Happy 6th Birthday in Heaven Sweet Angel

I woke up this morning and it wasn’t just an ordinary day. Your sister has a cough, which always makes me anxious. She woke up coughing and I looked over at her in your old bed and told her to come cuddle with mommy. “Okay,” she said, then threw her stuffed baby shark, her choocho (soother), and rainbow blanket on the bed, then waited for me to gently pull her up. I hugged her tight and said: “Today is a special day. It’s Bella’s Birthday. Can you say Happy Birthday Bella!?” She whispered softly: “Happy Birthday Bella!” Then she pointed the painting of Bella on the wall. “Oh no. Mommy, what happened? What happened??”

Your baby sister has said a few strange things about you lately. She used to say that the pictures of you were her, but recently she started calling you “Poossa.” This is our nickname for Aria, but he strange thing is when she refers to herself, she calls herself Aria. When I ask her where Bella is, she will point to one of the 2 canvases of you on the wall, but will say Poossa, as if she’s correcting me. “There Poossa!” Of course, we have never referred to you as Poossa.

About a week ago, she started saying “Oh No!” when she points to your photos. Yesterday, when I picked her up from Daycare I asked if we would go home and see Daddy and she said “yes. See Maui?” I replied “yes, we will see Maui too.” Aria then looked at me and said “and Poossa? Go see Poossa?” I wasn’t sure what to make of this. I asked if she meant Bella and she excitedly said, “Okay!”

Aria has always been bright for her age. But I can’t wrap my head around how a 2.5 year old understands that you were a real person and something happened to you. More than that, I have no idea how to respond to her when she asks me what happened to you! How do you explain “death” to a 2 year old? I was honest and told her you are in Heaven, but of course she has no idea what that means.

You would have been 6 years old today, but you will remain 19 months old forever in my heart. As time passes, these difficult days get easier as my grief transforms. When a difficult day is approaching, something minor and completely unrelated to you will break me and I’ll cry so hard that I can’t breathe. This is my way of releasing my human emotions, which is inevitable, and makes these difficult days easier to get through. It’s also my way of letting go, as I no longer want sadness to dominate and leave me unable to cope through these milestones I am forced to get through without you.

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“…And then there was you!” – November 14, 2012

For every year that passes between your birth and the present moment, I let go a little bit more.

In letting go, I choose acceptance.

In letting go, I choose to keep putting one foot in front of the other with my head held high so I can see the beauty before me.

In letting go, I choose this life I was meant to live and decide to make the most of every day.

In letting go, I choose not to let your absence drown me in sorrow, but instead keep looking for your presence everywhere I look.

I’m sad and I miss you, but I am no longer grieving for you. Thank you for the blessings and the lessons. Thank you for always being at my side. And thank you for helping me let go.

Today, I ask for your guidance in how to respond to your baby sister. Someday she will be old enough to tell her all about you. Maybe she’s ready for that now, but what if I’m not!? I feel you in her. Maybe that’s why I don’t miss you as much as I once did. But Aria isn’t you and will never replace you, and you will always hold a special place in our family.

Happy 6th Birthday in Heaven my sweet Angel. I love you more than life!

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#StayStrong❤

We Made History This Week!!!

I was recently approached by the editor of the Canadian Medical Journal of Sonography who asked to include my story, The Ultrasound Miracle in the journal. This is the first time in the history of the journal that they included a story from a patient. So here it is, my miracle, on the cover of the journal! And here is my story, officially in print in a medical journal which will be read by sonographers all over the country! It was a pretty incredible feeling to see my sonogram photo (or as I see it, a photo of my two daughters) on the cover of a medical journal. It’s pretty amazing that my story will reach the medical community in this way. I hope my story touches many more people and opens them up to a new reality where love never dies.

Journal cover and article © 2018 Canadian Journal of Medical Sonography

Bella’s 5th Birthday in Heaven

It’s morning and I wake up to the sound of my alarm. I fight through sleep and open my eyes and my first thought is you. It’s your birthday today; you would be 5 years old. I close my eyes and imagine what it would be like if you were still here. I see myself jump out of bed and run into your bedroom excited to wake you up. I sing as I enter your room. “Happy Birthday to you…Happy Birthday to you… Happy Birthday sweet Bella…Happy Birthday to you.”

