Friday, January 25, 2013

AVERYday: Heaven is for Real - Part 22

It's the phone.

The one I was so blessed was forgotten and left at home on Wednesday, October 24, 2012. Avery's phone. I am so grateful to have the 87 photos of our cat and the 20 pictures of landscapes and her friends and the singular photo of us together, smiling direct into the camera.

I watch her videos. There are only a few. In one she introduces the viewer to her brand new trombone. (She only had a few lessons.) In another she proudly shows off her volleyball uniform. (She was so excited to play!) In another she watches Brody play the piano, encouraging him to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star along the plucked out tune. (He had just turned three; it was totally unrecognizable.) In two of the videos she's singing Christian songs I have never heard before. The screen is black, as if covered by her hand, or turned face down on a table, as if to stress to the viewer that it was the words that were most important, not the face of the person singing it. And I hear her voice.

Sometimes a text message will come in on that phone. It's usually an automated message informing her (now me) that someone posted on her photos in Facebook. Sometimes it's spam telling her (now me) that we've won a $500 shopping spree from Walmart. And sometimes, it's Meredith (*not her real name).

I didn't recognize the name. But six or seven times over the last few months there have been short, simple texts; a photo of some younger child and a dog (neither of which I had ever seen before), a few words:  "cuties!" or "my favorite dog!" And then "Hi!" and the next afternoon, "how are you?"

I thought, at first, maybe it was a wrong number, except it couldn't be since Meredith's name had been programmed into Avery's phone. Then I thought maybe they were sent to Avery because the sender had opted to send the message to everyone in her contacts. The messages don't upset me, just leave me with this sense that I can only explain as 'unresolved' although I didn't know why.

And then, tonight, just before I grabbed my coat to head out, it hit me: Meredith is the girl from summer camp. Meredith: the shy, quiet girl who spent a week with Avery at gymnastics camp. Meredith lives several hours away up north, away from our local news, away from the people talking in the street. Meredith doesn't know.

This girl has been texting my daughter for months and getting no response. Granted, there have probably only been seven messages total since the accident... but what if this sweet girl is wondering why Avery isn't talking to her anymore? Wondering why her friend won't send her a simple text back?

It made me think of my own childhood friends and pen pals. Was one of my unanswered letters the result of death?

I can't wrap my head around the fact that Avery is just not here. It's, well, weird. I mean, she would go away to summer camp for a week at a time and I would miss her and think about her and wonder what she could possibly be doing at that same moment I was picking up a tub of cottage cheese off the grocery store shelf. Maybe she's swimming. I wonder if she's eating dinner. I bet they're walking back to their rooms now. It just that, well, sometimes I feel like she's just away at camp but then I can't think of what she might be actually doing.

Like, is there swimming in heaven? Avery loves to swim. I've heard people say that there is going to be singing in heaven and we will feel happy and full of love. Is that all? Just singing? What about swimming? So every time I miss Avery and wonder what she's doing it's always going to be singing and loving? I mean, sure, that's good stuff... but an eternity of it?

People have told me, "but you won't want for anything! You won't even know that you're missing out on swimming because you'll be in heaven!" But, still I think, surely God didn't create all this amazing stuff on earth just to have us forget about it? Wouldn't he want us to still enjoy his masterpieces in heaven? Wouldn't there be a way to sing and love and swim? Plus, the bible talks about rivers in heaven... wouldn't that be awesome to immerse ourselves in the cleanest, most purest waters of heaven?

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life,
bright as crystal,
flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
through the middle of the street of the city;
also, on either side of the river,
the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit,
yielding its fruit each month.
:Revelation 22:1-2

Sometimes I fear all my questioning and wondering boils down to the fact I don't have enough faith in God and what He says biblically regarding eternity. I've got to be honest - a bible is a hard thing for me to read. It's got a lot of characters and I can never keep the historical timeframe straight, and I can never remember if this group of people are the good guys or the bad guys... but, it's just that every single day I see amazing beautiful miracles on earth: a butterfly flitting around before choosing to land on the small hand of a child with full-of-surprise eyes; dew drops on thousands upon thousands of blades of emerald that kiss ankles cool as they're silently walked across; soft breezes that blow and birds that sing quiet -- God gave me all of this - why would he want me to simply forget it?

See, I don't think He would.

