The first balloon ever released...

The first balloon ever released...

Sunday, July 27, 2014


I'm sitting here watching my baby girl Zoe play so happily and I can't help but be so grateful for her. Unlike McKenna who was so thoroughly planned, Zoe was a TOTAL SURPRISE. The honest truth is I cried when I found out I was pregnant with Zoe. It wasn't that I didn't want more children because I love kids and want a big family. It was just the timing that scared me. We had tried so desperately to get pregnant with McKenna, it took over a year of hard work and money to find out that I "have the estrogen levels of an old lady" as my doctor so gently broke the news to me of why we were having such a difficult time.

With Zoe I was fully protected, extra careful, pregnancy no where on my mind and BAM there she was catching both my husband and I completely off guard. I didn't even know how to tell people because at first I was not excited, I was terrified. I was only in my 2nd trimester of medical school, we were not planning on having another child till I graduated (which is 10th trimester = 3 years later). McKenna was only 1. I had just lost all the baby weight, got my hormones back in sync, stopped breastfeeding, just to find out that I was about to start over again and on top of all of that... we were about to be outnumbered. We were about to have 3 KIDS versus 2 PARENTS at the age of 24!!! I was freaking out!

My pregnancy FLEW BY! I guess because I was in school full time and this was my 3rd child I already knew the routine. We ended up buying our first home (which is the same one we are living in now). We moved in and the following week I went into labor. It was the quickest delivery of my life. I remember at one point when I told the doctor I could feel her coming I looked at my husband and asked "Am I dreaming?" We had only been at the hospital 3 hours and an hour of that was just getting registered, all my family had just arrived at the hospital when the doctor said to leave so he could see how far along I was. 30 minutes and 3 pushes later she was out! Once again Zoe had surprised us all. The moment she was born all the worries, doubts and fears left just like I knew they would. She fit in perfectly with our perfect little family. Dominic was happy to have another sister even though he was secretly hoping the whole time she would end up being a boy and I would have to pull McKenna off of Zoe to stop her from smothering her with kisses.

Of Course getting the routine down in the beginning with 3 kids was difficult. I still had to go back to school, Zach still had work, Dominic started kindergarten, and McKenna was in daycare. With a lot of late nights and sleeping in most of my classes we figured it out and then I couldn't even remember what life was like to just have 2 kids. Lucky for me Zoe is the most easy going baby of all. She is always happy, always smiling, always in a good mood. While I was taking care of sassy McKenna, Zoe would wait patiently for me to wait on her. While I was negotiating chores and homework with Dominic, Zoe would still patiently wait her turn. It's like she knew she was the 3rd child and mommy had her hands full. I would keep her up a little later then the other 2 so we could have a little quiet time together and catch up on all the snuggling we missed out on for the day.

As time went on I forgot about all the questions I had asked God during that pregnancy, "why now? Can't you see how hard this is going to be?" "I want to be a good mom so I need more time!" "Couldn't you have waited just a little bit longer?" Never again did those questions enter my mind, even though they were never answered I didn't worry about it. I figured she needed to be here and couldn't wait a minute longer so she came as fast as she could. It wasn't until McKenna passed away that I remembered those questions which seemed to match the same questions I was asking about McKenna "Why now? Can't you see how hard this is going to be" "I want to be a good mom so I need more time!" "Couldn't you have waited just a little bit longer?" It was then that I realized why Zoe came when she did, God knew I couldn't handle McKenna's death without her.

If Zoe wasn't there I would have had a 3 bedroom home for only 1 child (Dominic). I would have a little girls room with no little girl in it. I would have had a bright pink room that would probably have stayed there forever. It would have haunted me, tease me, and be a constant reminder of how miserable I am.  I wouldn't have ANY daughters. I wouldn't have anyone to play with her dolls, grow into her clothes, sleep in her bed, I probably would have made her room like a museum that no one was allowed to go in or touch and then finally one day just give it all away out of hopes of moving on, but I didn't have to do any of that. Zoe makes it all bearable.

