Friday, December 28, 2012

I am broken, yet beautiful

It happened again.  Another PTSD freak out.

Last night I heard a loud crash and turned around to see Ryan screaming from underneath a tv.  It was one of those old tvs, you know - the heavy ones that aren't flat screen?  It was medium-sized, but more than heavy enough to really hurt, or I thought kill, a toddler.  Somehow it had fallen over (I think Ryan may have pulled it down off of the coffee table accidentally).  The tv completely covered Ryan's head, torso and part of his legs.  All I could see were parts of his arms & lower legs.  Screaming, he was screaming for me to help him.

Terror.  Another one of my son's is going to die.  I quickly lifted the tv off of him and was sure I would see a bloody mess of cute Ry underneath.  Screaming.  Screaming for Josh to come and help.  He did.  Ryan somehow wasn't visibly bloody but I was sure he had internal bleeding somewhere, that his brain had suffered serious damage.  Josh took Ry and this screamed out of my mouth.  "Is he going to die like Ethan?" 

Hyperventilating.  Sobbing.  Josh said Ry somehow looked to be fine.  I collapsed onto my knees, hood over my head and sobbed.  Josh told me to get myself together or leave the room, as I was alarming the kids.  He was right.  All I could manage to do was stop screaming.  The tears flowed incessantly   Breathing was anything but calm.  I knew that I should leave the room, but I couldn't.  Ryan is going to die and I will never forgive myself for missing the last moments of his life for a selfish reason.  Really, that is what I thought.

Slowly, very slowly I entertained the idea that Ry might live.  It took me until this morning to realize that he was going to be OK.  When I woke up to him on the monitor this morning I was relieved he didn't die from a concussion somehow.

I am broken.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I studied it in graduate school.  I treated it for years in residential programs.  Now I now it from the inside.  I don't walk around constantly worried that something bad is going to come out of nowhere and strike my family.  But when something bad did happen, I clearly expect the worst outcome.

So I am broken.  Yet I am beautiful.  God made me human.  He made me capable of being broken, yet capable of healing too.  I am at peace with being imperfect.  Course I hope the PTSD stuff subsides, as it is quite uncomfortable for me and those around me.  But for now, it is OK.  It is allowed.

We all are broken, in some way.  At times more so.  God doesn't expect us to be perfect, so why do we?  Embrace the imperfections.  Embrace the healing journey.  Embrace God's grace.

My good friend Kathy titled her blog about this.  Beautiful, Broken Me  Check it out, she's real, imperfect, a Christian, a mother, beautiful, and hilarious.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ethan's Year

2012 is Ethan's year.  The year I knew my son, from the inside and out.  There were a couple of weeks in 2011 where I was pregnant with Ethan too, but mostly it was all in 2012.

New Year's used to be a nice excuse for a party with friends and family, but truthfully I've never really cared a lot about the holiday.  Not one for resolutions or being sentimental about years closing out.  This New Year's is different.

2012 has been the hardest, most painful, I'll dare to say the worst year of my life so far.  I can hope forever, or at least for a long time.  Clearly with Ethan's death, grieving, the depression and ptsd that has followed, a difficult work scenario and stressful finances on top.  For those reasons I am ready to say goodbye to 2012.

Yet my heart longs to stay in 2012.  In the same calendar year I held my son.  In the same year all of the pictures we will ever have of Ethan are from.  I cannot look forward to 2013 with hopes of true family pictures to come.  Hopes of cuddling with him one more time.

2013 holds hope for ongoing healing for me and my family.  Yet it holds further distance from the brief moments I touched Ethan.  Most of you probably can't understand this part.  Yet my heart knows differently.  So this New Year's Eve will be another one of those bittersweet moments.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Ethan

We have a stocking for you, with an "E" on it - matching the rest of the family's.  There was no doubt that you would have one still.  But tonight, when Santa comes, he will not stop to fill it with traditional treats as he does for your siblings.  Instead, Caroline will tuck away a picture she has drawn for you.  We will place another beach stone that we have painted for your first Christmas inside your stocking.  And I will place a letter for you...

     This is your first Christmas my sweet boy.  I am keenly aware that you should be here with me, in my arms tomorrow.  I could not buy you gifts.  Cannot wrap them, only to watch you discard the gift inside for the far more fun wrapping paper, string and bow.  That eats away at my insides, brings the now familiar sadness and longing to my eyes.  I've healed a bit these past 7 months.  Tears can threaten to fall over my eyelids without actually doing so now.  Before they would just fall endlessly.  

