To all bereaved mothers who’ve commented on my blog…..

I have not written here in such a long time.  Life has kept me very busy.  But, that really isn’t an excuse to stop writing.  I decided to visit my blog today and noticed that I have several comments from mother’s who’ve lost a child to cancer.  I want to apologize to each one of you for not responding to you.  I am just like you and I have a missing piece in my heart and soul.  I know what it is like to see kids around Kayla’s age (now 24) who are married, have children, going to or finished college and have begun their careers and wonder what she would have been.  I was recently talking to a mother who lost her child a few years ago.  And, we both agreed that the “finality” is one of the hardest things to accept.  We will never know what our children would have been, who they would have married, or how many children they would have.  I’ve, also, wondered, how would she be wearing her hair now.  What kind of music would she like?  And, just what would she be like at the age of 24?  I had Kayla when I was 24, which is hard to think about.  I was not finished when she died.  I still had so much more to say and do with her…..To all of the bereaved mothers who’ve commented on my blog and I have not responded, again, I apologize for not being there for you.  I will be getting back with each one of you, hopefully, this week.  If you would like to part of the online support group for mothers who’ve lost a child to cancer, please let me know and I can send you the information.  Each one of you are in my heart, thoughts and prayers………..Amber

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Kayla’s 22nd Birthday Poem

kayla Christmas ornamentToday is Christmas Eve and Kayla’s 22nd birthday.  While anticipating this difficult day, I wrote a poem to honor my daughter and to help me get through missing her today.

 

 

 

 

 

T’was the morning before Christmas;
still dark in the house.
something was stirring
and it wasn’t a mouse.
The blankets and sleepers
were folded with care;
I thought I was ready,
but, I wasn’t prepared.
As I slowly rolled out of my bed,
I had no idea what was ahead.
Discomfort and stress
had fallen in my lap.
What was I to do?
There were still presents to wrap.
As the pain became harder
I wondered what was the matter.
I looked in the mirror,
“Wow! I’m getting fatter and fatter!”
Away to the car, I flew like a flash.
I had to be quick
and tried not to crash.
Racing through red lights
while the pain continued to grow.
I was almost there;
just a few miles to go.
As the pain progressed,
it was perfectly clear;
it was time for the arrival
and to let go of my fear.
Pushing and hurting
with tears in my eyes;
I was anxious to see
my Christmas surprise.

When what do my wondering
eyes did appear;
my first born child
with no worries and no fears.
A girl with blue eyes and bright
red hair;
weighing only 5 lbs
and skin that was fair.
I looked at my girl with happy tears;
I didn’t know I’d only have her
for 17 years.
My time with you was far too short
and I wish I had another day;
I look forward to seeing you again
and I’ll never let you go away.
I wish I could see you in Heaven
to hug and say to you…
Merry Christmas, Kayla
And Happy Birthday, too.

 

 

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A Time to Remember

One night, I was sitting in the living room of my childhood home. Instead of resting on a chair or the couch, I found comfort on a high-top wooden table. I was high enough off of the ground where my feet could barely touch the floor beneath me. Without thinking about it, I found myself leisurely swinging my legs back and forth. It’s funny how sitting on something slightly elevated off of the ground can make you feel like a kid again. I was seated directly across from my mother when I noticed how young she appeared. It was as if she was 20-years-old again. As I was admiring her youthful presence, she looked at me directly and intently. “I know you are hurting about Kayla, Amber,” she said to me…..without saying a word.  I silently responded with, “Mom, I am fine. Please don’t worry about me.”  Honestly, I was really having an overwhelming moment of grief and didn’t want to tell her because I knew she would worry. But, amazingly, we seemed to be communicating telepathically with each other. I wanted to verbally tell her how I truly felt, but, I simply could not speak; nothing would come out of my mouth. Maybe this explains the bond between a mother and her daughter. Somehow, we have the capability to just know how the other one is feeling. A mother never stops worrying about her daughter….no matter how old she is….And, a daughter never wants her mother to worry about her. But, I have learned over time that it is impossible to take all of the anguish and anxiety away from a mother when it comes to concern for her children.