She allows McKenna to live on through her, she plays with her toys instead of them sitting there like statues. She sleeps in her bed and listens to me sing just like McKenna use too. She lets me dress her up in her big sisters bows and one day some of her clothes (some outfits though I will probably never be able to see on another blonde hair, blue eyed girl). Although personality wise they are nothing alike, it does make the burden easier to bare knowing that at least I have one baby girl left here with me, Dominic still has a little sister, my husband still has a daughter. Yes, McKenna will still be all of those things to us, but it does soften the blow to see Zoe's smiling face reminding us how blessed we were to have our Kenna Bear in this home and until we can see her again she will live in the smile of her younger sister.

I am so grateful that sometimes God does not listen to me. My mourning would have taken a turn for the worse had it been just my little man and husband. Of course I adore my son but Zoe helps fill the gap that is always present in our home. She can never fully replace it but having her here at this time in our lives is exactly where she needed to be and I think she knew that. I think that's why she came so quick, why she couldn't wait a minute longer, why the Lord sent as fast as He did. He knew that we were about to face a heavy burden, one that no parent should ever have to experience so he gave us our happy easy going Zoe to smooth out the pain and help us to keep breathing, to give us purpose in living, to wear pink.

I know that Dominic will always look out for her and treasure her as his little sister just like he did McKenna. I know he too is grateful that at least we have Zoe and glad that she is not a little brother after all. The Lord always has a plan, He knows what we need before we do. He knew this 2 1/2 years ago before it even happened and He knew we could not handle this trial without help. He knows our pain and suffering. We are given hard trials but even in our darkest hour we are never truly alone.

Thank God for my children, I love them all so much. I ache knowing that Zoe will have no memories of her older sister, in fact she will probably see herself as the first born daughter. That is a hard concept to swallow. McKenna would have been the most amazing sister, she adored Zoe and Dominic with all of her tiny heart. She had a love inside of her that not many others could show the way she did. She loved and loved and loved some more. She often cuddled with Zoe and Dominic. Forced them to hug and kiss her, laughed at their silly ways, followed them wherever they went, held them when they cried and always kissed them goodnight. I know she is watching over them closely in heaven still being Zoe's big sister and Dominic's little one. Oh how I wish she was still here.

I know that with time God will answer the same questions as He did with Zoe. One day I will understand the "why?" behind all of this pain but for now I will be grateful for what He has given me. He gave me hope in my darkest hour, He gave me 2 daughters, a son, a husband, and a home for all of our memories to be remembered in forever. How can I be angry when I have been given so much? I can't be and I won't be, for now I will just remember that there is a purpose behind all things. There is a plan, there is hope, there is love and someday there will be peace.

This is a video of when Zoe was born, McKenna looks so young here to me but you can still see how excited she is. I love every second of this video. I have watched it many many times.

This is just a few seconds after the first video. My favorite part is right when it starts she is saying "shhh" to Zoe because she had been crying. Then you can hear Dominic complaining that "she pushed me away like she is a real guard" because McKenna wanted to hold her and Dominic was hogging the baby so she started to push him off the chair and pull Zoe towards herself.  
Like I said, McKenna was sassy but she is the best big sister Zoe will ever have. 
(P.S. excuse how crazy Kenna looks, she was always a mess no matter how you cleaned her up, this a very typical look for her...bow missing... shoe missing... "bright eyed and bushy tailed". I miss it so much!) 

Here is a photo shoot we did with Zoe when she was about 6 months with a friend of mine
(Although she is almost a year now she looks exactly the same except with more teeth)

The kids hanging out with each other. 

The garage sale was a success! We raised $700 for the Guzman family. We ended up donating it to this family instead because the Stay family said they had reached their goal and requested that we showed someone else the same type of charity so we found 
Stephanie Guzman. 