    You have visited me often, and I thank you for that.  Through the butterflies, rainbows, and the love you have inspired among others.  

     Christmas is the time we celebrate Jesus' birthday.  Give him a hug for me tomorrow, will you?  I know he hears me, as you do, but you are with him in a different way.  I have begun to see people write and hear them talk about their babies' first Christmas.  That should have been us as well.  So don't be a stranger tomorrow please.  Be here when the kids run downstairs to see their presents.  Be here when we sing Silent Night by candlelight tonight at Church.  Be here when we pray and share what we are thankful for.  Know that I am thankful for you.  Be here when we open our stockings, as we will open yours and remember you.

     Merry Christmas Ethan.  You are loved endlessly,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Raw Nerve

I am a raw nerve this week.  I know my strength, and feel it come from my faith.  Yet this is one of those times when Jesus must be carrying me, because I can't hold myself up alone.

I'm pretty sure that I have PTSD.  After my responses to a few triggers this past week I can no longer deny it.  First was the massacre of those beautiful children & adults in Newtown.  Tears have flowed repeatedly for those children, their families and their community.  Then last night I heard that a friend was admitted to the same hospital & same floor I was on when pregnant with Ethan.  In my heart I believe that this good friend & her beautiful baby will be OK, will be healthy in the end.  I really believe that.  Yet my initial response to hearing that there were some concerns triggered my own anxiety.

I immediately tracked down a mutual friend until she reassured me that our friend & baby were OK.  So I calmed down.  Until I realized that they were in the same hospital, with the same staff, etc.  Somehow I had assumed they were elsewhere.  I am reassured that they are there as it they are getting the best of the best for care.  No doubt about that.  But as soon as I knew where they were I freaked out.  Not for them, but for me.  Somehow I was right back there.  In that room on my left side.  Back in that NICU, where my hope lived and Ethan lived...and where he died.   I started to relive it all.  Much of it was the blessings, the immense love and superior care we received from everyone there.  But much of it was the trauma.  I have found myself replaying experiences.  Found myself reminded that others, thank God, get their happy endings.  Get to leave that hospital with healthy babies after scares.  Found myself reminded that I will never get my happy ending with Ethan, at least not in this lifetime.

So last night I was having a bit of a panic attack & serious wave of grief.  I prayed hard.  Prayers for my friend, her baby & her husband.  Prayers for the care team watching over them, that God guides them to a healthy outcome.  Prayers that Ethan come to me in my time of need.  That Jesus carry me, wrap his arms around me.

This morning I awoke feeling a bit better, but still very much on edge.  A friend stopped by as she had something to give to me.  Steph and I met through a couple of different avenues.  Primarily, we share a mutual friend, Dot, who is now in Heaven.  Steph sat on my couch and started to talk.  A few times Steph had been driving and noticed a rainbow.  She took that as a sign to pray for me, which she generously did.  That night she would see on Facebook that I had been struggling that day, hence the signal for her to pray for me.  Steph had a few crafts supplies out the other day, as she makes her own cards.  She has a butterfly punch that she had used only a few times.  That day she left her home to pick up her son from school.  Along the drive they pulled over & witnessed a beautiful double rainbow.  When they returned home Steph found these beautiful butterfly cut-outs all over her table.

The remarkable thing is she had not cut most of them out herself, just a few.  The table was not how she had left it.  Nobody had been home during her brief trip to pick up her son.  She felt that our friend Dot had left them there for me, to know that Ethan is OK.

I know that Ethan is OK, better than OK.  I know that I will be OK eventually, I am on that road right now.  I'm just not there this week.  Not yet.

So thank you Steph.  Thank you Dot.  Thank you Ethan.  Thank you Jesus.  Thank you for carrying me today.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

We should all be like a 3-year-old

Jackson, my 3-year-old son, is the coolest person I know.  OK, so are my other 3 kids, but this post is about Jackson.

You know how triggered I've been this week.  With the Newtown massacre, Christmas approaching without my sweet boy, the 19th and 23rd of the month approaching, and significant stress about finances related to selling our home.  As soon as I catch my breath and start to think I am no longer coming off as the crazy woman, something hits & my anxiety comes up again.  As usual, people with good intentions, or at least harmless intentions, say things that have the opposite effect to some degree.  It's been one of those weeks I guess.