While visiting with my mother, something unbelievable happened.  When I stood up from sitting on the wooden table I felt something in my right hand. It was not painful or uncomfortable; it was just there. I looked down at my clinched fist and carefully opened my hand with one finger at a time unsure of what I might find. Surprisingly, there was a message written in the palm of my hand. The ink was very black and looked like it was written with a Sharpie pen. When I read the message, the familiar feeling of shock overwhelmed me. It felt like a lightening bolt went through my entire body. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. “Mom, I am okay. Love, Kayla.” How was this possible? My heart began to pound harder and faster. My breathing intensified. Immediately, I started looking around the room for her, but, she was no where to be found.  The room was spinning and I was in a panic. And, then in a blink of an eye…….I woke up.

I began having vivid dreams when I was a very young child.  The dreams were always in color and usually incomprehensible.  Years ago, I had a crazy dream that I was walking through a giant box of Bryer’s vanilla ice cream with tennis rackets tied to the bottom of my feet to use as snow shoes….Ha….I wouldn’t know where to begin to try to interpret a ridiculous dream like that.  However, this dream about the message from Kayla, seemed so real.  It felt like it really happened.  I can still visualize every detail from the high-top light oak table I sat on to the scent of the marker in my hand.  I can remember that it was a very dark night with the sky lit up with stars.  My mother glowed with youth and a time long before she lost her oldest grandchild.  Everything in this dream seemed like I could reach out and touch it.  But, as I was slowly opening my eyes from a deep sleep, reality quickly set in.  What seemed so realistic was only a dream.  A huge wave of disappointment washed over me as I awoke.  It seemed so unfair that my brain would take my thoughts hostage and manipulate them into convincing me that this dream really happened.  But, at the same time, having an opportunity to receive a message from Kayla gave me comfort and peace.  The closest way for a bereaved mother to see her child is through her dreams.  We often pray and ask God to please send our child to us in our dreams.  And, even through the disappointment of reality upon waking, I still had a very precious moment in time that I will always appreciate and never forget.

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Where Were You On that Day?

It’s been entirely too long since I’ve written anything.  Sometimes, I forget that writing still remains as my best source of grief therapy.  No matter how much I stay busy being a mother, wife, etc., I need to take the time to write.  Expressing my thoughts through my own words written on paper or typed on a computer have saved me and I am going to try to do more of it……………….

September 11, 2001……I can remember the day like it was yesterday.  It was a beautiful, sunny and warm morning.  I was driving to work when a news flash was announced on the radio, “A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center.”  Like many others, I thought it was an accident or a mechanical problem with the plane.  I continued to listen intently to the radio station announcer.  “Another plane has flown into the World Trade Center.”  Another plane?  This was, obviously, not a mechanical problem.  Was it the end of the world?  For a brief moment, I did think that Judgement Day had arrived. As the minutes and hours went by on September 11, 2001, I continued to watch the tv in horror; I couldn’t stop watching it.  All I could think about were the people who died tragically and their devastated families.  There was not one person on that day who thought their life was going to end not long after entering the doors of those buildings.  There was not one family who knew that they would never see their loved one again.  Other than the horrific individuals that caused this tragedy, no one knew that the entire world was going to change that day.  And, I had no idea that just 9 years later in the month of September we would be facing Kayla’s last days on earth.

I, also, remember another significant day; July 3, 2010.  After some blood work was completed for Kayla, I was contacted by her doctor and was told to get her to the ER immediately and to be prepared for a blood transfusion.  Later that day, her doctor walked into her hospital room and said those dreaded words that no parent wants to hear, “We believe she has acute myeloid leukemia.”  We were both shocked.  I was speechless and before I could say anything, Kayla asked, “Cancer?”  .The doctor replied with a heart-breaking, “yes.”  Kayla and I held hands and through fear, shock, and tears, we tried to process this devastating news we had been given.  That day changed our lives forever.

