This weekend we celebrate Samantha’s second birthday.  It’s hard to believe, some days, that it has been two years since she came into our world and we had to quickly say goodbye.  I have to admit, the second year has been a lot easier to process through than the first.  I am not saying it hasn’t been without it’s difficulties and moments of undeniable grief, but those moments have been just a little bit easier to take in and deal with.

I am not sure what we will in honor of Samantha’s birthday this year.  I know every body does it a little different.  Some throw a birthday party, some just let the day go by and they remember in silence, and others do something something small in memory.  Whatever you decide to do to celebrate your little one’s birthday is your choice.  Listen to your heart to tell you what to do.  It can be a big party or it can be something small and it simple.  Last year for her one year birthday we visited her and placed some beautiful, bright orange flowers by her.  We took a moment to reflect and remember.  I would guess that this year, we will do something simple again.  But for us, that works.  Happy 2nd Birthday Baby Girl!

 

Birthdays can be simple or they can be extravagant.  Birthdays are as different as the person who’s birthday it is.  Birthdays are a time to celebrate, time to reflect, and time to share.

Last week, January 27, we celebrated Samantha’s birthday.  We visited the cemetery where we placed flowers and reflected.  We chose to lay bright orange flowers, a burst of color.  It was a color we were drawn to and brought a sense of vibrance to an other kind of dreary day.  After placing the flowers I took some photos and then we spent a little time at the memorial wall.

This week, February 4, we celebrated my birthday.  I do have to say, this year’s birthday was much better than last year.  Last year’s was tough.  It was my second day back to work after being gone for nearly a week.  It was also one of the weirdest ones I have had.  For every birthdday card, I just opened a sympathy card.  Very, very weird and filled with a huge mix of emotions.

So, this year we went out for dinner and enjoyed good food, as well as good conversation.  We went to the St. Paul Winter Carnival, the torch light parade, and the end of carnival fireworks.  It’s not every year I can say I get fireworks on my birthday.  It was a lot of fun.

Here’s to birthdays…where we can celebrate, reflect, and share.  Not to mention…eat a ton of cake!

 

One year ago today Samantha joined our world.   Our beautiful baby girl with her angel wings.  She has taught me a lot about life in the past year and how precious it truly is.  No more making excuses.  I have filled this past year with all the things that mean the most to me…Raun, family, friends, photography, writing, travel.  I take moments and try to live them to the fullest.  I have experienced new opportunities that I would have never done before, that were typically out of my element or so I thought.  I have begun to simplify what I can, so that when unplanned opportunities arises I can jump to the occasion.

Do I wish that she was here with us instead?  Every day I do.  I wish that I could be the one to hold and raise her.  But, I know that she is in good hands instead.  If she can’t be in my hands, then I am at peace to know that she is in God’s.  Her tiny footprints left a spot on my heart for the rest of my life.  I love you baby girl, Happy Birthday!!

(I took this photo the weekend of Samantha’s due date.  I wrote the poem to add to this special photo in honor of her birthday.)

 

 

My grandfather turned 95 years old this year.  Our family and a small group of friends helped to celebrate his birthday with a small party, good food, and lots of stories. 

95 years!  Can you imagine all that has been done, seen, and changed in the last 95 years?  Through it all, my grandfather has remained strong in his beliefs and values.  He has a zest for life, never misses a beat, and always has a story to share.  After 95 years, he also has a lot of advice and wisdom to share.  Not to mention a joke or two.  He has done so much throughout his life and hasn’t been afraid to step out of the box to try something new.  He has been a lawyer, to a World War II gunfighter, to being in the House of Represntatives, to starting his own business that is still running today.

Over the years I have learned a lot from my grandfather and I always look forward to my talks with him.   I have great memories from when I was little when we would have family dinners from Arby’s at their house, we would get to have sleep overs where we would play games into the night, and so many more.

Some of the most important things that I have learned I still carry with me today and try to keep them with me where ever my path leads.  First and foremost family comes first.  Even though I live in Minnesota now, my grandfather still checks in on me.  A smile goes a long ways, even towards a total stranger.  Passing a long a smile can make someone’s day, not to mention show a little bit of who you are.  Be a part of your community. It gives you an opportunity to expand your horizons, while providing a sense of accomplishment and value.

