries for parents. That's how we are able to do what we do, that's how I was able to do what I do! That's  how I was able to face another day at school, that's how I was able to work so hard and do every thing in my power to spend even the tiniest of time with my family, that's how I was able to pull myself in 10 million different directions and still smile. 

Not having that morning snuggle time is rough, not having those little kisses are unbearable, but not being able to hug her makes me cry every-single-day. I miss those hugs, i miss that tiny body wrapped competley around mine, I miss those big hazel eyes looking deep into my soul reminding me how lucky I am. 

Zach and I had it all, a happy marriage, a beautiful home, and 3 amazing kids.  Maybe we had it too good, maybe this life was too easy for us and like Job in the Bible we needed to be challenged more to show who we really are.  I'm not really sure yet why she's gone but what I do know is this is not the end.  I'm still so blessed in so many ways and even though the days are long and the house feels empty without her I know there is a purpose in all things. I know my daughter did not just die and that is the end of the story, I know I'm not left here to just suffer and feel miserable till we see each other  again. No, that's not my story, my story is painful but my story has a purpose, my story has hope, my story has love, my story will have a happy ending and this story doesn't end until I get another hug from my daughter. 

I know that families are forever <3

Starting back at school

Starting back at school last week was even harder then I already predicted it would be. Not only did I make up 7 exams that I missed (and still have 1 more to go) but I am trying to keep up with the first week of school material and already I feel like I am failing. I have all the help a human being could possibly ask for but the one thing I need the most help with can't be helped! 

I need my daughter back, I need my life to go back to the simple beautiful life that it was, I need to hold her and tell her how much I love her but I cant, there is no going back, only looking back and while I am looking back there the rest of the world keeps moving forward and is dragging me in its trails. It is so difficult to focus because most of the time I feel like I am trying to hold my head up as if to say, "don't mind me, nothings wrong here". 

Trying to remind myself how important school is right now seems so trivial. WHO CARES, you want to fail me then GO AHEAD, at the end of the day when I lay my head down I won't be thinking about all the information being thrusted down my throat, I will still be fantasizing about a little blonde girl, playing on the trampoline and laughing uncontrollably as her daddy and brother pretend to chase her. 

I'm stuck somewhere between her death and life, half the time I'm crying I'm not even sure what started it. Sometimes I will be doing something and I will feel my heart pounding out of my chest and I will think to myself "what's wrong with me?" and then I realize I am in her room... which is now Zoe's room... picking out an outfit for Zoe... where her clothes use to be only a little over a month ago. 

I'm not bitter, I'm just sad, I'm not angry, I just miss her, I'm not trying to be negative, I just can't help that it hurts to be here without her and everything else that use to seem so important just feels so obsolete. 

All I can focus on is the one thing that gives me comfort, my new obsession, my life long goal. What do I need to do to make sure that we get back to her? If she saw me right now would she be proud? What can I do? Who can I help? What can I say? I will do anything to be by her side, I never want another moment to pass that didn't honor her for the real angel that she is. I know that she wants to see me too so when it's my turn to go and I stand before God and her, there will be no hesitation, no questioning, no doubts. My daughter and I will be together again, I just have to wait longer then I would like. 

I love you Kenna-Bear, good night <3

Proud parents

The last few nights have been very tender between your dad and I. As reality begins to sink in we can't help but cry with one another about how sad we are that you are gone.  

While we prayed together on our knees before bed last night I realized how proud I am of you. What an amazing woman you must be that you didn't have to face all the trials of this earthly life to prove you belonged with the Lord and all His glory,  how lucky I am that God thought I was good enough to raise such a valiant daughter for a short 2 years, how blessed I am to know that you will never have to suffer another day in your life,  that you are happy,  that you are perfect. 

Dad and I love you so much,  you will always be our little ray of sunshine.  Right now life does not shine as brightly without your giant smile here. We miss your love and can't wait to see you again. 

"you are my sunshine 

my only sunshine 

you make me happy 

when skies are gray 

you'll never know dear 

how much I love you 

please don't take 

my sunshine away"

1 month

Today marks the first month of McKenna being gone and I am still in disbelief.  I keep waiting for reality to sink in that my daughter really isn't on some vacation and will be home soon but that she IS GONE! She is not coming back home to ME, she is waiting for me to come back home to her.  