September 22 is just days away.  It will be 4 years since I’ve seen Kayla.  I still can’t believe that so much time has gone by since she died.  But, this year will be a little different.  On September 23, Allison will be one day older than Kayla was when she passed away.  Allison is 17; Kayla was 17 when she died.  I didn’t even realize this until Allison told me.  As a bereaved mother, I can get caught up in my own heartache and, at the same time, forget that Kayla’s sisters grieve for her, too.  I feel terrible for doing that to them.  And, I wish I could take all of their pain away.  But, we all wish that Kayla was here with us.

In a blink of an eye…..in an instant a person’s life can change forever…….And, while I was closing this post, I looked at the clock.  What time was it? 9:11.

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“Mom Minus 1” The Book

kj book coverWhen Kayla died, I looked everywhere for another mom who had been through the devastating loss of a child to cancer.  At the time, I didn’t know that it would be a difficult search.  I found some news articles here and there.  But, I couldn’t find a way to contact the mothers.  I wanted and needed to find one mother who understood.  I tried to find books written by mothers who had lost a child to cancer.  I looked at the library, book stores, etc.  But, I just couldn’t find one.  My heart was screaming, “Where and who is she?  I desperately need to find her.  She is the only one who will get it.  She will understand.”  It was not long after I started this blog when I became surprisingly blessed by something very special to me; a bond and a connection with many mothers who were just like me.  Each one had experienced the heartbreaking loss of a child to cancer.  I hated the fact that there were so many children who suffered and died due to this cruel illness.  But, the connection with their mothers was an absolute blessing.  It was the bond created with these incredible women that encouraged me to put my blog into a book.  I know there are many that would rather hold a book in their hands rather than looking at a computer screen.  I recently self-published a book which includes a compilation of selected blog posts.  The book is available here http://www.thebookpatch.com/BookStore/%22mom-minus-1%22-a-mothers-journey-through-life-after-losing-her-daughter-to-cancer/28c50c6f-ad2f-47fe-9aff-b0cbf715d9f5?isbn=9781620308899  It is, also, available on Amazon.  However, it looks like The Book Patch is the best site to place an order.  Also, and “coming soon,” is another book I am writing which will be about Kayla’s 81 day journey with cancer……I do not want another mom who loses her son or daughter to cancer to feel completely alone.  If what I’ve written only helps with healing one mother’s broken heart, I will know that I’ve fulfilled exactly what I was supposed to do after losing Kayla.

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Does God Really Hear Me?

butterfly real 2Have you ever wondered if God really hears you when you pray?  I don’t remember ever not praying in my life time; it’s just always been something very important to me to do.  But, does God really hear me?  It’s easy to say that God answers,”yes,” to our prayers when we receive something that we really want.  But, when we pray and don’t get what we want, we assume God’s answer is, “no.”  I’ve accepted the fact that God said, “no,” when I begged Him for healing over Kayla’s sick and frail body.  I didn’t like the answer I was given, but, I’ve learned to accept it.  Since her death, there have been days when I felt that it was pointless to pray.  I’ve thought, “Why should I even bother to pray when God didn’t save my daughter?”  But, over time, God has opened my eyes to see some of the blessings that have come from the loss of Kayla.

