Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Week To Go

This will be Christmas number 4 without our Abby here.  Year one we tried to avoid as much as we could.  Year two we began to incorporate her into the season more with our "Abby Tree" at home and her own pink tree at the cemetery.  Year three we were snowbound, making the day harder by not having family here and not being able to go the the cemetery. Year four is all but here and I am still not ready.  Yes the trees are up  - one upstairs, one downstairs, and our Abby Tree.  The night before we had plans to pull out the trees, I could not sleep and became physically ill.  I tried passing it off as a bug, but deep down I knew the cause was the anticipation of what was to come the next day.  The trees went up and the girls had fun decorating them.  We still cut down on the number of ornaments we put up, but maybe in a few more years we will have them all back out.  Later I realized I did not take a single picture of the event which is really odd for me.  Last week our Abby Tree went up and was decorated.  It seemed like Mady took extra pride this year in helping me with her tree.  She hung almost every ornament, strung the pink star garland, wrapped the base with the pink Princess tree skirt, and placed the star on top.  Even though the trees are up and decorated, for some reason they don't seem to get plugged in.  I guess the light is just not back in the holiday for us yet.  Today we plan on getting Abby's pink tree decorated and to her at the cemetery.  Then it will be shopping and wrapping left to make the day special for the girls.   

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Happiness. Joy. Elated. Just a few words to describe my mood this morning as Marc opened the door to the garage to start the vehicles. There was meowing as gray fur ran past into the house. JackJack came home! He is pretty thin abd lost his bell off his collar, but looks to be in good health otherwise. Happy tears! He won't leave my side and has been soaking up the love.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sending Down Love

I was so proud of myself today as I pulled out two totes of Christmas decorations to begin placing around the house.  The tote was filled with things to hang on the wall ~ pictures, plaques, snowmen, and the countdown calendar I was searching for.  Of all theses things, the only one I had gotten out the last three Christmases was the countdown Santa.  I was pulling down the antique ceiling tile in the foyer to replace it by a snowman picture when something fell to the floor.  It fell face up and I stopped to pick up.  It was a receipt from preschool fees for Abrielle.  The receipt was dated 8/9/06.  I have no idea how that piece of paper got behind the ceiling tile. I guess it was just our little angel sending down some love.        

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Letter From An Offender

I received another letter from an offender at Maryville Treatment Center after my last speech there.  He commended me for coming to speak and went on to tell me about some of his issues.  Here are a few excerpts from his letter. 

"Your story really went right to my heart.  I can honestly say I will never do it again."

"Just to think about the victims I could have caused myself, and it only takes a split second.  I would not be able to live with myself."

"So, just to let you know, you have changed my life in way that really makes what you do worth it."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanks for Using GoodSearch

A big thank you to everyone out there that is using GoodSearch and GoodShop to help support the Foundation!  We received $253.67 from activity from October 2009 until September 2010.  This is such a wonderful way to donate ~ just an extra click of the mouse.  Keep on GoodSearch-ing and GoodShop-ing throughout the holidays! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Goodbye JackJack

As much as I hate to, I have forced myself to be realistic this week.  I gathered all his cat supplies and put them into the storage room.  JackJack has been gone for a month now and the odds of him coming back home are pretty slim.  A declawed cat would have a hard time catching food, escaping from the coyotes, and surviving on his own for this long.  He escaped the night of Granny's funeral.  Elly went outside and didn't shut the door.  I did not get too worried and actually did not even attempt to go find him that night because any other time he got out he always came back home.  The next morning I saw JackJack but I was having the carpets cleaned and he refused to come in the house, hiding under the front porch instead.  I got frustrated with the rotten cat and thought he would be more than ready to come inside after the cleaners left.  I was wrong and could not find him.  We have searched (me daily) for our special kitty, but no luck.  I have been trying to keep my emotions in check, but you guys all know how important JackJack was to us.  Part of me feels like I have let Abby down but another part says that I'm sure she is excited to have her kitty to play with herself again, as I'm sure he is too.  He missed his little girl too.  We will miss you JackJack.       

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Family Pictures

Here are just a few photos from the family pictures we took.  We also took pictures with my parents and siblings.  As I said before, we included Abby's black leotard in the pictures this time.  Sometimes it is not very noticeable on someones lap, tossed over their shoulder, laid in the grass beside to other kids, or just held in a hand, but it was in everyone one of them.  We actually had to pick her leotard up off the floor from behind her bedroom door from where she peeled it off the last time days before the accident.   