I am nearly 30 now, I can’t begin to imagine what the next 65 years will bring in my life.  What I do know is that…as long as I can carry God, my family, my friends, and things that bring true happiness with me always while holding strong to my values I will be headed in the right direction.  I also need to learn from my mistakes and the curve balls that life throws (sometimes hurls) at me, while also being honest with myself and admitting when I can’t go at it alone. 
What words of adivce are keeping you going?  Share your memories and stories below.  I look forward to hearing your story.

 

This Summer we have been filled with lots of family time, travels back to our hometown of Waukesha, WI, and many celebrations.  To kick off our first trip back home we headed home to celebrate Raun’s sister’s wedding by going to a shower.  I had the opportunity to spend time with a wonderful group of people and had a lot of good conversation.  While we were home we celebrated Raun’s birthday and the birth of my niece, who now shares the same birthday as him.

The next trip home involved a much longer weekend stay.  A nice five day weekend to celebrate.  From the rehearsal, to the wedding, to tons of family we had a busy, whirlwind weekend.  It was a beautiful ceremony.  It was an interesting experience for Raun and I because the ceremony was at the same church we got married at and the reception was at the same place our was.  A little bit like reliving our wedding day, but yet very different (obviously).  So much time with family has been great.  We have seen so many family members; some for the first time, some it has been a while, and some that we get a chance to see on a regular basis.  It was a much needed weekend.

To end our Summer trips home we headed home to celebrate my grandfather’s birthday.  95 years!  But, more to come on that weekend later.  For now, I am thinking about the other happy times from the first part of the Summer. 

My Summer has been filled with weekend trips home, day trips around Saint Paul, and time with the ones I love the most.  How have you spent your Summer?

Leave a comment below sharing your fun times this Summer.

 

February 4- 

     In theory this should be a wonderful day.  It’s my birthday.  However under the circumstances, it’s not really on my radar.  It is my opening shift at work, so I fall into my “normal” morning routine.  I get into the door at work and back to my classroom.  All is okay until I turn the lights on and look up.  Then the tears start flowing.  While I was gone, Natalie had all my kids help create a large birthday banner (which mind you, is now folded and crammed in one of the keepsake boxes).

      As I stand there in silence, taking it all in, and opening my room, thankfully Sherry walked in.  She gave me a big hug and a card, and helped me open the rooms.  We didn’t say much, but that was okay.  A little while later Katie came in, gave me a big hug and said “happy birthday”.  She asked how I was doing and I said alright.  I know today is going to a little on the tough side. 

    The day went on “normal like”, with moments of sheer overwhelmingness.  But, I made it through.  Upon getting home I had a stack of cards to open.  This will be a day I will never forget.  Not everyone can that, for every birthday card they open on their birthday, they opened a sympathy card as well.   And so went the emotions like a giant teeter totter, up (joy, yeah!  Happy birthday), and then down (slamming hard into the ground… “I’, sorry for your loss).  While reading my email, I found out that my mom had been through a miscarriage.  I was a little frustrated at first that she didn’t say anything when they were up the weekend after it happened.  But later came to the realization that my mom was not only feeling my pain, she was feeling hers own as feelings arose and most likely didn’t know what to say or do.

    It had been such an unusual birthday I didn’t feel much like celebrating, but Raun said we should do something.  So we went out to eat at one of favorite places, The Cheeky Monkey.  With Raun’s gift I decided I was going to buy a memorial necklace, but he said he had a better place to look for one.  So I decided to peruse it later. 

   That night Raun’s mom Barb had driven up for the weekend and she stopped by.  We chatted and opened gifts until it was time to pick my dad, Steve, up from the airport.  He and my mom were down in St. Louise at a Wine Trade Show.  My dad wanted to fly up to be here for the memorial service on Saturday.  My mom was wishing she was able to be there, but someone had to man the booth.  So she sent her thoughts and prayers.  That night, we all stayed up chatting and eating birthday cake.  Then it was to bed and to brace for what tomorrow would bring.

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