One afternoon early last week, I was outside walking my dog.  I began thinking about how September 22, the third anniversary of Kayla’s death, was quickly approaching.  I knew it was going to be a difficult day to get through.  So, I thought about what I would want on this significant day to assure me that she was okay.  Orange butterflies have been a sign of comfort for me since Kayla died.  This color represents leukemia, her red/orange hair, Orange Beach, Alabama (her favorite vacation spot), and more.  I didn’t wake up and choose an orange butterfly to remind me of her; it just evolved into it.  And, at that moment, I knew what I wanted and I began a silent prayer, “God, please send me an orange butterfly…….”  In the blink of an eye, a small orange butterfly instantly appeared at my feet!  And, as quickly as it appeared, it flew away.  How did this happen?  I did not even finish my prayer when the butterfly appeared!  I was initially asking God to please send me an orange butterfly on September 22.  But, I never expected an instantaneous answer.  I’ve never had a prayer answered that quickly and blessed with exactly what I asked for, either!  I immediately thanked God for the butterfly.  And, because God sent it to me as an early gift, I decided that I didn’t have to see on on September 22.  I just prayed for comfort and strength to get through the day.  Later, I privately told Joel about what happened.  And, he was happy to see me smile.

I woke up a little later than usual on Sunday morning of September 22.  I knew I needed to make a decision about visiting Kayla’s grave. Part of me knew I should be there even if it was just for a few minutes.  Another part of me, felt that it would be too emotionally difficult to be anywhere near the cemetery.  Thankfully, Joel insisted that I get up and get dressed and said he would take me there.  Just as we were a few miles from our home and sitting at a red light, Ashley, who was in the back seat, said, “Look!  There’s an orange butterfly!”  I was so happy and thanked God for answering my prayer request for this special day.  We continued on our journey to the cemetery, but, needed to stop for gas.  And, from one end of the building of the gas station to the other end, an orange butterfly flew by.  I couldn’t believe it!  God sent me two butterflies today!  What a blessing that was for me!  As we kept heading to the cemetery, I decided to stop by a local Walmart and find something new to put on her grave site.  We decided to get a new wind chime.  There was already one there, but, it was rusted and the colors had faded.  I looked for a butterfly wind chime, but, had no luck finding one.  We decided on one with a lady bug; A lady bug is another nick name some friends and coworkers had given Kayla while she was working in a bakery.  And, that bakery, was located just across the street from the Walmart we visited.  As we drove by it, my mind went back to Kayla’s first day at work.  I remember taking her there and she was so nervous and scared to get out of the car.  I kept encouraging her that she would be fine and to go in and just do her best.  Now, I wish I just would have held onto her and not allowed her to work, go to school, socialize, and kept her in a plastic bubble and maybe…..just maybe……I could have protected her from cancer………We arrived at the cemetery and walked up the hill to her grave site.  We removed the old wind chime and replaced it with the new one.  The wind was slightly blowing and just enough for the chimes to make a beautiful and peaceful sound.  A few minutes later, one of Kayla’s best friends, Courtney, her boyfriend and her mother arrived carrying a vase of beautiful fall flowers.  I had not seen them in a while and was so glad that I did.  Courtney’s birthday is, also, on September 22.  It was over a year after Kayla died when I learned that her dear friend, who was like a sister to her, shared a birthday with Kayla’s Heavenly birthday.  I said to Courtney, “Your birthday is forever changed and will never be the same again.”  She agreed, but, was blessed to share something so significant and special with her best friend.  We were all gathered around the head stone sharing memories and stories of Kayla.  All of a sudden…..there it was again……a beautiful ORANGE BUTTERFLY!  It flew right over her head stone, over the top of our heads and then quickly disappeared.  I was stunned and amazed.  I really didn’t know what to say or what to think.  But, everyone saw it!  God really heard me!!!  And, that was all that I wanted.  I wanted to be able to see an orange butterfly on September 22.  But, God sent me three butterflies that day to represent three years!  Some might say this was nothing but a coincidence, but, I have to disagree.  This was a direct message sent to me by our Heavenly Father to assure me that my daughter is okay and she is still with me.  I’ve never experienced a prayer request to be instantly answered and hit me right between the eyes.  I’ve waited for three years for a moment like this.  With the exception of a few dreams about Kayla, this is the first time I’ve truly felt her presence.  God allowed me to have a brief moment with my daughter and I am beyond grateful for this gift.