Monday, November 15, 2010

Support Group Meeting

Saturday we had our support group meeting at CMH to help us get through the holidays.  I am thankful for these meetings because it helps me feel more normal to be with those who walk in the same shoes.  It was a little different for me this time as now we are considered some of the "oldies" of the group.  We were able provide help and ideas for the ones facing their first holidays.  My heart aches for them and their new loss, especially during this time of year, but sometimes just seeing those of us that are still here three, four, and five years after losing our child is all they need to know that they will survive.  I wish I could tell them that the holidays are "just another day" or "no big deal" this many years out, but they aren't and I'm sure they will never be.  I wish I could tell them that I no longer have to force myself to do the festive things, but I still do.  I wish I could say that somehow after year one of it all, the next year you don't feel like pulling the cover over your head to hide from the jovial world, but I still do.  I wish I could tell them that by now "the most wonderful time of year" is just that again, but it is not. But that is what the group is for and I know that I can call on those friends at any point during the next weeks and that we will help get each other through.

The girls went to their own group sessions and this time they were broke out by ages so Mady was in with older siblings and was able to do more talking and less play therapy.  I was glad to hear that she was willing to participate in the group session and express her feelings since she is so closed off most of the time with her emotions.  They did do some writing in a journal that she shared with me.  "When I was young I did not know what death meant.  I thought you were at someone house.  As I got older I knew what death meant.  I want to cry but I don't.  I love you but I did not know how to say it.  It was very hard to get over your death.  I still am not over your death."  Talk about heartbreaking for me to read.  I have started to wonder if kids at school have said something about "getting over it" to her and that is where that is coming from.     

Thursday, November 11, 2010

We Need A Helicopter

With the recent deaths that have thouched our family, Elly has been full of questions.  Some bring tears, but some make me smile.  

Mommy, where is Heaven?

It's up in the sky, above the clouds and stars where we can't see.

Oh.  So we need something that flies up in the sky way up high so we can go see Granny and Wendy and Abby...  An airplane...  No. We need a helicopter so we can go way up in the sky!  Mommy, we have to get a helicopter!  I miss Abby!  We need to find a helicopter! 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Homecoming Float

Here are pictures of "Abby's Drive-In", our Homecoming float. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Quick Catch-up

There has been so much going on right now that sometimes life seems really crazy.  I am going to give a real quick catch-up post to touch on some and will expand and post pictures as time allows.

  • The Homecoming Parade was last Saturday and I want to thank everyone that helped build the float and came to walk.  Pictures to come soon.
  • JackJack has now been missing 2 weeks but I am still trying to cling to some hope that he will still come home.
  • The Jackson family was also able to donate Wendy's corneas, giving the gift of sight to someone.
  • We took family pictures a few weeks ago.  Full family pictures for the first time without Abby.  We had her black leotard in the pictures with us.
  • We did carve our "A" pumpkin for Abby again this year for Halloween.
  • We also had 2 pumpkins that "disappeared" from Abby's grave.  How sad.   

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wendy's Family Donates

Wendy J Jackson

(March 13, 1975 - October 30, 2010)

Wendy Jo Jackson 35, of Maryville, MO passed away Saturday, October 30, 2010 at the St. Francis Hospital in Maryville after a five month battle with cancer.

Wendy was born on March 13, 1975 in Trenton, MO,to Rick and Ellyn Fuller, and lived all of her life in the Maryville area. She had attended NWMSU, and worked at Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp, Maryville.

She was preceded in death by her grandmother Connie Fuller, on May 31, 2010.

On December 12, 1998, she married Timothy M. Jackson, he survives of the home. She is also survived by her three sons, Cody, Tyson, and Logan, also of the home.

Other survivors include her parents, Rick and Ellyn Fuller, Burlington Junction, MO, her brother, Wes Fuller, Maryville, MO, her grandfather, Donald Fuller, Humphreys, MO, her grandmother, Doris Boram, Milan, MO, two Aunts, Kris Johnson, and her son Ryan, Monett, MO, and Rita Thomas, and her children, Chasity, and Dalton, Meadville, MO, and her best friend/sister, Amanda Gilman, of Maryville, MO.

Wendy’s funeral service will be at 10:30 A.M. Saturday, November 6, 2010 at the Bram-Danfelt Funeral Home, Maryville. Burial will be in the Camp Ground Cemetery, Osgood, MO. The family will receive friends from 6-8:00 P.M. Friday, November 5, 2010 at the funeral home.

