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Archive for November, 2014

IMG_7853 IMG_7880 IMG_7887 IMG_7922It’s the time of the year that a lot of people express how thankful and grateful they are for people, animals, places and things in their lives. I think it’s great. Really, I do. It’s a lovely gesture to express gratitude. I am not sure why every time I see a Facebook post about someone being thankful or grateful, I kind of throw-up in my mouth a little bit. The past 6 1/2 months since Ella’s passing I have experienced a lot of different emotions–deep heart-breaking grief, jealousy, relief, guilt, nausea, isolation, loneliness, depression and many more. As we move closer to the holidays and times of family and thanksgiving instead of giving into the vile taste in my mouth, I’ve decided to join the grateful bandwagon. Here is one thing I’m grateful for.

This summer, two months after Ella died, Dave and I took an epic two month trip across the county and to Hawaii. We called it our Ellabration. We celebrated Ella’s life and our love for her, a healing journey. We took three weeks to travel from Vermont to San Francisco, flew to Kauai, Hawaii for two weeks, then took three weeks to travel back to Vermont. I am grateful for the amazing trip, for the time that Dave and I spent together and for the new life we created along the way. (I am now 4 months pregnant.) However, one of the special things about the trip was the many wonderful, interesting people we encountered along our way. As we traveled we visited many of the fabulous national parks we are so lucky to have in our country. One of our favorite places was Crater Lake National Park in eastern Oregon. The lake is the result of a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago that blew the top off the mountain. The crater that was left has filled with rain and snow over thousands of years. The blue-green color of the water is unlike anything I have ever seen, even in Hawaii. It’s a magical place. When we visited the park we stayed two nights in a rented Airbnb room in a very comfortable home in Klamath Falls, OR about 45 minutes from the park. Our lovely host/homeowner was a single woman who made sure we had everything we needed to make our stay as pleasant as possible. She opened her kitchen to us, inviting us to have anything we wanted from the well stocked fridge. She was, as I said before, just lovely. We had a instant connection. Her home was filled with angels and photos of her with Jon Bon Jovi. Yep, you read that right—angels and photos of her with Jon Bon Jovi. Dave and I knew this was going to be an amazing story. The three of us stood in her kitchen and we asked “Where did you get all of these amazing photos?” Most of them she had taken herself at shows all over the country. She is a huge fan. She preceded to tell us that she had gone through some very hard times in her life. As a result, she had a near death experience. Bon Jovi’s music gave her the strength to rise above her difficult situation and survive. The angels were part of her near death experience, heaven is filled with them she explained. Dave and I were floored and extremely grateful to her for sharing her intimate experience. We, of course, told her all about Ella, her passing and the purpose of our trip. Then, Dave and I got settled in our room and went to dinner. When we returned that evening she had gone to bed. However, she left Bon Jovi’s latest cd on our bed to listen to on our drive to Crater Lake in the morning. We listened. We cried. We were moved. I have always liked Jon Bon Jovi. I thought he was pretty cute when I was a teenager, but I guess I never really listened much passed “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Wanted: Dead or Alive.” His music and lyrics are thoughtful, soulful, faithful, passionate and heartfelt. He spoke to the pain, grief and enormous love that we have for Ella. I am so thankful for a new appreciation of a very talented artist.

I am also grateful for the new cherished friend that Dave and I made on our Ellabration trip. A few days after we left her home, she sent me a very special, beautiful email. She described what she saw and experienced in heaven. She said God has a very special place for children. Ella is happy and very well taken care of. I have kept this email and have read it many, many times. #grateful.

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525111_10200227655236430_137490516_n Dave and I have gone back and forth experiencing grief. We take turns. I have to say seeing my husband breakdown has to be one of the hardest things for me. He is the most incredibly strong and caring person I have ever met. The care and sacrifices that he made in the 11 years Ella was alive are beyond belief. As Ella was dying he administered her final medications, sat up all night with her, comforted me and held her as she died. This weekend was hard for him, I have never seen him so sad. He just kept saying he missed his girl. Ella and Dave had a bond unlike anything I have ever seen. I feel lucky that I was witness to and included in such incredible love. Along this journey of loss, grief and healing it seems that when one of us is down the other is the rock. I was trying my hardest to be the rock this weekend. However, it’s very, very hard watch my sweet, wonderful, strong husband in pain. Perhaps, I think of him as superhuman.