When I think back to all of hours I spent pleading and bargaining with God to take cancer away from Kayla, I get overwhelmed.  There were moments when I felt like I was hitting my head against a wall.  I didn’t understand why He wasn’t listening.  But, I believe He did hear me.  He did answer my prayers.  I prayed, “Dear God, please take this horrific and devastating cancer away from Kayla, please heal her, allow her to be set free from this pain and suffering.”  He did all of these things for her……in Heaven.

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Three Years

kayla painting 2The clock is ticking and is not going to stop………September 22 is in two days and I can’t prevent this day from happening.  I cannot believe it has been three years since I’ve seen Kayla.  Part of this time since she died has quickly gone by.  Another part of me has stood completely still.  I have accepted the fact that there will always be some pain…….some days are better than others…….I still like to laugh.  And, I haven’t forgotten how to cry………

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on my blog.  I really have not had the desire to write much lately.  I’ve started several posts, but, I have not finished any of them yet.  I knew that I wanted or, at least, needed to write something in honor of Kayla and our third anniversary without her.  As I was thinking about what I wanted to write, I became distracted with the very difficult memories I have of her last few days on earth.  Thoughts of watching her slowly go away forever are stuck in my head…..all of the pain and suffering she endured, the multiple IV’s, numerous doctors and nurses constantly in and out of her room.  I was so confused, emotional, angry, etc.  I still remember when I first realized that she was not going to live.  One of her regular doctors stopped by to see her, along with a number of other doctors in PICU.  At that point, she was in an induced coma and on a BIPAP ventilator.  The only thing that I remember is that “look” the doctor gave me.  It was a look of fear.  He knew she was not going to make it, but, just could not tell me.  He didn’t have to; I just knew.  As I’m remembering those devastating days, I decided to go back and look at what I had written in Kayla’s Caringbridge journal.  It was so hard for me to read it, but, I needed to take my mind and my heart back there and reflect on my last few moments with my daughter.  I wanted to share it with everyone and it is posted below:

Written September 19, 2010 9:47am

“I really hoped and prayed that last night was going to be a better night for Kayla.  In my journal entry last night, things were going so much better for her.  Her fever was gone.  All the nausea and vomiting had stopped.  She was very talkative and watching TV. But, late last night everything changed.  The doctors started her on a new medication last night and warned me of the side effects:  flue like symptoms, shaking, nausea and vomiting.  She had all of the side effects.  Can my daughter just have a little break from this hell? 

She is resting right now and heavily medicated for pain and nausea.  Her  BP began to drop again this morning.  They think it is due to her being on so much medication.  Fluids were started via IV, which is to help bring up her BP.  Her fever is going away, as well. 

As far as what is making her so sick is still unknown.  She had abdominal x-rays and an ultrasound of her belly done yesterday which did not find anything significant.  So, the doctors are thinking that she is reacting to chemo which can make you very sick.  Her last chemo treatment was last Monday, September 13. However, as her WBC’s continue to drop after treatment, she can then be very sick for several days or weeks.

She is still in PICU and we are not sure when they will let her return to her regular room.  We were hoping it would be today, but, we are just not sure that is going to happen.

Kayla looked at me yesterday and said, “Mom, please take this cancer away from me.”  All I knew to tell her was that if I could cure her I would and I would trade places with her in a second.  I really do mean that.  And, I am sure all of the mom’s out there that are reading this could agree with me.  Kayla says that she doesn’t understand how I could feel that way.    I have explained to her that one day when she becomes a mother, she will do ANYTHING to keep her children safe, protected, healthy and happy.

Praying for a better day for Kayla……….she needs some peace right now.

And, just as I was going to post this journal entry onto caringbridge, the doctors stopped by to check on Kayla.  They might do a CT of her abdomen since they could not find anything from an x-ray or the ultrasound.  When the doctors walked out of the room, I looked over at her BP and it had dropped to 89/28.  I ran out into the hall and told the doctors.  They calmly came in and looked at her and then ordered more IV fluids and a pint of blood.  The nurse took her BP again on her other arm and it was 100/40.  She said the reason her BP was so low was because her arm was elevated above her heart causing an inaccurate reading.  I was relieved, but, I am still so worried about her.  She is stable now and just praying for that light at the end of the tunnel for her.”