Memorials are suggested to the Abrielle Neff Foundation, 16835 Icon Road, Pickering, MO 64476, or to the family, and can be directed to the Bram-Danfelt Funeral Home, 206 E. South Hills Drive, Maryville, MO 64468.

Services are under the direction of the Bram-Danfelt Funeral Home, Maryville, MO.

We are really honored that the family chose to send donations to the Foundation.  We know Wendy loved helping out with everything for the Foundation.  Even when she was so sick a week ago, she asked for me to bring her some cards to decorate while lying in the hospital bed. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Another Angel

Wendy Jackson lost her fight with cancer last night and earned her angel wings.  We will miss Wendy!  Here are a couple of pictures of Wendy helping out the Foundation.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Attention Parade Riders

Our line up time for your parade entry is 7:45 AM. Our entry must be lined up on College Park Drive between College Park Pavilion and the Ron Houston Center at this designated time. You must entry campus from the north on College Park Drive on 16th Street.

· It is imperative that your entry is lined up at your designated time. A Homecoming staff member will be on location to assist you.

· We understand that this line up time may be a bit earlier than you expected. Once you have been give the okay by a Homecoming staff member, you may leave your entry and return to it no later than 8:15 AM. Any groups not in attendance by 8:15 AM will be unable to participate in the parade, as we will start filtering entries into the parade line-up at this time.

· Please make sure anyone walking with you and/or entry is also with the entry by 8:15 AM. Parking has been reserved for parade participants on Lot 61.
· Please remember that throwing candy (or similar items) from the parade line-up is not allowed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Senior Project

We received a letter from Jennifer Gregory, a senior at Willow Springs High School in Willow Springs, MO about using the Foundation as her College English class project.  Her project will take up most of the year and will end with a donation of stuffed animals to the Pediatric unit at St. John's Hospital in Springfield, MO.  She plans on holding a competition in the elementary school to receive donations to use. 

We are honored that she has been touched enough by the Foundation to use it as a project and the fact that she is sharing Abby's Hugs with others!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Granny's in Heaven

My Grandma joined Abby in Heaven on Thursday night at the age of 92.  A bittersweet time for us as Granny is at peace now, but of course it was hard to let her go.  I was able to spend quite a bit of time with her before she got her wings and was able to talk about her getting to see Abrielle.  I asked her to make sure she took care of my little girl for me until I get there.  I asked her to tell her how much we missed her and how much we love her.  I told her to snuggle her, rock her, and read her books.  

Here are just a few pictures of our two angels in Heaven together.  I didn't go through the more recent ones just because they are harder for me to look at.  

On a fun little side note, Grandma was always Grandma to everyone that knew her, but after the girls came along, we had to come up with a way to differentiate all their Grandmas, so she became Granny in our household.

Love you Grandma and don't spoil my little girl too much!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Round at MTC

Last week I spoke to another class of offenders at MTC.  This class was probably the largest I have had there with about 20 men.  I was met with many questions and comments from this class also which makes me feel like my speech has made an impact.  Several offenders also shared some of their stories with me, which was a first.  Before I left, I was asked if I would be willing to speak at the correction facility in St. Joe too.  I said I would so soon our Abby will be touching more lives.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bagging/Parade Prep

We are scheduling a long overdue bagging for next Saturday, October 16th at 7 pm.  We will also be working on getting things ready to hand out in the parade. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Women Who Change the World

I received a wonderful card from a friend that really made my day.  Sometimes I am not sure if what I am doing is really making a difference so when I get words like these, it helps. 

"There are women who make things better... simply by showing up.  There are women who make things happen.  There are women who make their own way.  There are women who make a difference.  And women who make us smile.  There are women who do not make excuses.  Women who cannot be replaced.  There are women of wit and wisdom who - through strength and courage - make it through.  There are women who change the world every day ...women like you."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Butterfly Release

Like the Butterfly

It fluttered there above my head,
weightless in the soft breeze.
I reached up my hand
it lit upon my finger.

Waving glistening wings together
it looked at me for timeless moments.
I smiled, reaching deep and
finding all those cherished memories.

As it flitted off through the sunlit morning,
I knew we had said hello once more.
~ Leslie Langford, TCF, North Platte, NE

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Docudrama Round 2

Yesterday was the second year I spoke to area high school sophomores at the docudrama.  It is hard for me to speak at this, but if it prevents even one more senseless death, it's worth my tears.  I skipped all the outside re-enactment this year since it is difficult for me to see.  I also didn't watch the highway patrol video either.  I did hear several positive comments about my presentation, so that helps make me think that what I am doing is making a difference.  