It feels like it has only been a week since I found out,  there is a giant wound open and infected oozing for all the world to see and yet I am suppose to move forward???  Not only does that seem impossible but it feels SO WRONG.

How can I move forward? How can I leave her behind? How can I pretend to be happy when I'm not?  How can I not tell everyone who insist on asking how I'm doing that "I'm OK" when in reality all I want to say is "I lost my daughter and I miss her so much". 

I start school tomorrow and my make up finals today and I have never dreaded going back to school so much in my life. It signifies that I have to keep moving,  I have to socialize and talk about things that do not always revolve around her, I have to interact with people who have never met her or even heard of her, I have to somehow make my brain focus on studying even though I honestly don't even care about my education right now. 

It's not that I will never move forward,  it's not that I won't be happy again, it's just the fact that moving forward is accepting her death.  Moving forward is knowing that from now on I will be the mother who lost a child, moving forward means this really is "my story" and I am starting a new chapter in my life and...  I am not ready to accept that.  

Right now I just want to mourn.  No distractions,  no reality,  just mourn the loss of a beautiful angel who only exist in memories and heaven. I realize that this will never end,  I realize that even though you move forward you never move on, I realize that from now on everything will just be my "new normal" and eventually I will have to accept that but today... I will not.

My little sign of hope

Before I found out that I was pregnant with McKenna I had a vision one day while cooking dinner in the kitchen.  I am not someone who normally gets visions or anything like that.  It was extremely short, almost gone in a blink of an eye but it felt so real. I saw a little girl standing next to me at the stove, she was about 8 years old, her lips were moving but I could not hear what she was saying but somehow I knew what she was talking about, she was telling me about her day. In that less then a second moment I felt so much love for this little stranger. I was so happy to be talking about her day, watching her help me cook, feeling her love. As soon as it was over I took a double take to see if the little girl was still there but she was gone.

Not much longer after that I found out I was pregnant and was not surprised at all when we found out it was a girl. I knew that tiny vision was her giving me a sign of hope,  letting me know she was coming because we had been trying so hard to have another child, she was just waiting for the right moment to come and I am so glad she came when she did. 

I always looked forward to the day when she would be 8 years old, talking to me about her day while helping me cook and I could see that vision come to life and tell her all about it,  how she was my little sign of hope. I'm sad I didn't get it, I'm sad that I won't get to see in this life all the things she would have become, all the people she would have touched, all the memories we would have shared. I know we will be together again but at the moment time is not my friend and I miss her so much. 

I'm grateful for all the moments we did share though, I'm grateful for the crazy, messy, wild but sweet little ball of energy she was. I miss her voice, her laughter, her loudness. The house is so quiet without her.

She will always be my little sign of hope. Hope that one day we will be together, hope that one day I will hold her again and feel her tender embrace,  hope I will see that sweet smile, hope that I will get to raise her in heaven, hope that we will share more memories there,  hope that I will feel her love the love only a daughter and a mother can know. Hope is what I live for now, hope in knowing that families can be together forever no matter how far apart they may seem. Thank you Kenna Bear for always giving me and still giving me hope.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pink Balloons

The day of her service was absolutely beautiful. All week I was so worried that it was going to be cold, wet and rainy. Ever since she had passed away the weather had been very dark and dreary. It actually gave me a lot of comfort. I was glad that nature seemed to be mourning the loss of my little girl with me. I remember staring out my kitchen window looking where we had just played outside on the trampoline only 2 days ago. Was she really dead? The last few days were a blur. It felt like there was never an ending or a beginning to a day, it just kept going and going and going. I kept getting flashes of the scene at the hospital: the doctor telling me it was too late, my mother in a bikini wrapped in a hospital blanket crying over my 2 1/2 year old daughter and screaming to me "I'M SORRY SHANNON, I'M SO SORRY!" I still didn't know what had happened or what was going on even though someone at some point had said it,  I just couldn't comprehend the answer. 

Finally a police officer approached me and started asking questions about my role in this chaos.

"Are you the mother of McKenna Bundy?"
"Yes, I am"
"Do you know what happened here?"
"No, I don't. It's finals week at school, the kids went over to my moms while I was studying."
"Do they normally do that?"

And that's when time stopped, thats when the nights never came but the sun never rised.