I think right now Avery could be singing, sure. Or doing cartwheels across the brightest lawn. Or laughing with friends. Or holding hands. Or asking a million questions of Uncle David just so she can hear his Australian slang. She could swim relaxed in the most perfect waters ever, hug tame lions, and read the most wonderful books ever written.

I think heaven is complicated in its colors and joys and wonders and we have all of eternity to discover new things and new activities and yes, new songs. I think since Avery loved kangaroos and ice cream she's surrounded by them both.

"In heaven I believe there is a place
where each of us will be able to choose and create a sanctuary.
I believe that certain things
will be somewhat similar to the earth
and many things completely different."
- Akiane Kramarik

A couple months before Avery died she started insisting I read a book called Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo. I had never read a book about heaven before; I was always a bit afraid that what was described would not be where I would want to spend eternity. Think of heaven as the ultimate vacation destination! I've heard where people choose to go on vacations and quite frankly, half those places I don't want to go to. What if I want to spend my ultimate vacation in the French countryside and I end up in Tokyo? I don't want to go to Tokyo.

Anyway. I shrugged Avery off. After the eighteenth time of her asking whether or not I read the book I told her she could read it herself and then tell me about it. She looked so sad. "You just need to read it, Mom." "Have you ever read it?" I asked. "No." "Then why do you think I should?"

After she died I went and got the book, of course. Remember when I was in the parking lot having my breakdown and I found the letter to Alphonsine? After that, I ran into that store like a mad woman praying the book was still on the shelf. I read it cover to cover and I thought, man, if heaven is like this then I am so in!

There are so many books out there from people who have claimed to have gone to heaven; but this was the only book Avery insisted I read. From what I know now, that was the book God asked me to read.

Remember the elderly man waiting for me after the funeral luncheon? The man who went to heaven?  After I read the book I fixated on that poor man. I was obsessed. I needed to talk to him. Ask him what he saw. What it was like. I needed details.

I finally saw him at an evening church service right before Christmas. He caught my eye as the service ended and winked. I had no trouble then hunting him down like a mad woman as he grabbed his coat and tried to exit.

"I need to know what was it like!" I blurted.

He smiled a slow smile; the kind of smile that starts from the heart as it remembers first true love. Tears gathered in his eyes. "Oh," he said slow and quiet in his thick, Dutch accent, "it is so perfectly beautiful!" He told me about the colors and the flowers and the peace... and I smiled. "I wish I could tell you more... but I was only there a short time." He looked down at the ground, paused, and looked back up. "I didn't want to leave."

And then....

"This happened a long time ago. Years later, there was a book that was writ - a book that say a little boy, he goes to heaven. I think, maybe I should read this book. I get the book, and I read. And I read the words and say, 'yes! Yes! YES!! This is it! This is what I see! This is what I see in heaven!' Maybe you read the book... it is called Heaven is for Real... and it IS for real!"

It was exactly what I needed to hear. Exactly.

Monday, January 21, 2013

AVERYday: Dancing in the In Between - Part 21

"Blame is a vicious card to play, and like guilt, generates useless emotions. But nonetheless, blame rears its head when there is no plausible reason to attribute to devastating loss. Blame robs you of objectivity and assigns fault where there is none. Anything, anything at all could have and would have changed that fateful day. The fingers were pointed everywhere, and none gave us the reasons we so needed to hear. When you lose your child, there is no reason good enough for their death." - Maria Malin, author of When You Just Can't Say Good-bye, Don't

As a grieving mother, I have purposely chosen how I would like to move forward in my healing. Understand, it is not the way you might grieve, or you, or you, or you. In fact, everyone grieves in such a personally, uniquely intimate way that I do not expect anyone to have ever before grieved the way I have, nor do I expect anyone to grieve this same way in the future.

I have chosen to see joy and light and goodness. I choose to fill up on faith and love and forgiveness. Blame has no place in my process. I do not wish to allow anger, rage, pessimism, guilt, shame, or any other negative thought to seep into my heart; to take root and spread like a disease throughout my soul.

I know that life guarantees but two things: a start and an end. What we don't know is how long the interval in between is. Some people get one hundred years in between their start and finish. Others just sixty-seven. Some thirty-eight. Still, some only get eleven. Some four. Some only weeks, some mere hours. And some, some are only remembered by the blood veins shared with their full-of-hope mamas. Their in between start and ending the cruelest of all.