A few months after Ella passed I was sitting with Dave and a few friends listening as Dave told the story of Ella’s last few days of life. As he got towards the end of the story, he started to recall when we carried Ella’s body out to the hearse. This was incredibly hard for both of us. I still wake up every night at 3 am thinking about it. I remember placing her wrapped body in the car, closing the door and watching the car drive away as I sank to my knees in tears. Dave picked me up and we held each other weeping. However, as I listened to Dave retell the story to our friends his version was very different. He said he wrapped her in the blanket and carried her out all by himself to the hearse as I watched from the porch. As he finished up I said, “Honey, I was next to you the whole time, I helped you carry her out and put her in the car. My sister and your Mom watched from the porch.” He was stunned, he sat quiet for a few moments finally saying, “That is not how I remember it, I think I left my body, it was far too painful.” We all have ways we deal with pain, I cry and sometimes scream openly. Dave is more reserved, quiet and very infrequently lets it out. Just when you think you have made progress and have healed a bit, wham, here come the holidays or a photo of her or you walk into her room. I try to end my blog posts with some sort of a resolution, but I haven’t been very successful with that lately. I am not sure if the loss of a dear child is ever something that is resolved. However, I am so very thankful that I have my husband with me in this difficult journey. He is amazing. I thank God everyday that he is my partner and that we were given the gift of Ella for 11 amazing years.

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Bahamas Thanksgiving 2012

Over the past few months I have been trying to live with Ella’s words as my mantra,”Choose Love, at every turn. No matter what, no exceptions.” However over the past few days Sam Shepard’s words are over-riding Ella’s “Life’s a bitch with no prenup.”  Halloween was very difficult. I miss Ella every second and Halloween is just the beginning of the holiday season that Ella and I loved to celebrate. On Sunday, instead of sorting candy (trying not to eat it) and putting away Halloween decorations with Ella, I was preparing to speak about Ella at a memorial service.  The service was for all those who died in hospice care this past year. It was a beautiful service, although very sad, calm and dark. All of the things that we made sure Ella’s memorial services were not back in May. Dave and I spoke. I spoke about Ella, her loving nature and the positive impact she’s had in the community. Dave read one of her poems. We did it.  It was very hard, we choked back tears, but we got through it. Everyone in attendance was very touched and thankful to learn about our amazing girl and her incredible short life. However, for me it was a reminder that she is gone forever. I felt very, very alone in my grief. Silly because I know in my heart I’m not. I’ve heard it many times from support groups and others who have lost loved ones, that hardest time is 6 months to a year after you loose someone. The world moves on, many of the calls stop and people go back their busy lives. I sometimes feel forgotten and worst of all Ella feels forgotten.

Yesterday before the memorial service I decided I wasn’t going to smile all day. Life’s a bitch with no prenup was going to be my manta. I see many people all of the time who never ever seem to smile so I figured why can’t I be one of them today. I have a lot to not smile about– loosing Ella and having a miscarriage three weeks after she died. I failed miserably. I like smiling, smiling is my favorite ( to quote my favorite xmas movie to watch with Ella). Frowning isn’t really in my nature and Ella being such a powerful being has been re-enforcing her wise words in my head. “Choose love, at every turn. No matter what, no exceptions.” I will be ok, I always am. I will treat myself with loving kindness and take a lot of naps. Also, I just called a travel agent about a trip to the Caribbean Islands over the holidays. “Choose love, at every turn. No matter what, no exceptions.”  “Choose love, at every turn. No matter what, no exceptions.”  “Choose love, at every turn. No matter what, no exceptions.”

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