She is a 15 year old girl whose whole family was also killed and her being the sole survivor of a drunk driver hitting their car here in Houston. We were actually able to meet some family/friends of the Guzman family and they said that she is still in the hospital under very critical condition. She is still unaware of what has happened to her family. 

She was just recently released out of the "coma ward", she cannot speak because she is being fed through a tracheal tube. She can only communicate through blinking. She has several broken vertebra's and needs skin graphs because she was badly burned in the crash. They said she EASILY has a YEAR left of hard rehab/therapy.
It was so hard not to burst into tears infront of this women. I only lost my little McKenna, I can't imagine how horrible it would be to loose your whole family and have to fight for your health at the same time. I mean she is only 15, by the time she is 16 she will hopefully have a full recovery just to start all over again by trying to figure out to be a normal teenager without her loved ones near by.
I am so happy that we reached out to this family. I hope that I can continue to help as she faces many dark days before her.
Thank you for thinking of others, thank you for taking time to consider this family and their pain, thank you for choosing to serve and help Heavenly Father's children.
I know her family is happy with Kenna Bear close by and waiting for us all to be together again. 
Please continue to serve this family as we move on with our daily lives. Your kindness had made a difference and will continue to make a positive difference in her life.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pink Dress

After McKenna passed away decisions were having to be made quickly. I have never lost someone so close to me before and was surprised at how many decisions you have to make after someone passes away. It's like planning for a wedding with 48 hours notice and no one is happy about it. You have to pick the location, who you want to speak, who you want to invite, time, colors, songs, pictures, videos, food, announcements, invitations, and the list goes on and on. It's exhausting! I don't know how anyone can make that many decisions so quickly and try to deal with the loss of a loved one but for some reason I was obsessed with getting the service figured out. I just needed it done.

Once we decided to do a balloon ceremony I thought everything would be down hill from there but I could not be further from the truth. Trying to find a location that allowed balloons to be released and hold a ton of people was very difficult. Ironically the first place I said I wanted it at was a park near my house that we had gone to many times. (It is actually the same park that I would always go walking on when I was 9 months pregnant with McKenna trying to get her out of me!) For some reason we tried to find a different place, we searched all day till everyone was warn out and grumpy and then just ended up going back to original idea = the park! Then all of the other planning fell into place thanks to family and friends.

The night before the service I did not have an outfit to wear, I had gotten so caught up in planning that I had forgotten all about it. My husband, Dominic, and Zoe had theirs and looked great. The boys both got a 3 piece grey suit with blue button down shirts and ties. I figured I would get something in blue too. My friend took me out shopping that night and the first dress we found was pink with a "sweet heart" chest line. It was very simple and had a 60's house wife kinda look to it. Although I liked it I have never been one for pink and was still in search for the perfect blue dress so we moved away from it and kept looking. We spent hours searching for a dress and I was miserable. I told my friend "How can I find the right dress? There is no such thing! How can I find the perfect dress for my daughters FUNERAL! I DONT WANT TO DO THIS, NONE OF THESE DRESSES ARE WHAT I AM LOOKING FOR AND THEY NEVER WILL BE! I WANT MY DAUGHTER AND... I am trying to find a dress that encompasses my daughter and that is never going to happen!!!" I was ready to quit and wear something I already owned but then my friend convinced me to go back and try the pink dress again. I was resistant but ended up buying the dress anyway. After we bought it the rest of the outfit seemed to just fall into our hands. We quickly found matching pink shoes, pink bracelets, pink earrings and a pink flower for my hair. I have never warn so much pink in my life!

When my friend saw it all put together she started to tear up and said how much she loved it and how it truly reminded her of McKenna. I thought about it and realized that the last time I saw McKenna she was in all pink. She was in pink shoes, with a pink shirt, pink pants, and a Spiderman hat. I looked in the mirror and had never seen myself in such an outfit, it gave me a different look, it was... soft. It wasn't too tight or to loose, too short or too long. It was perfect in every way and I knew that this is exactly what she wanted me to wear. I knew she wanted to see her mommy in her favorite color as we prepared to say goodbye. It was her little way of telling me that she was always with me, that she would always be mine.