I am sitting in my in between... and I know all too well that the final scene is never revealed until it is too late and it's just over. It is up to me to choose what I do in my in between. And you know what? You, reading this right now? Yeah, you're in your in between, too.

So, what do we do?

Crawl under the covers and hate? Blame the unfairness of life? Curse the meager food and the unmatched furniture and squint-glare at the Richard Cory's that walk about town, assuming we know how perfect their in between is and hating how our imperfect in between eats away at the bones that hold our hearts and souls in place? Waiting until bones become dust and hearts and souls lay broken along the streets we walk? Empty, angry people unaware that we've wasted our in betweens.

Or do we search for the goodness? Wake up and thank the good Lord for hot, steamy water and a bright, yellow towel. Watch just a moment longer the little boy splashing in puddles wearing hand-me-down rain boots. Spread butter on bread, drink cold milk from Grandma's mason jar, and know that this in between is pretty alright in the grand scheme of things.

This is my in between. I could fall to the floor, blame the unfairness of it all, thereby blocking out all the beautiful music that surrounds me, or I could dance.

And so, I choose, to learn to dance in the In Between.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Words For Those That Remain: by Tyler Knott Gregson

I've been struggling writing lately because, well, because I'm scared, is why. And I could really just use some prayers for my little family - for strength mostly. For patience. And for the ability to absolutely trust God in what's coming around the bend.

So, instead of writing, I've been reading... because sometimes the right words strung together can strengthen a heart. And this that I'm about to share -- this strengthens.


Words For Those That Remain

There will come a time, a day, a moment
when words are not enough. When the letters
hooking to other letters and tying themselves
to each other, the trains of vowels and
consonants chasing each other out of my mouth
just won’t do justice to the avalanche
that you’re struggling through. If
this is that day, if these are those moments
I will not speak, but I have no choice
but to leave you with these attempts,
as futile as they might be, for words
are all I have to offer and the only
currency I believe in:

This is not, and never will be, a goodbye.
You should not, and never can hold onto
the should haves or could haves or why
didn’t I’s. The time will come, I promise
you, for us all to stop wearing these
bodies atop these souls. The time of taking
one long, full and deep breath in through
these lungs only to exhale it out
through brand new lips. The last light
we will ever see through these perfect
and beautiful eyes will be the first light,
the exact same and blindingly beautiful
first light that filters through new irises
and shocks our tiny pupils before we blink.
What a gift every single day in between
has always been. What a hauntingly painful
and sublimely joyous gift to live, truly live
every single day in between these firsts and
yes, these lasts. Do not carry the weight
of all you did not say, the times you did not
make the time or the excuses you made, because
there is a secret you must know: Those that leave
us, never do. They see us how we never could
and how we were always so scared to. When
they go, bravely stepping into the first day
of their new lives, all they pack into
the bags they choose to carry, are the memories
that soothe their longing and and settle
their aching bones. It is we, always we
that carries the luggage of regret and
burdens of doubt, and why? Somewhere, right
this very instant, the first wobbly steps
in their search has begun again. Somewhere,
right this very second, they are beginning
their journey back into love. Somewhere,
the only person that truly makes sense to them,
the only person to ever exist and exist exactly
for them, is waiting.

You will hurt. You will cry and you will be scared.
You will miss and long and ache and look for
their fingerprints on the life you’re going to lead
without them. You will swear you heard, if only
for an instant, the sound of their laughter
or the timbre of their voice. This is ok, and more
than that, this is beautiful. Hold onto the
sadness you feel like a trophy. Hoist it high
above your head and shout to the photo that is not
being taken of you that you loved them, you will always
love them and you are proud of the tears that roll
down your face. They live inside the memories that
give shape to those tears and you must never apologize
for your sorrow, nor your joy when it too returns to your

These are the words for those that remain; for all
of us and all of you that are left scrambling
and shaking and weeping tears of compassion and
joy and confusion. These are words when words
are not enough. I say them because I must say them,
because words are all I have to offer besides my
shoulder and my hands and my belief that this
is not and never will be goodbye. Today is
and always has been such a perfect day
to say goodbye and to once again, say Hello.