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Two Empty Beach Chairs – A Short Story

beach picIt’s 12:24 in the early afternoon on a Saturday.  The temperature is a scalding 95 degrees with 100% humidity.   It is August; the hottest time of the year in the Florida panhandle.  I spent most of my childhood through young adult life here.  Therefore, I naturally acclimate well with the warm weather.

     I never go to the beach without my girls because they enjoy it just as much, if not more, than I do.  But, even though I felt terribly guilty, I knew I needed to go alone today.  I needed some one-on-one time with Kayla.  And, there is no other place in the world where I feel closer to her than while at the beach.  Even as fair skinned and red-headed as she was, Kayla still loved the beach.  It was, also, the last place she visited before her life was unexpectedly changed and lost from cancer.

Florida Panhandle  Florida Panhandle

Before leaving, I went in search of our beach chairs.  The last place I remembered seeing them was summer a year ago in the garage.  Eventually, I found the chairs buried under a large stack of boxes.  But, I was determined to not allow anything to get in my way of retrieving those chairs.  After juggling the cumbersome totes, I grabbed the dusty chairs and headed to my car.  I eased my way into my hot and sticky vehicle and I carefully grabbed the hot seat belt and hoped to not burn myself with the metal clip.  I started the engine and turned the air conditioner on full blast as I desperately tried to cool down.  As I continued onto my beach destination, I spent some time thinking about things I wanted to ask Kayla.  But, I worried more that I wouldn’t be able to hear her answers.

Several miles into my trip, I noticed my gas tank was nearly empty.  So,  I began looking for a gas station.  However, I was traveling on a lengthy stretch of the highway with no signs of civilization for miles.  Eventually, I came upon a small mom & pop store with one gas pump available.  The store looked like it had been around since the 1950’s.  It seemed so inviting and I just had to go inside and investigate.  Once entering the store, I felt like I had stepped back in time.  The vintage, wooden counters, shelves, and tin signs on the walls advertising milk and to “drink Coca-Cola” all seemed to be original and had probably been there since the day it opened.  There was one little old lady behind the register.  She was probably in her late 70’s or early 80’s, very petite, with crystal blue eyes…..eyes that made me feel like I had seen them before……Her hair was gray, coarse, wavy and with hints of red throughout each thin strand.  She smiled at me and said, “Hello.”  I smiled back at her and responded with, “Hi” as I continued walking toward her.  Immediately, my eyes were drawn to a heart shaped pendant hanging from a long necklace she was wearing.  It was gold and simply made.  Maybe it was more of what was written on the pendant that caught my attention; “Isaiah 41:10.”  This particular scripture was Kayla’s favorite one and is, also, written on her head stone.  Seeing this scripture today made my heart glad, which is sometimes difficult for me to feel these days.  As I was rummaging through my purse looking for money to pay for my gas, I set my keys on the counter in front of the lady.  “Kayla,” she said.  I looked at her with a lot of uncertainty and confusion.  “Kayla,” she said, again, while pointing to my key chain.  I then realized why she kept saying Kayla’s name.  My key chain has a mini-license plate that says, “Kayla.”  This was, actually, on Kayla’s key chain.  But, I started using it myself not long after she died.  I guess it’s another way for me to feel closer to her.  “Oh, that is my daughter’s name,” I said to the lady.  “I have a granddaughter named, ‘Kayla,'” she said.  At that time, I told her about the 3 children I have with a brief summary of their ages and very different personalities.  But, I never mentioned that Kayla was no longer living.  Sometimes, it is so comforting to pretend as if all of my girls are happy,healthy and most of all…..alive.  So, that is exactly what I did that day.  And, for a moment, I felt normal again and not just the mother who lost a child to cancer.