So this morning I was sitting on the floor at the back of Church while the choir performed a beautiful rendition of Silent Night.  Jackson and I were quietly playing with his Spider Man car.  "Sleep in heavenly peace."  Over and over.

     I'm looking down upon my sweet, beautiful boy with one eye open as he doesn't have the strength to open both eyes.  Doesn't have the strength because his life is slipping from him, as he rests in my arms, in the crook of my left elbow... Now he hasn't breathed in a while, I know he's gone and the doctor verifies it.  Sleep in heavenly peace Ethan.  Truly.

Then I'm thinking of those poor little kids in Connecticut, sleeping in heavenly peace.  Far too soon.  Tears stream down my face as I roll the car back and forth with Jackson.  He notices, comes to me and tells me "don't be sad mom, be happy!  Ethan is in Heaven.  He's right here in church!!  I'll wipe the drops mom."  Jackson was calling my tears "the drops" and proceeded to wipe them away with his gentle finger.  Then the biggest hug ever with a slight patting on my shoulder from his hand.

I'm pretty sure kids get it right.  Get it right when adults struggle to.  A friend commented to me today that it is amazing that a 3-year-old knows just what to do with grief when so many adults stumble.  We should all be like Jackson.  Straight up love.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Yesterday was unspeakable.  Those sweet babies, all 20 little children and those 6 brave, heroic adults all gone too soon.  The unspeakable acts.  I found yesterday quite triggering for me.  I know it has triggered most of us.  Those of us who are parents, grandparents, or just a compassionate human being were thrown into shock & grief yesterday.  For me, it was the same.  Perhaps the aftermath of the grief being more real to me than most.  

People have told me that I am living their worst nightmare, having a child die.  Truthfully, having Ethan die peacefully in my arms has never been my worst nightmare.  Having my children harmed, abused or killed has always been my worst nightmare.  Having the privilege of counseling abused children showed me what terrifying things really exist.  

Yesterday morning I dropped Caroline, my sweet pea, off at Kingergarten.  Watched her bounce into school with her purple leggings on and wearing her sparkly princess backpack.  Then I drove myself into Boston for an ultrasound.  And no, I am not pregnant.  I sat in the same waiting room I sat in while pregnant with all 4 children.  The room was filled with pregnant women, with their toddlers getting antsy and with their spouses beaming with excitement.  It was quite painful to be back there, without any baby this time.  I hadn't been back since I was pregnant with Ethan.  They were running far behind so I had to wait longer.  There was this lovely couple, newly pregnant with their first child clearly, drooling over their ultrasound pictures.  I wanted to run far away from them, from this office that belonged in my past.  My happy past where dead babies did not exist.  Not for me at least.  I was finally called into the room and the ultrasound tech and physician commented that they hadn't seen me since my amniocentisis in the spring.  Wondering why I had never returned for the routine third trimester scans.  "Because my baby died," I replied   They were gracious.  Understanding that I wanted to get in and out of the office quickly.  The doctor made a comment that she he must have died due to a chromosomal problem, and I corrected her.  She asked what happened then?  My answer was that there is no answer.  No one knew, no one could understand any of it.  No medical answers to be given.  On the ride home from my doctor's appointment I heard of the tragedy in Newtown, CT.

So last night I cried.  I cried as a mother of 4 children.  Cried as a mother of a sweet ponytailed 5-year-old kingergarten girl.  Cried as a mother who knows the depth of shock and pain that entails grieving a young child.  Cried as a resident of a sleepy New England town.  Cried as a person.  Cried as a Christian.  Yet my heart is thawed by the countless stories of heroics, bravery and love yesterday.  

Caroline came into the room this morning when I was watching the news.  I immediately turned it off & put on Mickey Mouse.  She knew something happened yesterday at a school because she was in the room when the news broke through.  (Don't be thinking we have family CNN time or anything please.)  This morning she walked up to me and asked what happened.  I told her a lot of teachers kept a lot of kids safe yesterday, just like Mrs. Doyle keeps her safe.  "But not all of the kids right?  Not all."  "No honey, they couldn't keep them all safe.  But you are safe, I promise you."  "Ethan has a lot of new friends in Heaven now."  "Yes, yes he does."

I cannot know what the terror is like for the parents of those twenty children, but I can offer my love, prayers and promise to remember their children always.  As I will remember those 7 innocent adults whose lives were lost as well.  I am so sorry that more families join me along this unwanted road.  All I can offer is to walk with them.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Walking the Walk

So you know I am a counselor.  A therapist.  A social worker.  A clinician.  Whatever you want to call it.  It's what I went to graduate school for, what I trained for, what I'm licensed for.  It's what I do.