-Tyler Knott Gregson-

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

AVERYday: The Ties that Bind - Part 20

"A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost."
~Marion C. Garretty

There is an interesting phenomenon that happens when one person dies; there are, simultaneously, a multitude of relational deaths. What I mean is, I lost a daughter. But at the same time Jadrian lost her only sister. And Brody lost a big sister. My mother lost a granddaughter, my sister a niece. A cousin was was lost, a friend, a classmate, a teammate, a neighbor, even lost was just a name once mentioned in passing one long ago evening.

How many times those first early weeks would I say over and over again, "thank God for my sister. I don't what I would have done without my sister. I couldn't have gotten through this without my sister." Grateful words spoken honest from my heart, but which were overheard by the shattered soul of the innocent child who had just lost her one and only sister. My words must have felt like daggers.

There is a special bond between sisters and Jadrian and Avery definitely shared a strong one. Jadrian was an only child until she was six. I worried, of course, how she would react to a new baby, but I needn't worry. She was like a little mommy to Avery. They shared a bedroom together until Avery was 6 and Jadrian was 12. And, although both girls were excited to finally have their own individual space, there were more "sleepovers" than not.

When Jadrian was struggling in school and the fallout of bullying, Avery was her biggest proponent, her strangest ally, her loudest cheering section. I don't know how Avery did it, but she could evoke giggles and silliness like it was nothing at all. She allowed Jadrian to forget, for just a few hours while they were together, the heartache waiting her in the halls of a school she dreaded, and just simply enjoy being a kid. Just another day being sisters together.

Jadrian would talk Avery into some adventure, or Avery would convince Jadrian. It didn't matter, really. They just liked being together. They also had big plans for more mature play dates when Jadrian would eventually go off to college. Dorm room sleepovers with late night make-up make-over sessions were planned regularly.

I question, sometimes, if even I feel the loss of Avery as deeply as Jadrian does. Because, while I love Avery with my heart and soul and miss her with every fiber of my being, I do not feel alone, without my sister. And alone is a terribly dark place to be.

Jadrian was older sister, teacher, protector. She was the safe place for Avery to turn. As sisters, they would team up together and organize protests against the unfair treatment they received when I ordered them to clean their room or vacuum the living room. Together they giggled behind my back about my out of style hat I insisted on wearing out in public and that fact that my baked chicken only ever tasted like packing peanuts.

They were a team.

The  very best one possible.

I can tell you that no one feels more responsibility, and guilt, and regret, and remorse about that fateful day than Jadrian, and I pray every single day that she can break past those lying emotions and find the ones that give her light again.

I want her to laugh while remembering the phenomenal Wii Just Dance Tournaments held in our living room while wearing what appears to be the tackiest pajamas ever. I want her to hold her ribs while snorting out a description of pillow case races (the pillow cases were worn over their heads, restricting their arms to their sides. Ever see the Milwaukee Brewer Sausages? That's what they looked like) even though no one understands why she's laughing so hard.

I want her to trust that Avery is now is such a sweet and special place; one Avery herself desired to be, and even if we cannot ever make sense of the timing, I want Jadrian to trust that God will make amazing things come of this on earth if she would just trust Him.

I want Jadrian to understand that Avery has her tucked so deep inside her heart that even in heaven, Avery knows who her beloved big sister is, and that she continues to love her and look up to her, with all of her eternal heart. I want her to understand what a good big sister she was... and can continue to be.

I want her to stop feeling guilty. Stop thinking she has to take some sort of blame. Stop going over every single nuance of that day. Stop feeling like she could have had the power to change anything in that terrible moment... because the truth is, she couldn't.

All she had the power to do was love like only a sister could....

... and she did that so very, very well, indeed.

AVERYday: Making Another Way - Part 19

There is a song that is so hauntingly beautiful it crushes my soul every time I hear it called Holy is The Lord by Andrew Peterson. It's about the biblical story of Abraham, who is told by God to take his only son, Isaac, and offer him as a sacrifice. Abraham, although distraught, obeys.

"I waited on The Lord
and in a waking dream he came
Riding on a wind across the sand
He spoke my name

Here I am, I whispered
And I waited in the dark
The answer was a sword
That came down hard upon my heart

Holy is the Lord
Holy is the Lord
And the Lord I will obey
Lord, help me I don't know the way

So take me to the mountain
I will follow where You lead
There I'll lay the body
Of the boy You gave to me

And even though You take him
Still I ever will obey
But Maker of this mountain, please
Make another way"

(Don't worry, in the end, God didn't make Abraham sacrifice Isaac.) Anyway, since I first heard that song years ago it has haunted me. As any mother would, the idea that God would tell me to sacrifice my child is absurd. If I thought I heard a voice telling me to do that I'd seek professional help ASAP.