I left the store and continued on my journey.  I began reminiscing about the many times I took Kayla to the beach when she was a little girl.  Once, when she was about 5-years-old, a swarm of mosquito’s attacked the back of her legs and  covered her with numerous bites.  She looked like she was having an allergic reaction to something that day at the beach.  During another trip when she was much older, her foot was stung by a jelly fish, which was incredibly painful for her.  And, when I think about these episodes at the beach earlier in her life, it makes me wonder, “Was it the mosquito’s or maybe the jelly fish that caused her to have leukemia?”  My gut tells me that it was neither of these things.  But, it’s just how my brain works; I’m constantly thinking and wondering if there was anything I could have done to prevent her from developing cancer.  Her doctor’s assured me that there was nothing I could have done to stop it.  Mosquito’s?  Jelly fishChicken nuggetsImmunizations?  Ugh!!!  These are the things that keep me awake at night!

I had been thinking and talking to myself so much that I did not realize I had finally made it to my beach destination.  And, it was as beautiful as I had remembered.  After parking my car, I grabbed the beach chairs and began my hike to find the perfect spot.  Where is the “perfect spot?”  I don’t know, but, I always know it when I see it.  There was a warm and comforting breeze.  The scent of salt water and sea life was in the air.  The sand was sugary white and it felt more like quick sand as I diligently lifted one foot in front of the other as if I was walking in slow motion.  And, then I found it…..the perfect spot.  I opened my chairs, sat down and let out a sigh of relief.  I was so content and comfortable digging my toes in the sand.  The only sound I heard was the crashing of the waves.  Surprisingly, there was no one else there, which was really okay with me.  A few seagulls flew by to see if I had any food to offer them.   I could see a small boat off in a distance and thought how nice it would be to take a ride.  I looked up into the bright blue sky and saw a small airplane flying by as it pulled a banner advertising a local seafood restaurant.  The seagulls, boats, airplanes; a cluster of beach objects was all too familiar to me since I’ve been in this environment just about my entire life….these things are probably very simple and minute to some people, but, they are very meaningful to me.

Kayla's beach trip the summer before her leukemia diagnosis.

As I sat in my beach chair, with the empty chair next to me, I began to look around for Kayla.  I thought if I hoped and prayed enough, she might just show up.  And, then in a distance, I see someone walking along the shore.  I tried to really focus on the person by tightly squinting my eyes while my hand shaded them from the bright sun.  The person was so very far away and looked like a tiny ant walking through the sand.  “Maybe that is her!  God heard my cries and my prayers!  Oh, God!  Please let that be Kayla……Please, God!”  I could not stand the anticipation anymore and I started running and waving my arms up in the air and saying, “Kayla!  I’m here!  I’m here!  I knew you would be here, too!”  But, as I got closer and my eyes became a little more focused, I realized that what I was seeing was not a person….and it was not Kayla.  The combination of the glare from the sun reflecting off of the water and the intense heat created a mirage or an optical illusion.  Or, maybe my mind was just playing a cruel trick on me.  Disappointed, I bowed my head and stood on the shore while allowing the cold waves to rush in over my feet.  I finally realized that Kayla would not be here today.  What was I thinking, anyway?  Did I honestly think God would allow her to leave Heaven and visit me ?  Have I completely lost my mind?  I turned around and began walking back to my beach chairs.  I sat down in one of the chairs while starring at the empty one.  “Kayla, if you can hear me, I need and want to talk to you.  I came here today because the beach is the one place where  I can feel your presence even though I cannot see you with my eyes.  I was full of wishful thinking that you would actually come walking down the beach today with your beautiful, long red hair blowing in the wind.  I was going to hug you for as long as I possibly could.  I wanted to really look at you and take every ounce of you in.  I wanted to hear you say that you were really okay and everything is so much better in Heaven…..I even saved a seat for you……One beach chair for me and one for you.  I want to understand why you had to die and I thought….just maybe…..you would be here today to tell me everything I needed and wanted to know.  But, reality finally hit me and I knew you were not going to be here today.  I still want you to know that I miss you terribly and my life will never be the same again.  Your sister’s and I keep going each day, but, it is just not the same without you.  Thank you for all of the messages that you send me.  I love and miss you, Kayla.”