Tears fill my eyes and as I open them, the tears run down my check as reality slams me down and steals the wind from my lungs. I’m paralyzed and struggle to breathe. My mother’s words fill my ears: “This cant be happening!” Yes, it happened and this is real life.

I close my eyes again and return to my safe place where death isn’t real and You are fully alive. Your vibrancy fills my lungs with air as a smile sweeps across my face.

Your dirty-blond hair falls mid-back, is straight and full of body. Your eyes are the same, old and wise. Your face hasn’t changed much, just a few years older. You dance as I sing to you, twirling round and round. You giggle and grin and are so happy, so alive! You are so excited that it’s your birthday and thrive on the extra love I give you on this special day. I want to make sure you know just how special this day is to me, how very much you mean to me.

The alarm sounds again and you vanish as I cling to the memory of what I just witnessed. I’m instantly reminded that I won’t be singing to you again this year.

My chest is heavy and I refuse to get out of bed. Today is one of those days that I allow myself to not be okay.

I look at the photos of your birth and try to relive the moments captured. I desperately want to return to that day, to give birth to you once more. The pain of your 9 lbs 3.5oz body passing through me is nothing compared to this pain of having to live in a world without you. I would relive the day of your birth over and over again until the end of time just to have one more moment with you.

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I decided I needed to get out of bed tonight day because our puppy needed the go to the vet. A special friend showed up and spent the day with me; it was nice not to be alone. The day ended with cake, balloons, and a small gathering in our living room. Signs surrounded me today reminding me that she is never far away.

The best part of the day was hearing my family sing “Happy Birthday” Bella! Having only celebrated one birthday on earth, we have only sang it to her once before… until tonight. I’ve been reading about how other parents get through their child’s birthday after loss and was surprised at how many of them actually sign to their child in heaven. My friend brought a candle for Bella’s cake, so we sang. And it felt wonderful! I hope Bella was dancing in heaven today, with the angels, under the rainbows.

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#StayStrong❤️

 

From Flashbacks to Breakdown

I went on a trip last night, back in time to 3 years ago. It wasn’t something I was expecting and took me by surprise. The flashbacks were intense and flooded me with panic. Watching the band play, dancing and having fun, how could I be so carefree hours before my entire world was about to shatter? I was clueless as to what was about to come.

The panic was suffocating me. Tears streamed my face; I couldn’t see and my legs were seizing. I needed to get out of the building but couldn’t see or walk. Tom took me by the hand and led me to the exit where I was finally able to open my eyes and breathe. I regained my composure and went back inside but instead of enjoying the concert, I tried to focus on anything other than the flashbacks that wouldn’t stop. Is Aria ok? Is something bad going to happen again? I shouldn’t have come! I fought back tears until the last song was over.  

My best friend was was so excited when she found out her favourite band was coming to our hometown. I attended the homecoming concert the night before Bella died. It had been my first night out in months. Last night, I felt like I was living that night all over again with a different awareness, knowing something terrible would happen. 

The arena was set up the same way and many of the same people were there. I have been more focused on the date of Bella’s anniversary than the events leading up to her passing and didn’t give it much thought, but while driving to town last night I realized that it may be difficult to be at this concert. If it wasn’t for my friends’ excitement about seeing Walk Off The Earth, the band that helped her through her grief after losing Bella, I wouldn’t have stayed but felt this was something I needed to do… for both of us. 

After the last song, the lights came on and as soon as I spotted my friend, I ran up to her and said “I did it! I got through it!” She hugged me then held me as I fell apart. The tears wouldn’t stop; the pain felt fresh and raw. I wanted to scream and run away. Memories were flashing before me, worries flooding my mind. Panic, regret, and pain. It was as though no time separated Bella’s death from the present moment 3 years later.

