The first balloon ever released...

The first balloon ever released...

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. 


  1. Beautiful words. Even though I, too, have lost a child I can only imagine your pain and heartache. Thank you for a glimpse of your heart.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing Shanon! I admire your strenght she'll always be with you don't doubt that. You're always on my prayers friend :)

  3. this blog is an excellent idea. I love reading your postings. they are so meaningful and positive. You are a pillar of strength. A lot of people are learning from you. thank you. love you.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing. Heaven received a beautiful angel. We don't know why it happened only God does and she is playing along side him today. May God bless you and your family and give you the strength and peace you are so looking for. Our prayers are with yall.

  5. Shannon, I am so thankful you are blogging. Every morning I jump out of bed to check fb hoping you have written. On the days you wrote, I would read, gain greater understanding and cry. Your writing to McKenna brings joy, peace and relief to me. I do not express myself in words or writings and you express them for me. Pepaw and I cry every night when we say our prayers. We have always prayed for the family but now we pray for understanding and peace for you, Zach and Steely. Then we just cry for our loss of McKenna. Our hearts are broken, our loss is great. I wonder why I did not die in November, just to lose Kennabear just a few months later. I loved that you and Zach would share your family with us on Monday for Family Home Evening. McKenna and Steely never did not want to sit by me, hug me or kiss me. Kenna would climb (she did love to climb to the ceiling!) upon my dining room chair and stand in it, wave her hand for me to come sit beside her (no matter how hungry she was). She would make certain our plates touched and I fed her with the purple baby spoon (which is yours from when you were little). The girl could eat and often Zach would tell her to forget eating and lets start FHE. THE REST I WILL HAVE TO EMAIL YOU AS I HAVE WRITTEN TOO MANY WORDS. SORRY

  6. ....trying to paste the rest....When it came time to sing she would go get on the piano and just play and smile like she was directing us. I loved to see her tell her Dad that she was going to do it (whatever it was) and he should let her. Zach always did, because who could say no to McKenna. She loved everyone and made sure, everyone felt loved and part of the group. I think she got that from the Steely's and not the Bundy side of the family. When McKenna would see Pepaw, she would run and jump in his arms. She had the biggest capacity to love everyone. Yes, she love to be a fashionesta, like her mommy and she had her own style, like her mommy. Many are grieving our loss. None as you, Zach and Steely but your blogs lets us grieve with you. It lets us know how the three of you are doing. It says what we can not and would not. It answers our questions and comforts us. I want to be with you and Zach every day.

  7. ....more....I want to just sit in your family room and let you each know that I love you and care for you. I am such a pain in the booty to get loaded up, unloaded and clear the way that I do not drop by. Just know that I want to! I want to feel your family's spirit. I want to hold your hands. I want to be a support for each of you. Through the blog I can feel your spirits, your love, your grief, your pain and your emptiness. How blessed Pepaw and I are to have you, Zach, Steely and Zoe as grandsons and granddaughters! Thank you for sharing! Please keep on sharing! It is helping all of us grieve. It gives us an understanding of Heavenly Father. We all wonder, could we bear the loss of a child? It is the last thing anyone wants to have happen. How did God bear the loss of his Son? I can not image what you and Zach must feel. Your range of emotions. I have not said the things that you usually say...."it was God's plan"..."It will get better"..."Time heals all things" ...All these things I know you know.

  8. ....MORE!!......All these things I know you know. I know it was God's plan ....but I might get mad at God (just as God was angry with those that killed his Son) and I think you might from time to time. "It will get better"...true, but when and how long? Sister Berges, after her son died from brain cancer told me that there are no words, only tears. She said you think of that child everyday for the rest of your life. Your Aunt Judy never forgets her son, Trent nor his daughter, Kendall. Everyday her heart hurts some for them. You get better, you love your other children and you find joy and laughter BUT you never forget that child. President George Bush had all those boys and his little girls died at the age of three, several years later he wrote his mother telling her how he will always have a three year old angel. She will not age, she will not change. He said he thinks she will be 3 when he sees her in Heaven. Now, I have rambled, which is why I do not speak with you. I want to bring you joy, love and understanding. I want to be a support to you, to lift you and your family. Shannon, I pray that you will always love me and forgive me if I offend you. I am not polished with the ability to say

  9. .....almost to the the iron rod so we may be a family united for eternity and there will be McKenna, in all of Glory waiting for you and us. love ya, memaw

  10. I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to your daughter.