Friday, May 20, 2011


Also, I just discovered with my new MacJournal update, I can post directly from my journal to my blog, cutting out the copying and pasting. Win.

A Disconnect

It’s been a long while since I’ve blogged, even longer than usual for me. I can’t really describe my reasons for holding back... the only phrase I can come up with is “a disconnect”. I get in these moods, which, while not what I would really call a depression, are enough to bring me low and cause intense apathy. I just haven’t had the emotional energy to write. Even while I’m typing this, I’ve almost deleted it three times. In the first paragraph. Mostly because if I start writing something, I have to finish it. Don’t feel like it. But I’ll push through.

So anyway. I’m listening to AccuRadio’s “Hey Hey, We’re the Sixties” playlist. One complaint (well not one- one of MANY) I have about the area I live in, is we don’t have any decent Oldies stations. We used to have a great one, which got replaced by R & B. Recently I found out that one station has switched to “The greatest hits from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s” which is... acceptable, but not good enough. I want some Beatles and Monkees and Turtles (Ha- The Turtles just came on) and Herman’s Hermits and Dylan and America and The Temptations... don’t muddy the waters with Styx and Van Morrison. Just give me some good OLD Oldies, folks. I mean, aren’t there enough old people in our area to constitute at least one station? Lucky for me, I don’t live in the era whose music I love so much, so I can use the internet to listen to it.

This weekend starts our official beginning of summer. Today was Ashton’s last day of school. I’ve been counting down to this for 2 months. I used to hate the summer months- I can’t stand the heat. But since Ashton has started school I appreciate summer more. There’s something about the late nights, the sticky heat and fireflies that is so much better when you know it’s only temporary. I’m embracing this summer with open arms, even though I know it will be gone before I know it. The next few weeks will be spent in a flurry of preparation for our family vacation to Disney World in a few weeks. I won’t lie- I love Disney World with a squee-worthy love. The first time I went (at the age of 23), and saw Cinderella’s castle through the monorail window, I teared up. It’s true. I’m not an overt Mickey fan- meaning I don’t wear Disney paraphernalia or decorate my house in it. But there really is something so magical about Disney World. They make everything special.

This is all I can manage for tonight. Boring drivel, but a start. If you have faith in me, stay tuned- I’m sure I’ll rejoin the world soon enough.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

In Memory, In Hope

My friend Missy and I had the extreme honor today of representing our precious Caris’ family for her, at a memorial service held at University of Virginia Children’s Hospital. The service is held annually, honoring and remembering children who have passed away while being treated at the hospital. Originally, a large group of us had planned to go, but as the time came closer, Caris’ parents felt that it was too soon for them to return to the place that represented such grief to them. Although we understood completely, Missy and I couldn’t bear the thought of no family or friends being there to represent their little girl- and so we offered to attend the service on their behalf.

UVa is about a 3 hour drive from our city. Let me just say, Missy and I are the queens of road trip entertainment. It is one of our favorite pastimes, whatever the reason for the trip is. We had a great drive, stopping at Mellow Mushroom in Charlottesville for lunch. I’m saying all of this to bring myself to this point: I put off thinking about the reason for this trip. Consequently, I was completely sideswiped by the grief that struck me when we pulled into the UVa parking lot.

The set up when we walked in was tranquil, soothing. People speaking in hushed, gentle voices, making eye contact and smiling softly. There was a guestbook we signed, baskets full of travel tissues, and print outs of poems and encouraging thoughts. When we walked into the hall, we were handed programs and carnations, to place on the Tree of Life. At this point my eyes were already welling up, my heart hurting. We took our seats and opened the programs. Inside was an order of service, and a folded piece of paper, covered front and back.

Covered with names.

The only thought in my stunned brain was, “There are too many names here. Too many.” And although only one name was significant to me, one Caris AnnaBelle Tate, I knew every name on that page represented an entire ocean of life, grief, hope, prayers, and tears. Every name spoke of a life too short, a family forever changed. I wept openly for those names- over 200 of them.

The service was beautiful, comforting. It didn’t belittle anyone’s grief- it honored and revered it. It spoke tenderly of anguish, with an underlying tone of hope. One mother spoke of her son, who passed away after more than two years fighting leukemia, right before his 8th birthday. With his passing more than 5 years behind them, she spoke with hope in her voice, confidence in that hope. She said, “Your pain will change. It will get... I won’t say easier, but it will be different.”

When Caris AnnaBelle’s name was called, Missy and I walked to the front and placed our flowers in the tree. We were blessed and humbled to be there. We spoke a litany at the end, one that speaks of grief and hope better than I ever could:

Leader: The flowers before us remind us of particular children, your children, who have touched us all with life, with joy, and with deeply felt sorrow.
People: We celebrate the gifts they gave us and acknowledge the anguish their deaths have caused.

Leader: In the aching of our hearts, we are reminded of our loss and also of the love we shared and continue to give.
People: We lift up all that is within us--joy and sorrow, favored memories and dashed hopes, loneliness and heart-felt connection, and so much more.

Leader: We are challenged to go on caring, made more aware by our own distress. Our ears hear cries and our eyes see needs as we continue to reach out with our love.
People: As we seek solace, may we also give solace; as we seek comfort, may we also comfort.

Leader: This is the faithful journey of loving and being loved, free to grieve and free to serve.
People: May strength of spirit and gentle trust fill our lives and bring us peace.

ALL: Amen.

So tonight, I am praying, in memory, and in hope. In memory of Caris, and of every child named on that too-long list. In hope that their families will be comforted and given peace beyond their own understanding; and that one day their pain, while perhaps not getting easier, will soften, change, and give birth to hope itself.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Marching for Babies


 This was kind of an emotional day. As you’ve probably seen from the button on the side of my blog, I’ve been raising money for this year’s March of Dimes walk. The walk was today. This morning I woke up crying. Not sobbing- not gut wrenching pain. Just tears spilling over slowly, a silent, aching grief. A few months ago I wrote a blog about a friend’s baby who had passed away at 6 days old. We marched in baby Caris AnnaBelle’s memory today. She would have been 3 months old yesterday.

 The weather was perfect- not too hot, not too cold. The trail we lapped was beautiful, peaceful, quiet. Even when we found out that the trail was 1.5 miles around, not 1 mile like we had thought, which resulted in us walking a mile more than we were supposed to before we figured out why we were the ONLY team still out there (we just figured everyone else were slackers). The extra mile was worth it, figuratively and literally (incidentally, we ended up walking 6 miles: one mile for each day of Caris' life).

I was more than honored to be there- I was humbled. Humbled to be surrounded by so many strong families, people who had suffered tragedy, crippling fear, worried, sleepless nights and grief, and survived. People who have forged ahead and declared that their children’s premature births, illnesses, disabilities, and lives weren’t, and never will be, in vain. It was truly inspiring.

I hope people don’t misunderstand me when I say that, although I was proud to be there, overjoyed to be able to honor Caris and support her family, I wish that it had never been necessary. I was ecstatic that our team raised more than 6 times our goal, setting a record in our area for a first time team, but I wish that there was no record to set. That’s where the tears and grief came from. Not just for Caris’ sake- for every baby’s sake.

This won’t be my last March for Babies. I will continue marching, every year, in memory of Caris. And in the hope that one day, the need to march will no longer be there.

Caris' parents, Chris and Maggie