In grad school professors and supervisors tell you it is healthy to have experience being the client yourself, at some point.  Sure...that made sense.  Professionally it's eye opening to be on the other side of the table, sitting in the other chair.  Professionally it is important to be sure you are addressing your own shit so it doesn't interfere or find it's way into your work with your clients.  Personally it makes sense, who couldn't use a little "me time," a little "tuning up?"  Surely I would benefit from some fine tuning on my coping skills, or a small dose of an SSRI, right?  I've always been a worrier after all.

I write this with a slight smile breaking out.  Remembering exactly what it felt like to have therapy be an option.  For it to be a nice thought.  To be a one of the things that inevitably slides down that to-do list you have running in your head.

Driving the hour ride home from Brigham, the night Ethan died, I knew it was finally time for me to go to therapy.  No more pushing it to the side.  It was no longer an option.  It would no longer be a little joke close friends or family would say to me.  "You're crazy, you need a therapist."  (by the way, this is not me saying people have to be crazy to see a therapist, by now you should know me better)

Your baby dies, unexpectedly.  You get a therapist.

The excuses to avoid therapy don't really work any more, right?  Having your life, and your family's, flipped upside down & torn apart in a 2-week period, never to be fully repaired again demands some attention.  Ethan died Wednesday night.  Friday morning I spoke with Cheryl, the woman who agreed to be my therapist, on the phone and scheduled my first session for Tuesday night.

Tuesday night came & I was nervous.  Not nervous to talk about Ethan, I craved talking about him & sharing our story.  Nervous to actually be sitting in the lobby, to be the client.  My friend Robin had to drive me since I still wasn't allowed to drive due to the c-section.  (Best part is Robin's car battery died while waiting for me that night so we had to wait in the parking lot for AAA to come.  Of course I was the last client of the night & my therapist walked out to find me in the car, probably thinking I was stalking her or something - it's all good though, it was funny.)

Sitting in the room was smooth for me, I am an open book anyway.  Have always found it healing to share my story, whatever chapter I am living.  For years I have been encouraging clients to embrace the work that is before them, painful as it may be.  I tend to think that the healthiest outcome (usually) is through rather than around something.  For me, the something being the death of Ethan.

So, I sat there that first night and asked Cheryl to be sure I was walking the walk.  To work my grief, through every terrible day, hour, breath.  I asked her to journey with me.  She has done so and more.  She has held my pain, pain that cannot be appreciated from reading this.  Pain that is visceral, endless.  Cheryl understands this pain better than anyone in my life, with the exception of those few who have had a baby die too.  So I thank Cheryl genuinely.  Thank her for helping me heal.  I'm moving in just over a month and will be two hours away from Cheryl.  I'm supposed to find another therapist, to have available if I need it.  I haven't done that yet, because I don't want to.  We'll see how that plays out.

(In true journal form I am wrapping this post up early because I am getting tired.  Sorry that this one doesn't have an eloquent closing.)

Therapy has worked for me thus far.  Probably has helped my marriage, my relationships with my children, family and friends.  I've journaled, meditated, prayed, exercised, talked, cried, yelled, read.  I'm walking the walk, or at least trying to.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ethan will travel

We are moving.  A previous post discussed how difficult it is to say goodbye to our current Church family, community, home.  This post is to reflect upon my emotional journey that has accompanied Josh's interview process.

About halfway through the extensive interview process the Search Committee invited me to join Josh one afternoon.  He was having a second interview with the group after which they wanted to show me the town & Church-owned parsonage.  We had a nice meal together and I excused myself for about an hour-and-a-half so they could have their interview.

I walked around the Church, familiarizing myself with the sanctuary, nursery, etc.  Sat in the nursery for a while emailing people on my phone.  In my gut I knew we were going to move to this town, switch our communities.  I just believed that he was going to get the job.  Then the nerves set in.  Not the kind that happen to most people.  The kind reserved for parents of a dead babies.

These new people don't know Ethan.  Don't know of Ethan.  When they see my family they will see 3 children, not 4.  They don't know how deep my grief goes, how expansive it is.  They haven't witnessed my Tides of Grief.  Haven't seen me shake with tears yet.  Surely they will as his birthday approaches and the anniversary of his death approaches.  Oh, and as Josh's birthday & mother's day approaches.  All 4 of which occur within the same 2 week period in May.  Yet.  Will they run away from my pain as it is so unpleasant?  Will they be strong enough to hold my pain?  As my current Church family has.