This is grief. It returns when you least expect it. Sometimes it will make its appearance when you’re in public, but this is beyond anyones’ control. Last night, I decided to stay and try to take control of my grief, but I lost the battle. I had a breakdown in public. I re-experienced trauma and released my pain in front of people who know me and many more who do not. 

It took a lot of strength and courage to get through last night. After the concert, I met one of the nurses who tried to save Bella. We talked for a long time and I am so deeply grateful for the words we exchanged. I am so thankful for all the people who tried to save my baby girl. Meeting her made it all worthwhile!

Grief isn’t linear. It ebbs and flows like the ocean. It’s unpredictable and sometimes has a life of its own. I felt like a failure last night but as I’m processing it, I’m seeing it in a different light. I miss Bella so much. I can’t erase what happened. I can’t go back in time. I can’t change a damn thing about any of it! But I can experience every aspect of this loss and grow from it. All I can do is try my best to #StayStrong❤️

The Pain of Mother’s Day for a Bereaved Mom

Looking at her photo breaks me all over again. 3 years have passed since this moment was captured, yet time has stood still for us. That dress, that smile… she’s still that same sweet little girl 3 years later.

As I write this, tears stream down my face and I choke as tension fills my throat. This isn’t how looking at photos of your child is supposed to make you feel. Memories fill my mind and take me back to a time when my heart was whole, full of love and laughter.

Realization sets in. His photo has changed 3 times since hers was put in that frame. He’s growing up before my eyes; meanwhile, her memory remains unchanged. It hurts, I can’t breathe. Being a mom isn’t supposed to feel this way!

IMG_3262Looking back is bittersweet. Memories are all I have left of her and going back to a time before pain of this magnitude ever existed feels incredible… until the moment passes and reality knocks me off my feet. Days like Mother’s Day have a way of bringing these beautiful memories to the forefront, but these cherished memories are accompanied by the painful reminder that all we once had is gone. Life will never be the same again.

Mother’s Day is painful for bereaved parents. Today, there is no escaping the reminders that a piece of us is forever gone.

The best we can do is survive.

It’s easy for others to forget as time passes. For us, forgetting is impossible. So here I am, in survival mode once again. I place a band-aid over my broken heart and force myself to get through the day one moment at a time.

I do not celebrate today, I simply breathe.

Today I am holding space for all the grieving parents. Please take a moment to remember our children who are no longer with us. Speak their name and help us remember that they are not forgotten.

#StayStrong❤️

 

The Moments That Changed Everything

My journey through grief has been anything but ordinary. My blog begins documenting this incredible journey only 3 days after the sudden loss of my daughter Bella. There are many stories that I haven’t yet shared, but all of it will be included in my upcoming book Rainbows From Heaven. I have always believed that my story is powerful and needs to be shared. As I work on my own book, I will continue sharing stories on my blog and in a few very special collaborative book projects in hopes that my words reach the people who need to read them.

The latest book I’m a part of was released last week and is an international bestseller! If you enjoy true-life stories that uplift, inspire, and amaze, you’ll love this brand-new book: 365 Life Shifts: Pivotal Moments That Changed Everything. It contains 365 inspiring personal stories from over 250 beautiful souls all around the world, including me!

The stories within this book cover a wide range of topics – including finding the strength to go down a new path, to say yes or no to a relationship, to bravely live authentically, to receive from beyond, and everyday moments that were infused with extraordinary soulfulness that shifted the author’s life. All of the stories are intended to uplift, inspire, and remind you of just how magical and far reaching a life shift can truly be.

I have experienced many significant shifts since Bella passed and decided to write about a few of these moments in 365 Life Shifts. In my piece “Awakened by the Light,” I describe my near death experience and explain how it brought me closer to Bella. It was this experience that opened me up to the spirit world and has enabled Bella to continue to be very present in my life. In my second piece “Maui Healing,” I share about my life-changing trip and describe some of the most incredible healing moments that took place on this journey.

If you want to read these pieces – and 363 others – you’ll have to check out this wonderful book. It makes a great gift for friends, family, and anyone else who loves to be inspired and amazed…including yourself!