The morning of the service I got up early to get ready, not that I could really sleep that night anyway. I was just waiting for the time to tick by so we could get this over with. I was already dressed and almost ready by the time my husband woke up. He looked up and stared at me then immediately began to cry. "You look amazing, I have never seen you look like that before. It reminds me so much of McKenna." We both began to sob and hold each other as I told him the difficult time I had yesterday trying to find just the right dress and how she led me to this one. We finished getting ready and went to the funeral. So many comments where made about the dress, so many people mentioned how they had never seen me in pink before and how I seemed to be glowing. How could I possibly be glowing in such a dark time? How could anything have light when I felt so much despair? It was my Kenna Bear. She was there to shine her light through me. To give hope not only to me, but to my husband, our family, our friends, and now even strangers.

The service is mostly a blur, I remember it being a beautiful day, I remember lots of hugs, lots of tears, and lots of balloons. My sister spoke, my husband spoke, and even I unexpectedly decided to speak. We all shared a memory of her, tried to make a smile and laugh, and did the traditional heart felt thought. I only remember one thing that I said, it was the very first words to come out of my mouth, "McKenna always left me wanting more, it took me a year of trying to get pregnant with her till we finally got her. I wanted to be around her more and more everyday she was here with me and I want her even more now that she is gone. I will always want more, it wasn't enough when she was here and now it will never be enough. I will always long for my daughter until we are together again." Those words could not be more true. I miss my daughter terribly and I can't even say "I wish I could just see her one more time" because even then, that would not come close to being enough.

I have listened to a talk MANY MANY TIMES since my little girls passing and every time I tear up when the speaker talks about why it's so hard for us to accept death. It's by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints titled "Grateful in Any Circumstance" and he says,                           

"In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings. Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny. The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions—temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful. How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings."
I am so grateful for this knowledge and peace of mind. I cannot imagine what a drunk, bitter, and terrible disaster I would be if I did not have this truth in my life. My love for my daughter and my love for my Savior go hand in hand. I feel no need to look into the Heaven's and curse God for this unbearable challenge. Although I have started my prayers many times with "Why Lord? Why?" By the end of the prayer I find myself in tears of gratitude saying "Just tell me what you want me to do and I will do it. I will do anything to show my gratitude for having her for the 2 1/2 years that I did. I will honor her in every way that I know how, just show me what to do." I know that my Savior loves me and even though I can't see the whole picture right now, I know there is more to "the plan". I was sent to this earth with a purpose and that purpose is not misery but something beautiful that my daughter would be proud of, I intend on striving towards this purpose until I find it. My mission in life is to finish the work of my daughter and just like I know she would have done many great things in this life, I know my Father in Heaven is helping me to do many great things through her too.  
A friend sent me this video today of the service.
Of course it made me cry.

Here are some pictures my good friend took of my family at the Temple when Dominic was adopted and sealed to Zach and I. We wanted to wear the same outfits we wore the day of the her service and carry pink balloons with us to show that her funeral did not separate us, we are a family sealed together for all time and eternity and we will all be together again someday.

We decided to do a garage sale for the Stay Family NEXT Saturday, July 26, 2014. It will be from 7am-noon. If you would like to donate anything or even buy something message me and I will send you more information. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Stay family. Thank you to all that have already donated and helped with this project so far, it means so much to my family and I.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The "Stay Family"

I use to NEVER be able to handle a sad story about a child. Whenever people would say "Oh man I heard the saddest story the other day!" I would stop them dead in their tracts and ask "Is it about a child? Because if it is don't tell me, I can't handle that!". I don't know why but those stories wouldn't just depress me and make me think, "Oh man, that is terrible", it would leave me floored. I would get knots in my stomach and just cry for these poor innocent children and the poor parents that had lost them. It would follow me around for weeks and I would ache as if I knew them personally. My husband has always told me there is no way he would ever take me near an adoption center unless we were serious, because he is 110% sure I would leave with several children. He is right. I love kids, I love families, and I hate the idea of anything bad  ever happening to them.