She drowned??? Are you kidding me??? My daughter??? My water loving, swam awesome for a 2 year old, fun in the sun baby girl drowned??? THIS CANNOT BE REAL!!! Do you know how many stories of drowning I have heard about and thought "What an irresponsible way to lose a child, I am so glad all my children know how to swim." or "that would be a terrible way to lose someone, its seems so easily avoidable!" Yet here I was in a hospital, with the sweetest little girl I ever knew, and she was gone because she drowned!  

I stood there in shock as I could hear the classic phrase ring through my ears "you never think it will happen to you".  I cried and screamed to my husband "NO! THIS ISN'T OUR STORY, THIS IS NOT WHAT HAPPENS! THIS IS NOT OUR STORY!  WE GO THROUGH TRIALS BUT NOT THIS ONE! WE DON'T LOSE A CHILD! THIS IS NOT OUR STORY! " 

I remember being told by several people, "Children can drown in as little as 6 inches of water in just 20 seconds." 20 seconds? Did my life just completley change because of 20 seconds? There was no anger, no grudges,  just numbness. I knew immediately I couldn't get her back and blaming others wouldn't bring her back either. So in one swift motion instead of focusing on if it was anyone's fault or why it happened, I used my time to mourn my daughter. I held her close, I whispered of my great love for her, I pecked her with kisses, and then my husband and I finally said our goodbyes.

That day at the hospital was by far the worst day of my life. I am still not ready to talk about it, but one thing I will share, I knew I could NOT see her dead body again. My body, my emotions, my soul could not handle it ever again.

The idea of a funeral seemed like a true nightmare. "I don't want everyone dressed in black!" McKenna was such a bright soul, she loved BRIGHT PINK! In fact the last day I saw her that's exactly what she was wearing: a pink shirt, with pink pants, pink shoes, pink socks, pink sunglasses, and a spider man hat (funny enough she was a tomboy). "I don't want a dreary casket with everyone hanging over it!" I could just envision everyone screaming, crying and wailing all over it. 

NO, I could not do any of that. 

I begged my husband over and over again. "There has to be another way. I can't do this! Please help me think of something else!" Then the idea came. A balloon releasing ceremony. We could do it on Good Friday and everyone could wear their "Easter colorful best". There was a park we had been to many times that had a beautiful lake in the middle of it, and we could release... all pink balloons!

The more I thought about it the more peace it gave me.  I knew this is what she would have wanted. 

I wish I could have seen her reaction to over 300 pink balloons being released into the heavens (not including the ones released from everyone who couldn't make it). Each balloon had her name on it and a personal note expressing our love for her. Notes telling her how much we missed her, how we hoped to see her soon, and how this was not the end. I know she loved it. I know without a doubt she was smiling from ear to ear with that cheesy crooked grin.

Our 6 year old son Dominic released the first balloon, then our little 7 month old baby girl Zoe, then my husband Zach and I. Releasing my balloon was the hardest thing I ever had to do because it came with the truth. The truth that she was gone, this was a funeral ceremony, and this was "Good bye".  After our family released the balloons there was a pause and then a shout came from the crowd "WE LOVE YOU MCKENNA" and the sky turned pink. Not a cloud in the sky, not a wet blade of grass, and not a cold chill in the wind. That beautiful day was a gift from God for my daughter to give us one glimpse of light in a very dark moment.

My daughter left a burning desire in me to carry on her name so that she may continue to touch lives the way she was suppose to in this life. She still has more work to do. Her short 2 1/2 years on this earth were only the beginning of her story. My family and I are here to carry on the work of my daughter, to "pay it forward", to try to fill those tiny shoes which now seem so large. I know the story doesn't end here but I myself don't know the ending. All I know is that I am suppose to share this with all those who want to listen. So with a broken heart and a heavy soul we are starting a new life, one that is not in our control and does not play by our rules. We are here to do whatever needs to be done to see our daughter again in Heaven and we are here to share her story, our experiences, and try to heal along the way. I miss her so much but strangely enough writing about her brings me so much peace. I think it's because in some ways it allows me to let her live on, to keep her existence in this world and it makes me feel like she is still here with me. I am grateful and humbled to share her love with others, the same amazing love she showed me every single day of her life.

Zach and I praying after our daughters beautiful service.
McKenna Eve Bundy
Born: November 17, 2011
Died: April 12, 2014
Our precious Kenna Bear, forever and always.