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To learn more about the book and purchase your copy, please click HERE. If you order now, you’ll receive lots of soulful bonus gifts – all created by the contributing authors – including guided meditations, ebooks, ecourses, and much more! To claim your free gifts, click HERE and enter your Amazon order number.

In addition to inspiring readers to connect with their own powerful shifts, this book will also help many animals since 5% of all profits from book sales will go to the Jane Goodall Institute! How awesome is that?

I’m so excited to share this book with you. So much love has gone into it, and I can’t wait for you to take all of that love into your heart!

Wedding Dreams Shattered by Grief

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In time, grief always resurfaces. Just as waves will always crash onto the shore, the pain of child loss always comes crashing into a bereaved parent. My ocean of grief has been more calm lately, but this does not diminish the difficulties I will continue to experience, especially during important moments of my life.

 

Prince Charming and I have finally begun planning our wedding. Ever since I was forced to say goodbye to Bella, I have minimized the importance of this day: my wedding day.

 

There are many sides to child-loss no one thinks about. One of the many difficult things I had to do in preparation to say a final goodbye to my baby was pick out a dress. We were planning a princess party to celebrate the life of my angel-princess. In my mind, the dress needed to be perfect and it didn’t matter how much it cost. My mantra helped me through the process, which I repeated again and again: “the day I say goodbye to my baby girl is the most important day of my life, even more important than my wedding day.” I found the perfect dress as I learned that people can have an enormous amount of compassion when dealing with a grief stricken mother.

 

My mantra that day was never forgotten and has lead me to hold back on my vision of my wedding day. As I looked in the mirror and stared at myself in the most beautiful white gown I have ever seen, I felt like a princess! Suddenly, grief lodged its way into my throat. “I can’t justify buying this dress; it’s too expensive and I have already purchased the most important dress I will ever wear.” I choked on my grief as I closed the door on my perfect dress that I had envisioned since my childhood.

 

I couldn’t stop the tears from pouring out of my soul. I felt robbed of the most important day of my life. The excitement I felt about our wedding quickly turned into deep sorrow.

 

After Bella’s transition, my view of weddings changed; I decided they weren’t important and was very uncomfortable attending weddings. I am now understanding that this is part of my grief. Weddings are important and my wedding day is no exception, but after losing a child, no day is viewed quite the same as it was pre-loss. The reality of this cut through my veins as grief drained from my pores.

 

Now that I’m planning my wedding, I feel my beliefs that held me up through the hardest days of my life are pulling me under the ocean and I’m drowning. I am now grieving the wedding day I had once imagined.

 

I close my eyes and see Prince Charming, my gorgeous groom. I see our family before us. I see our loving parents and my dear grandmother. I see our siblings and all of our nieces and nephews. I see our handsome sons and our beautiful daughter. But no I matter how hard I look, I can’t see my angel, Bella. She’s with us and we can both feel her, but my human eyes can’t see her. My heart aches as a single tear rolls down my cheek.

 

Child-loss changes everything! Sometimes we cope by making things out to be less important than they really are. Now that the planning has begun, I am finally able to admit how important this day is to me. I will only get married once and I vow to make it a day I will never forget.

 

I may have already found the most important dress I will ever wear for the most important goodbye, but I am now giving myself permission to find an equally important dress for the most important hello of my life.

 

As I kiss my new husband and am introduced as his Mrs., it won’t matter to him if I’m wearing a beautiful white gown or if I’m dressed in rags. What will matter is that we have each other until the end of time. He will think I am beautiful no matter what, but my grieving heart needs to FEEL beautiful. The dress isn’t for him; it’s for ME! And once I find that perfect dress, I will put all my love for Bella inside of it. I will fill it with joy so that on our wedding day when I can’t see Bella in the crowd, I can look down at my dress and be reminded that she is with us.

 

For grieving parents, the most important days of our life that should be filled with nothing but happiness are the most difficult to get through. It’s important to look for ways to make those days a little easier.

 

The search is on.

 

#StayStrong❤️