Now for some reason that has changed. It use to be when I would see a link to a news report about child abuse, tragic accidents, or anything that even hinted sadness with children I would quickly scroll pass it. I'd pretend I didn't really see it so therefore it didn't really exist. Now I read all of them. It still makes me sick to my stomach, I still get the knots and the depression for days but for some reason I embrace it. I obsess over these sad stories and all of these people suffering and I can't help but "compare notes". How did the parents handle it? How are the other kids? How is the rest of the family? Were they good parents? Did they have a part to play in the death? Were they being responsible? Was it a total accident? What are they going to do now?

Yesterday I had let these stories get the best of me. I had read three terrible stories in one day and it was killing me. I kept taking breaks to go cry in the bathroom and mourn all of these babies who had suffered such tragic deaths. Some were on accident and some of them were just pure evil. I felt like I had gained 50lbs. I could not stop thinking about these children and their last few moments in life. How frightened they must have been, how sad and terrified, and how no one was their to save them. Why is this world so awful? As I was sinking even deeper into despair I thought of my little McKenna and then a beautiful idea popped into my mind. I bet McKenna is greeting them right now. I bet she is running up to those little angels, excited to have new friends to play with. I bet she's telling them how safe they are here, how happy they will be, and how the rest of their loved ones will be here soon.

I could see her as the "hostess" of heaven. It fits her perfectly. She was super friendly and she loved people. She always gave hugs and kisses. She always made sure that you heard her tell you goodbye before she left. She always did the classic run and jump in your arms when you walked into the door. She was my little socialite. I remember picking her up from daycare one day. She ran up to me, I picked her up and gave her a big hug. One of the little boys in her class was crying so she asked me to put her down. She went up to him (even though he was sitting "criss cross apple sauce") and awkwardly squatted to give him a hug. Immediately the boy smiled and returned the hug. Soon a little boy behind her said softly "I want a hug". "OK" she said happily and ran up to the other boy and gave him a hug. Then a little girl piped up loudly as if it were unfair "HEY, I WANT A HUG". "OK" she said and ran to hug the little girl too. Now the whole class was in an uproar, all demanding a hug from McKenna. Not once did she get upset or even slow down. With each child she just said "OK" and ran to hug them. I just stood by and adored the whole scene. Kids are so sweet! I couldn't get over how naturally loving she was. With no effort at all she hugged all of her classmates happily and embraced each one of them just as lovingly as she did the first.

I admired her compassion and thought to myself, "I bet she will grow up and do some kind of job that requires her to serve others, maybe like a non-profit organization or a nurse." Little did I know that my daughters purpose in this life was much greater than any of these jobs. She was sent here to teach my family and I a whole new understanding on what this life is really about. She has taught me so much and is still teaching me how to love, how to show more compassion, and how to truly be a servant of the Lord. I have never felt such a deep pain in my heart but at the same time I never knew that I was capable of feeling such compassion towards others. I have learned that you can truly help others by more then just saying "I'm sorry for your loss", you can serve them, even when they say "No, I am ok thanks". You can show love by taking action, don't take no for an answer! Serve anyway, who doesn't appreciate a gift of love, a kind gesture, a simple effort showing you care. Whether a stranger or a family member, everyone needs help.