I will have to tell countless people, over and over again, of Ethan.  The up side is I will get more chances to talk about my beautiful son, his life, God's miracle.  The hard part, the nervous part being seeing all of their faces go from smiles to horror again.  Pretty much going back to the first 2 months after Ethan's death here...not for my depression but for the frequency with which I shock people by talking about my dead son.  Even while I write this I wonder if those who read it recoil a bit with the phrase "dead son."  I don't want people to, yet I know it tends to have that effect.  And that effect multiplies when the phrase is heard in person, rather than read in a journal.

So I was sitting at one of those rectangular, white tables.  You know, the kind most church fellowship halls have around.  I became tired emotionally, put my head down on the table.  Prayed to God.  Asked him if Ethan will come with me, here to this new place?  If this was the right place for our family to move?  Will I feel even further away from Ethan if we move here?  His ashes were spread off of the coast of NH after all.  Those who "knew" Ethan when he was alive will be a state away.  I prayed hard, prayed honestly.

Raised my head & looked up at the bulletin for the search process.  The bulletin that updates the congregation as to where the search committee is in the process of finding a new minister.  I walked over to it.  And found it decorated in beautiful butterflies.  Not simple little stickers or drawings.  Intricate butterflies were all over the bulletin.  God answered my prayers.  He told me that Ethan would come with me here.  That he was already there, guiding us to this new Church and town.

In true Annie fashion I cried a bit.  Of course my timing sucked & someone from the search committee walked in to find me crying.  So as not to appear like a full on lunatic (crazy minister's wives do not win their spouse's jobs) I tried to hide the tears.  I failed.  This kind woman approached me, I told her that the significance of butterflies to me.  She placed a gentle hand on my shoulder and offered that perhaps, this was a sign that this was the right match.

From that moment on I knew this is where God is guiding us.  Guiding me.  And I know that Ethan will travel.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

'Tis the Season

The nicest thing happened today.  A simple gesture really, yet one I will remember forever.

Jackson, Ryan & I went to breakfast at our favorite spot.  On the ride there Jack said Ethan was with us in the car.  (Love this.  And yes, I believe him)  As I put our coats on the waiter took my bill to the register.  I thought to start ringing me up so we could make a quick escape.  We are regulars there.  Instead, the waiter told me to have a good day.  "But I haven't paid yet Isaiah."  Apparently another patron, this lovely man named Larry, had paid for our breakfast.

I looked to him and genuinely said thank you.  I was shocked.  He said he had observed me parenting the boys and was impressed with our family.  Saying that he is a parent, though his two children are gown now.  Remembering the days that I am currently in.  The Blessed Chaos.

Went on to say that I am a wonderful mom.  That the boys are lucky to have me.  Saying that there must be a special place in Heaven for people like me.  At this point I started to get choked up.  You see, I wonder if my depression has tarnished the mom in me.  I am sure it has at moments.  So when this lovely gentleman told me that I am doing a good job it hit home.  Cue the tears - just a couple, but still...unexpected.

Compelled I told him that he has no idea how his kind words are appreciated.  Briefly shared what I wrote above, and what has caused the depression.  This loving man was moved by what I shared...and here we were at the counter of The Big Bean making quite an impression on one another.  With Isaiah watching.

"I'm Annie." --  "I'm Larry." -- "Merry Christmas Larry.  God Bless."

Jackson said thank you to Larry for his meal.  And we went on with our morning.  I'll never forget Larry.

'Tis the Season.  No need to pay for someone's meal necessarily.  Just share the kind thoughts in your head.  They make a difference.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thank You

We're moving.  Josh has accepted the minister's position at a different church, in a different state.  We're moving back "home."  Home defined as Massachusetts, close to Boston, close to the beach, closer to family & friends.

As I pack my home, I am realizing that this sleepy little town of the NH seacoast has become my home as well.  We moved here when I was just 27 years old, when I was young.  When I felt and looked young.  These past 4 1/2 years I have grown up.  These past 6 months I have aged exponentially - I have aged 50 years in six months inside.  Really.

My church has welcomed me, Josh and Caroline from day 1.  Caroline was just 10 months old when we moved here, she wasn't even walking or talking.

