Friday, December 31, 2010

Leah's Angel Day

One year ago today Leah, Jeff and I sat together for the last time, this side of heaven.   
And one year ago today Leah became our little Angel Leah; carried home in the arms of Jesus.  

This is my song for her, a song written by another Mommy and Daddy who had to say goodbye to their little girl.  It is sung by that little girls Daddy, Todd Smith of the Christian band Selah.  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas without Leah

Well Christmas is approaching, and I'm so not into Christmas this year; I'm sure you know why.  But with that being said, I'd still like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.  

There are no lights outside our house, we don't have a tree, no stockings are hung, and the furthest I got doing any kind of Christmas decorating was stringing some garland up the banister.
The thought of hanging Leah's ornaments on the tree without her being here doesn't make sense.  Even going through all the bins in the garage full of the decorations seems like too much.  
The garland I put up?  That was a new purchase - no memories are attached to it.  That's the only way I can walk up and down the stairs without sighing to myself.  
Why did I buy it?  Because I thought I'd want to decorate for Christmas, just like I have every other year.  But in comparison to the rest of the non-decorated house, it looks silly.

I ordered a personalized doggie stocking for Sam - it's sitting in my office.  
I even bought 2 ornaments for Angel Leah in Germany - they're laying on top of Sam's stocking. 

We have no set plans for Christmas.  I'm leaning toward a plan of just sitting at home and pretending like it's any other day; that is, if on any other day TBS showed A Christmas Story for 24 hours straight.  Maybe we'll venture out to a movie theater, since for some reason they are open on Christmas day.  

I was thinking the other day about how quickly the past year has gone by - and how in a lot of ways things are back to 'normal'.  We live as if we never had a child because we have no living children.  No toys are strewn across the living room floor - no bottles sit in the sink - and the laundry never includes tiny socks, fuzzy blankets or drool soaked bibs.  I don't buy diapers, and my car is carseat-less.  Unless you went into Leah's old room and saw her unassembled crib and bins stacked up to the ceiling with toys, clothes and blankets - you'd never know that once upon a time not too long ago, a baby lived here.

In the living room we have her teddy bear urn, some of her favorite toys, and pictures; lots of pictures. 
In my office, which was Leah's downstairs room, my desk sits where her crib once did.  Sammie's pen is where the recliner used to be.  That was Nurse Ann's spot to sit overnight.  And sometimes I'd sit there and watch Leah sleep in the mornings.

One of the things I miss the most is the way Leah would smile at whoever fetched her from her crib in the mornings.  Still sleepy, hungry, and probably not too comfortable with stiff sore skin; she'd look up at us with the best smile.  It wasn't her smirk and it wasn't her regular happy smile.  It was 'You again! I know you, I'm happy to see you, and I love you'.  The last month or so she didn't smile at us like that in the morning, but her eyes still said the same thing.  

This past year has also taught me a lot about how other people react to our grief.  
I have blood relatives I've known my whole life who all but ignore me, because they don't know what to say to me.  Which is fine; I get it.  If the shoe were on the other foot I may not know what to say either.
And then I have relatives I've only recently re-connected with who have been awesome.  They don't avoid talking about Leah, they're not scared to talk to us, and they don't see any reason for there to be 'weirdness'.
Also, there are these wonderful perfect strangers I've never met, that I only know via this blog, or Facebook who email me just to say they're thinking about us, who have sent us cards, gifts, their own hard-earned money; just because of what Leah meant to them.  

These last 12 months haven't been easy, by any stretch of the imagination.  
2009 was a challenge with Leah.  
2010 was a challenge without her.  
2009 was full of heartbreak while watching Leah in pain; changing bandages and clearing her trach.  
2010 was full of heartbreak because of the simple fact that she was gone. 
It was full of firsts without Leah.  First birthdays without her.  First Easter, Thanksgiving, and now Christmas; which was the day last year that Leah's condition took a turn for the worse.  

But I said it the day after she passed and the same still stands true today, almost 1 full year later - I'd rather live with heartbreak without Leah than have her here in pain that I couldn't ease no matter what I did. 

2011 can't come quick enough - it has to be a better year.  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just checking in

Hi everyone!
I know I haven't posted for awhile - but that's because Jeff and I were in Germany from the 7th to the 13th.  Now we're back.  Back in the US - back to work - back to life.

It was nice to go on vacation.  It was nice to not have to go to work for 8 days.  It was nice to see and experience Germany - but it is GREAT to be home.
I'm a homebody; admittedly.  It's hard for me to just 'do nothing', ie 'go on vacation' - so I guess I really did have to travel across the Atlantic ocean so that I literally couldn't clean my house or do laundry or organize my office for a full week.

I put some photos from our trip up on Facebook, and I'll post some here on the blog as well at a later date.  But we're still trying to get back on our regular schedule.  Today was my first day back at work; waking up at 5 AM and such.

But overall here are a few things I learned about Germany and about travelling:
Munich at Christmastime is beautiful.  Cold, windy, snowy and beautiful.
Everyone in Germany smokes.  Everyone: man, woman, old, young.  Everyone, all the time.
Soft toilet paper is hard to find.  Our hotel was a first class, nice hotel.  The toilet paper was 2-ply, quilted, and about 1 step away from sand paper.
Gustav Klimt paintings in person are everything I thought they'd be.
What you think is apple juice there is not apple juice.  It's sparkling water with a small bit of apple flavoring added.
They don't have Diet Coke, they have Light Coke.
Apparently I am a security threat.  I was pulled aside and double searched in both Munich and Atlanta - and my luggage was inspected.
Coffee in Germany comes in small cups, and it's black and bitter.  I knew our trip back home was well overdue when I nearly had a full blown temper tantrum in the Munich airport by yelling that I wanted, "Coffee ... Regular American coffee.  Not espresso, not cappuccino.  Just - COFFEE!"
I require Dramamine to travel by airplane.
It has now been proven that it is possible for me to go 9+ hours without peeing - because airplane bathrooms are gross.

Also, I just wanted to let everyone know who is waiting on Seed Cards to please be patient and I will have some more made up and sent out just as soon as I can!
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