I thought about this and decided to follow in my daughters foot steps. Today marks 3 months since her passing so Zach and I have come up with a project we are calling "McKenna's Together Forever Plan". We made a chart of things we need to accomplish once a month that we believe will help us get back to our Kenna Bear some day. On this chart are 5 things: go to the LDS Temple, memorize a scripture, go visiting and home teaching (That is something we do in our church where we go check on families and see how they are doing and if they need anything), pray and read scriptures every night, and LASTLY do a service for someone. We just started this and I have been looking for a family to help and then it hit me. I decided I was going to help one of the sad stories I had read about today. Instead of sulking in my own pain and misery I was going to help someone else get through theirs and even though I have never done something like this before I know that their family in heaven would appreciate even the slightest bit of compassion on the rest of the family that is left behind suffering without them. So here is the family I am reaching out to serve, you may have already heard about them in the news if you live in Texas. They have actually been on national news too.

The Stay Family:
Warning: this one is very graphic, to give you a quick sum up this family was murdered by an ex uncle looking for his divorced wife. He killed the entire family (well he thought he did). The oldest daughter who was only 15 survived. Although he shot her in the back of the head he actually just grazed the side of her skull (because she raised her hands out of self defense and it took off her finger instead). She pretended to be dead until the man left and then called the police to warn them that the man was on his way to kill her grandparents in the pursuit of his wife. She is the only survivor out of a family of 7. I can't tell this story without crying, it makes my one loss seem so small. Here is a link to the full story.

So there are several ways to help:
First, this is the official Facebook page they have set up for people who want to help. This is the best way to help because you can ask question and know exactly what the family is looking for.

Their friends have also set up a "Go-fund-me" account to raise money for the daughter Cassidy. This money is for helping pay her medical bills, the 6 funerals, and anything else this poor child could possibly want or need in this life. I can't even begin to imagine the life that is ahead of her but at least she we can see our support and know that she is loved and taken care of financially.
Here is where you can donate directly to the family:

My family and I are planning on doing a giant garage sale with our church, family, neighbors, friends, and whoever else wants to donate. All of the money will go directly to the family. I just decided this and am still in the works of getting things set up so I will have more information about that later.

I have been following them on Facebook and they have set up a fundraiser with some chick-Fe-la restaurants.  They said that it is not limited to Texas because this has been on national news and have some places that are even helping from California. At the bottom is a list of the ones that are working with them as of now. If you know a chick-fil-le that is not on this list that would be willing to participate call them and see if they will help with the fundraiser. You can also reach the family through the facebook link to give the restaurants their information. This is not limited to only Texas this is national news and therefore can be any location so even if you don't live here in Texas give your local chick-fa-le restaurant a shout out. We are working on one that is here by my house. They need all the money that they can get so please help if you can. If you're unable to help with any of these remember you can always donate directly to the family through the gofundme website.

(This is directly copied and pasted from their Facebook)
Chick fa Le fundraiser :
A Chick-fil-a fundraiser has been set up and will be on Tuesday, July 15 from 10:30 AM - 8 PM. The following locations have agreed to particpate and we have many more in the works:
Louetta Crossing—20608 I-45 Spring, TX
2920 & Kuykendahl—5905 FM 2920 Spring, TX
1960/I 45– 430 Cypress Creek Pkwy Houston, TX
Meyerland Plaza—5001 Beechnut St Houston, TX
Northwest Crossing—13240 NW Fwy Houston, TX
Clearlake Shores— 321 Marina Bay Dr C. L. S., TX
Beltway 8 & Wallisville—5910 East Sam Houston Pkwy N Houston,TX
Drive Thru Only
59 & West Airport– 12161 SW Fwy Stafford, TX
More locations to come!
For all sales that the Stephen and Katie Stay Family Memorial is MENTIONED, 20% will be donated to the trust that is set up for the family's funeral expenses and Cassidy's recovery expenses. Any sale helps, even if you just go buy a drink or an ice cream.
Please use the hashtag #chick-fil-a on social media, Like the participating locations restaurant sites, share the post or the flyer, even print them and distribute if you want!...JUST GET THE WORD OUT!!!
And last way to help if you live here in Texas!!! (this is also copied and pasted from their account):
If you do live here in Texas and are not far from Spring here is a fundraiser they are doing today at the children's school:
School fundraiser in Spring Texas:
Lemm Elementary (the children's school) will be gathering in remembrance of the Stay family on Saturday, July 12th at 10a.m. Crisis counselors will be on hand. Principal Brown has been involved and will be reading a statement from the family. They have asked people to tie brightly colored ribbons (Cassidy's favorite color is teal/turquoise) around your/their trees as a show of support. Bottled water will be on hand courtesy of HEB, Brother's Pizza, and Forest Oaks Swim Team. Balloon launch, songs, and a celebration of life will be part of the event. We have now been informed that media WILL be at the event/welcome, so please be sure to refer them to us for any official interviews. You are welcome to share your memories of course.  Thank you!