My church has witnessed my family grow.  I was pregnant with Jackson, Ryan and Ethan here.  They threw me a baby shower when expecting Jackson - such love.  

When pregnant with Ethan, early on, I was placed on full bed rest (except for bathroom privileges) at home.  This happened on and off for weeks.  I wasn't allowed to carry Ryan - 6 months old at the time.  Wasn't allowed to sit up to feed him his bottle.  Certainly wasn't allowed to chase after my 2 and 4-year-olds, take care of the house or make their meals during those times.  My church family stepped in and took care of me & my family.  This happened even more when the shit hit the fan and I was hospitalized in Boston.  The church was gracious with Josh about when and where he did his work, working from home at times or writing a sermon when visiting with me in the hospital.  

They prayed for me.  For Ethan to live.  They grieve Ethan with me, as they expected their family to grow as well with his birth.  They have not shied away from my grief.

And now, I am preparing to leave this community, this family.  Yes, I am heading for home in January.  But I am leaving one of my homes behind - surely.  So this move is exciting, is God's path for Josh and our family.  For me.  Though it comes with sadness too.  I am learning that is part of life.

The minister's wife, the friend, the church member, the Christian, looking to find a way to say goodbye to my church, my family, my home.  The only way I know how to is to say THANK YOU.

Thank you Shirley for sitting in front of me each week in Church.  For cleaning up the crumbs my kids leave behind on the floor, under the pews.

Thank you Jeff for getting to know me, allowing me to get to know you, during those weekly small group meetings at Dori's home.

Thank you to the 3 ladies who have demonstrated that it is possible to LIVE after the death of a child.

Thank you Meagan for always telling me you love me.

Thank you Abby & Emily for being our friends & babysitters.  For saving my sanity by giving me time to remember that I am an individual, apart from my children.  For the countless times you took care of my children, vacuumed the floor, cleaned the home and more, when I was a state away in the hospital.  For helping to fill my responsibilities as mom when I couldn't be there myself.  And for kindly refusing to be paid for all of that.

Thank you Mary and Jacque for "getting" my rambunctious children.  For loving them because of it, instead of despite it.  For teaching my children during Sunday School...thank you Kathy as well.

Thank you Lyndal for being Caroline's first friend here in NH, and one of her closest.

Thank you Kate for being a true friend to me.  For always being real with me.  For talking with me about Ethan, and wanting to.  For watching my children so Josh could rush to Boston when I was in labor with Ethan.

Thank you Darlene for taking Caroline for multiple play dates.

Thank you Rich for demonstrating what it is to be a Christian.  Always willing and eager to help when a need is present.

Thank you Elzina for being the kindest woman I have ever met.  For loving my children.  For loving me.

Thank you Dwayne for being the kindest man I have ever met.  For your soft-spoken words.  For your genuine way.

Thank you Derek, Heather, Diane and your entire family for embracing our family as we are.  Full of energetic young children.  For laughing at our antics & chiming in with your own.

Thank you Skip for so many things.  For being our neighbor (and a shout out to Shirley here as well), our friend, our handyman too!  I love you & your family.

Thank you Pam for helping out whenever we are in a bind.  Whether it be watching our kids or letting our dog out.  For your friendship.

Thank you Marline & John for naming a star after Ethan.

Thank you Sue and Gary for opening your home to us, for meals, for company, for choir parties (even though we can't carry a tune), for swimming in your pool.  Thank you for your friendship.

Thank you Colin for being my dose of sarcasm!  I desperately needed that when we moved, and immediately felt at home with you.  Thank you for helping me walk the kids to the car after coffee hour when they all ran in different directions.

Thank you Pat for loving my family.  For loving our real children.

Thank you Robin & Ron for being my friend.  On every level.  There are not enough words here.  I will always treasure our friendship.

Thank you Tom for loving us.  For showing me your heart.

Thank you Deb for telling me I inspired you.  Thank you for inspiring me as well.

Thank you Carole & Dan for making me laugh.  For feeding Ryan & carrying him around at 6 months old when I wasn't able to.  For our friendship, though recent, it feels so strong.  For showing me a loving marriage that is very similar to mine.

Thank you Pam & Mark...again words fail here.  For loving us, as your family.  For burying Ethan with us, for somehow making that terribly sad act beautiful.  

Thank you all for making sure my children did not run out the doors of the Church. 

Thank you for being the village that raises our children.

Thank you for remembering Ethan.

Thank you for showing me what God's love is.