As I wiped away my tears, I decided it was time to leave.  But, today, I would not be leaving with my two beach chairs.  I left them there on the beach…just in case Kayla might decide to visit.  There was a purpose for leaving the second empty chair, as well.  It would be there waiting for someone else’s child that passed away from cancer……one chair for my child and one chair for their child.

As I drove away, a big part of me felt like I was leaving Kayla behind; I was going home to see her sister’s and felt guilty for leaving, just as I did when I went to the beach alone.  I started beating myself up for actually getting my hopes up to see Kayla today.  “Why did I put myself through this torture?”  I knew I could have saved myself a lot of grief by simply taking my girls to the beach and having a fun family day.  But, I really felt like this was what I needed to do.   Even if it was only to leave the two beach chairs behind in hopes to be found by my girl and another child who lost their life to cancer.

Kayla 7 & Allison 3 walking on the beach.

The traffic was, unexpectedly, heavy and thick during my commute home.  At one point, every car on the road was at a complete stop.  There was nothing I could do but sit….and think.  I thought about my entire day from my decision to go to the beach alone to the very moment I became trapped in my vehicle.  My mind became focused on something I had seen earlier in the day; Isaiah 41:10 written on the old lady’s gold pendant.  How ironic it was to just so happen to stop at this store and see Isaiah 41:10 engraved on a piece of jewelry.  And, then it hit me…….”The little old lady at the store!  Kayla sent me a message through the precious elderly woman!”  It all made perfect sense to me……Her petite frame, hints of red in her hair, the crystal blue eyes and Isaiah 41:10.  I had to go back to the store and talk to the lady!  The traffic began creeping along at a snail’s pace; I could see the old store just up ahead and anxiously tried to get there.  After sitting in traffic for what seemed like an eternity, I excitedly pulled into the store parking lot.  I jumped out of my car and ran to the front door saying to myself, “I have to tell the lady that Kayla sent her to visit me.  She needs to know the significance of Isaiah 41:10 on her pendant!  Maybe she’s an angel!  Kayla was sending me a message through this lady!  She might have more to tell me!  I need to see her again!”   I grabbed the handle to the front door to open it only to find the it locked; the store was closed.  I peeked through the glass door to see if I could see her.  I tried knocking on the door and windows.  But, she was gone.  And, once I accepted the fact that I would not see the lady again, I got back in my car and continued driving home.  I thought to myself, “If I had only left the beach a few minutes earlier, maybe I could have gotten to the lady before she left.”  I, eventually,realized that I shouldn’t be sad or disappointed.  My day was, actually, fulfilled with a few unexpected events.  If I had woken up this morning and made a completely different decision to do something else, I never would have received a visit from Kayla by way of the little old lady.  And, this might have all been nothing but a pure coincidence.  But, is there really such a thing as a “coincidence?”  Or, are things that happen just meant to be?  I’ll never know for sure the answer to these questions.  But, I choose to believe that everything that happened during my beach trip was absolutely meant to be.

Isaiah 41:10

10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

A painting of my girl's by my mother; their "Nana."

girls painting 1

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Mom’s Missing Peace Support Group

beach picPlease visit a new blog and support group I recently created for mother’s who have lost a child to cancer.  I’m very excited about the opportunity for mom’s like us to have a comforting place to share our grief, struggles and special memories of our children.

Click the link below to view the blog:

http://momsmissingpeace.wordpress.com/

If you would like to visit or join the support group, you can find it located in the Mom’s Missing Peace blog OR please click here:

https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/momsmissingpeace

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