Also from Amy Schmidt: We'd like to set up the box to collect donations for the battered womens shelter that Katie was passionate about. This is a list of the items. All items that will go in the kit will need to fit together in a 1 gallon ziplock bag.
Hygiene Kit: Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, washcloths, small combs, small brushes.
Children's Activity Kit: Box of crayons, Pencils, coloring books, sticker books, activity books.
Additional Items: New twin size bed sheets. New twin size blankets, baby monitors new or used, laundry detergent powder.

If you have any questions feel free to leave me a comment and I will be happy to help. I am so grateful for all the support I have gotten since my daughters passing and I know that it helped me and is still helping me get through these hard times. I hope this young girl is able to feel the same comfort. I know McKenna is welcoming her family right now with a big hug and a big kiss, we will all be together one day. Thank the Lord that families can be together forever!

Saturday, July 5, 2014


"NOPE! Now is not the time for a meltdown Shannon! Keep it together! You can think about her when you get home. Take a deep breath, hold your head up, nod your head like your fine, control yourself, do not loose it in front of all these people."
This seems to be the number one conversation I have with myself lately.
I hate crying and I especially hate crying in front of people. It's not that I feel ashamed of crying and feel like I need to "be strong". It's the simple fact that once I start crying that means I am about to spiral down at a very rapid rate and I don't enjoy having that kind of break down in public. I have done it a handful of times already and it is miserable. It's that "ugly cry" that people joke about, the uncontrollable sobbing with the strange moaning that comes out of your mouth. Never in my life have I cried so hard, the sadness of it is different from any sorrow I have ever known. It's like you go to take a deep breath but the breath is never deep enough, there is a hollowness inside of your chest that no matter how hard you try to push it out it just consumes you heart and soul.
My schedule keeps me very busy, I am at school for most of the day and am constantly pushing McKenna out of my thoughts. I can think about her on a superficial level, I can mention something that she liked or would have enjoyed, I can share a story or two, I can quote little phrases she would say but once I go beyond this point I can't hold back the tears. If I begin to think about her little crooked grin and allow myself to hear her sweet voice behind that smile saying "I love you mommy" I will loose it. If I think about how soft her hair was, how big her eyes were, how loving her hugs were I will loose it. If I think about how much she would have loved the changes we made around the house, Dominic's adoption party, Zoe starting to walk in her walker, our new dog, her uncle moving in with us, I just spiral down and LOOSE IT. So I push her out, I let my mind have a quick vacation about her and then I distract myself immediately afterwards until I get home.
The closet and side of my bed on the floor have become my sanctuary, here is where the meltdowns are allowed to happen. The tears seem to flow from an endless water fountain, I don't understand how any human can possibly cry so much, how do the tears keep coming? This system has been working well for me up until last night at our 4th of July party. I think every holiday for a while is going to be an emotional roller coaster. I expected this for the most part but not for the 4th of July. This is not a big holiday for my family, sometimes we celebrate it but for the most part it's not an over the top holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving. This year we decided to do our own little firework show, we bought a ton of fireworks, drove out to the country where we own some property, and had an awesome day. I thought about her off and on the whole day. The last time we were up there was for my birthday. It was a surprise party from my husband. I loved it. I played with McKenna and the kids all day, we took them on 4 wheelers, pretended to go hunting, had a big bon fire and of course cooked some s'mores. I kept reflecting on that night and thinking the same thing that is always on my mind "McKenna would have loved this".