But the lyrics to that song also made me think about obedience. I'll be honest, I don't have it. At least not absolute obedience to God. I wish I could sit hear and say, "anything God calls me to do, I'll do it gladly!" But the truth is, I struggle greatly with that. What if I can't do it? What if it is too much for my soul to bear? I"m more of a pick-and-choose obedience type of Christian.

Then, man oh man; then came October 24, 2012. A little after 6:15pm on a bright, sunny, unusually warm autumn day. Right after gymnastics, on their way home for youth group...

Lord, please make another way!

I guess that was it then: The Lord called Avery home and in doing so called me to do the most difficult thing I have ever faced: give up my precious, precious child. And it would be completely up to me to decide how I was going to go about doing that.

Somewhere along the line I surprised myself; I've actually been giving her gladly.

Do not mistake that word: gladly. If I had my way my life story definitely wouldn't include this chapter and Avery's would have hundreds more. Her death does not make me glad. But, it's like anything that happens in life: getting divorced, or fired, or having to sell the house; you have a choice in the way you set your heart as you journey through it.

I choose not to give her up in anger, or blame, or rage. Instead, I choose to give her in love and peace and forgiveness. I give her with a full heart of faith in God.

Because when I asked God to please, make another way, He showed me THIS way. A way not fueled in the darkness, but rather in the light. It wasn't the answer I wanted... I wanted Avery back. I wanted a miracle. But He showed me another way...

I give her up to The Lord, for that is truly where her heart was and where she wanted to be; where she wanted all of us to be, really.

And I give her to you. I give her voice and her story of her faith to you, to read, to think about, to share with others. Because by giving her up gladly, in love, I heal better. My family heals better. And I honor Avery in the absolutely best way I can, and she deserves that from me.

It's not easy. I still cry, sob; broken, ugly, snot-filled sobs - mostly in the shower, sometimes in the dark of the bedroom before Matt comes in, sometimes in my car on the way to work. But after all those broken down moments I feel the healing hand of God.

Have you ever wondered what the healing hand of God feels like?

It feels like reading a random text from a friend that says, "I was just thinking of you and want you to know I love you."

It feels like a dozen pictures of the same awesome sunset sent to you with messages attached that say, "Look! It's Avery saying hi!"

It feels like opening the mailbox and finding just the right book sent to you from a young lady that remembers you way back when she was in high school and you helped out with her basketball team.

It feels like a message sent from a complete stranger telling you about the one time she met your daughter, and how blessed she felt for meeting her.

It feels like someone dropping off a picture from 8 years ago because even though your daughter is only in the background, they knew you'd want every single memory of her captured on film.

It feels like someone saying, "you're in my prayers" and knowing that they really are praying for you.

It feels like every kind word sent, every encouraging quote shared, every hug held tight.

It feels like every single time any one of you say, "This may sound crazy, but I just felt this incredible urge to tell you....."

That's what the healing hand of God feels like.

And then I know... this way is going to be okay.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

AVERYday: Blessings and Vanilla Beans - Part 18

Make no mistake, I am a mother full of grieving. Sorrow seeps in between the joints of my bones and I breathe weeping. I am a mother without. I have lost two of my four children: one who was 11 years old and one who never got to be. My mind runs away with numbers: counting the number of people wearing red in order to disappear from the sudden crippling anguish that threatens to suffocate my soul; running calculations: 50% of my children are in heaven, 50% of my children are on earth; playing odds: the even children have died. Avery was #2, the unborn would have been #4, if we have another it will be #5, the odd numbered children are alive, the odds are in our favor.

And yet, this grief that has colored my soul isn't a permanent darkness. I am aware of this. I am not stuck. I could be, but I'm not. Not in this moment. I'm aware of what the mind can seduce you into believing, that it can be full of lies so comforting, like a fluffy down blanket that beckons you to close your eyes for just a second.... but I won't be tempted.

I am the proud mother of Jadrian: beautiful, witty, fiercely compassionate, full of dreams and wisdom that belie her 17 years. This girl whose heart breaks when she sees a person sitting alone at a restaurant, who would rescue every stray animal if allowed, who has such an amazing life ahead of her to live if she can just trust God and not fall prey to the lies the voices in her mind whisper to her.