I was fine the whole night, a little sad but nothing more then the usual until we got in the car and began to drive home. The kids were asleep in the back and I sat there quietly thinking to myself. My husband grabbed my hand and said "What are you thinking about?" I just meant to say "McKenna" but instead a tremble came from my voice and a soft whisper filled with despair "I miss her so much" and then it became unstoppable. I tried to hold it back, I didn't want to have the meltdown in the car, but it was too late. The tears flowed and the sobbing began "I am TIRED of talking about her in the past tense! I am tired of saying "McKenna WOULD HAVE loved this", I don't want to imagine anymore what it WOULD BE like if she was here with us right now, I just want her here with us, I keep trying to accept her death but I CAN'T! I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!" My husband gripped my hand tightly as he let me cry it out. "You are the only one I can relate too right now but sometimes I feel so alone. Why don't you have break downs the way I do?" He was quite for a while which made me feel worse, he tried to tell me some comforting things but I was too far gone to even hear him. I could feel myself spiraling again, everything seemed miserable, everything was sad and depressing, everything hurt. Then the conversation in my head began again "Control yourself Shannon! You are not home yet, hold on just a little bit longer and then you can cry but NOT HERE, NOT NOW!" so I stayed quite and zoned out the rest of the drive home.
We got to the house and I quickly ran inside. I wanted to hurry and unpack so I could be alone in my sanctuary. I finished putting everything away and turned to sprint to my room when my husband grabbed my arm and pulled me in close. "I hurt just as bad as you do, we just show it differently. I think about her everyday and all the time. I just don't get comfort the way that you do. Holding her clothes, sleeping with her doll, and crying doesn't help me the way it helps you, it makes me worse. This doesn't mean that I don't understand why you do it or see you as handling it poorly. I want to hear about your pain, that is what helps me. I want to help you but I feel like everything I say makes everything worse and then I don't know what to do because you are so quite. I am so proud of you, don't feel alone, I am here for you and I always will be, you can cry in front of me. He hugged me tighter and whispered "I love you so much and I miss her too." My face buried in his shoulder I began to whimper, the bullet hole in my heart showed as I let it all out, he continued to hold me as I cried and shook all over. I would love to say that it stopped there and I felt all better but it didn't. It continued on as we laid down for bed, I held her doll closely as he continuously wiped my face full of tears and finally fell asleep in his arms.
Not every night is this bad but not every night ends with a happy ending either. I've learned from McKenna's death that being sad because of something that happened versus being sad when you loose someone are 2 different kinds of sad. It is a sadness that has made a home in your soul and there is nothing that you can really do to make it go away. Time helps and just from the little time we have had apart I have gotten a smidgen better but I don't think it could ever completely go away. I  mean how could it? I just can't imagine it ever going totally away because you have lost something that will never return. You can't buy it or replace it, they are gone and will remain that way until we see each other again in Heaven. "Being sad is not a bad thing" is one of the things my husband tried to tell me in the car last night just before I tuned him out completely and he is right. Just because I am sad doesn't mean that I have lost all hope. I am just sad, it is as simple and uncomplicated as that. I lost an angel, heaven took back what I thought was mine and that is a hard thing to accept. I love my daughter, I love all of my children and there is no way that I can just stop being sad right now. I need more time, I need more tears, I need more meltdowns.
I know that my daughter and I will be together again and that day will be so beautiful. I have pictured it many times but until then I am blessed to have her father, brother, and sister standing beside me holding me all the way through. I am grateful for the memories we were able to make together, I will always keep them close to my heart. For now pictures, videos, and this blog are all I have to show for her and for now it will due.
I love you Kenna Bear, Happy 4th of July, I hope you enjoyed the fireworks.
This trip to the "country"

Our last 2 trips to the country with McKenna

I love this last picture, it is framed in our house.