I am the proud mother of Brody: sensitive and caring, gentle with his heart and his kisses. Perfectionist of the Squeezy Hug. The boy who picked up the baton where his sweet Avery left off: "Mom, guess what?" "What, buddy?" "I LOVE YOU!!" Keen to continue the game which brings so much pleasure to my heart. "Guess what, buddy?" "What?" "I LOVE YOU, TOO!!!"

And I am the proud mother of Avery: God Girl. Faith filled. Tender hearted. Compassionate. Loving. Forgiving. Full of grace. And hand chosen to live in Eternity by God the Father Almighty.

Perhaps you might be surprised to know that I sit here today thanking God for all the blessings He has given me... especially on the day of Avery's passing. I have been blessed a thousand times over. I thank God that Avery never suffered. Ever. See, I believe that she was called Home and to Heaven she would go; her passing could have been carried out in a thousand different ways, but God helped protect my heart in the plans He had for Avery. I think so often of all the parents of all the children that are fighting a debilitating disease. Those Mamas and Daddies need our prayers. They need our support. They need to know that there are people holding them up when they feel they can't take another step. So I thank God that He protected my heart as best as He did.

Someone - someone special, indeed, has been sending Jadrian anonymous cards filled with support and love - and that is definitely something to thank God for. Because that person's heart is being pulled to do something for Jadrian, and they don't ignore it. And Jadrian needs that.

Before Christmas, a representative from the Young Auditorium, offered Matt and I complimentary tickets to a show called Leahy Family Christmas. It was the first time I would have been back to the last city my daughter had been alive in. I didn't feel very Christmas spirity. I felt... marked. Like every person would take one look at my face and know. Know that I shouldn't be in public, but home, under covers, sobbing.

But I also knew I couldn't stay home, under covers, sobbing, forever. And I loved this theatre. Adored it. This was the theatre I took Avery to, special Mommy - Daughter dates. This was the stage she had clogged on with the Walworth County Cloggers. Her spirit was in that auditorium and I wasn't going to miss trying to feel it.

I sat, tears streaking down my cheeks, as I watched this amazing Leahy Family sing and play and clog... children the same age as my Avery dancing the same steps she had danced on the same stage she had once danced! It was heartbreaking and yet also so incredibly comforting.

And then I saw him. An old man a few rows in front of me to my right. He clapped the loudest, tapped his feet, threw his hands in the air: "Beautiful! Beautiful!" He turned to the man next to him, "Isn't this beautiful?!" A thought flashed before me: what if this was the last thing he would ever see on earth? I felt so blessed to watch his amazement.

And then I thought... what if this is MY last moment on earth? There are no guarantees for me, either. It's not like you have one really crappy thing happen to you and then you get free passes until you're old and grey. Would someone, right now this very second, rows behind me and to the left, glance over at me and say, "that is a woman who really tastes life! That is a woman whose cup overflows..."

I saw Avery's wide smile in every dance step. I heard her laughter amongst the energy of the fiddles. And I felt the love she had oozing from that elderly man throwing his hands up in excitement, exclaiming BEAUTIFUL!

I thank God for those tickets. I thank God for those seats that allowed me to see, once again, how good life is. Music, family, tradition... these are what tie us to this earth. These are what we taste. These are what bless us.

I am so blessed.

The other day a friend of mine was talking about Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Maybe, if I had to visually describe where I am right now, it would be that my life - my heart, my soul, my thoughts - are like Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Where, in each scoop you'd find those little black specs of bean... it would be impossible to separate them out and remove them; they're just part of what you're eating. My sorrow is like that... all over, in between, impossible to separate out - just an accepted part of my life. But that doesn't mean my life is ruined. I mean, have you ever tasted Vanilla Bean Ice Cream? It's delicious! (Ironic: if you knew me you'd know I don't like ice cream, but Vanilla Bean is actually my preferred flavor when I eat it. Perhaps it's time to pick up a tub.)

Make no mistake, I am a mother full of grieving, yet I am also a mother thankful for the many blessings - and memories - in my life.

The One in which I take my Father for his Covid Vaccine

I got a voicemail the other day from the hospital saying ‘since you’re the contact on record we just want you to know your Dad can get a Cov...