Thank you to my friends that were there to support me.  I honestly could not do it without you guys there. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Memorial Service

Some people come into our lives
And leave footprints on our hearts
And we are never, ever the same.

We left messages for Abby on leaves we pinned to the tree again this year.

The Service was nice as usual and I feel it is nice to have a day of remembrance with other families like us.  There was a large crowd this year of around 500 families.  Following the beautiful song, "Playin' with the Angels" by Christy Simpson, a welcome, and a prayer, the following Litany of Remembrance was recited~

We gather to praise you God, for the gift of the children we honor today - for the joy, laughter, and love they brought into our world.

Thank you for the support and comfort of our family and friends who walk the journey of grief and mourning with us.

Grant us peace as we remember that these children no longer know pain or tears but are free from their suffering and strife.

Help us to be patient and kind to ourselves, and one another, when darkness overwhelms us and we sit in despair.

As we lift up each precious child who had died in this memorial service, fill our hearts to overflow with hope and love.  Touch us with an awareness of your guiding presence and sustain us with your mercy and grace.  Amen 

This was followed by the quilt dedication for this year and the song "Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)" by the Dixie Chicks.  We then listened to one of the chaplains speak.  "Somewhere over the Rainbow" was then sang and I was up next.

My speech went well.  For some reason, even after giving speeches as much as I have lately, I was still nervous.  I was doing really well until at one point I looked up to see Mady in tears.  She still never cries, so this just ripped at my heart.  I wanted so bad to just run off the stage and leave my speech unfinished to comfort her.  I knew I couldn't and had a hard time keeping it together. 

After my speech was the butterfly release.  

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mermorial Service Speech

Today I will be giving the following speech at the Memorial Service.

June 9, 2003, was one of our happiest days as we became a family of four and Madyson a big sister. The birth of Abrielle came after the heartache of losing a baby, making the event that much more special to us. As labor began that morning, we received our first glimpse of our new little one's personality. So eager to meet the world, Abby could not wait for the doctor to put on her scrubs or gloves; just a towel to catch her in was all there was time for. And so our lives began with Abrielle Lauryn, our small, enthusiastic little girl.

It didn't take long for Abby's adventurous personality to begin to shine. By seven months she was walking and by nine months, running. She kept all of us on our toes with her zest for life and her digestive issues. Abrielle underwent numerous outpatient procedures to try and remedy her constant vomiting and help her gain weight. As troubling as these issues were, they were not what took our little girl from us. Instead, our lives were changed by the decisions of a total stranger.

March 29, 2007 began like any other school morning in our household except for one difference – it was Abby's sharing day at preschool. Abrielle hurried faster than usual so that she would have time to choose something to take. She dressed in a brand new pair of Gymboree fruit punch capris and a yellow shirt and met me in the bathroom to find something for her hair. I helped her up on the sink and she dug through the hair tie basket looking for a yellow pony holder. She hurried out to the living room, telling me she wanted a little pony. With my 32-week pregnant belly protruding too far for her to climb on my lap, Abby stood in front of me as I pulled her hair up. Off she ran back to her room to gather her things for school as the rest of us went about getting ready for our days. Mady and I were ready to leave, but Abby was still hunting her sharing item. I carried my lunch out to the Expedition, had Mady get buckled up, and went into the house to see what was keeping Abby. I was met a few steps in by her and Marc carrying her bobcat skidloader, her bobbycat, as she called it. So out she came carrying her bright pink jacket, her pink and purple Dora backpack, and her bobbycat for sharing. Marc lifted her into her car seat and helped buckle her 5-point harness. We said our goodbyes and backed our of the garage with Marc leaving in front of us. It was 7:30 am.

Around the first set of curves on the gravel road, I slowed down as three turkeys flew across the road. I stopped momentarily to let the girls see them as they continued into the CRP grass. Abby said she saw them although I'm not sure that she did.

We continued on our way south down the gravel road towards Route OO, the path I take everyday, when at the top of a small rise I noticed another vehicle off in the distance. I did not think too much about it other than to wonder who would be traveling North on our road at that time in the morning. At the next small rise in the road, the green pickup was there, on my side of the road. As I decided the best way to avoid impact in that split second, I first tried moving over in my lane, but the pickup wasn't moving. It was then that I made the decision to try and avoid the vehicle and pulled the steering wheel as hard as I could to the left. I was so afraid I was going to roll the Expedition by doing that, but I had nowhere else to go. Seconds before impact, I see the driver of the green pickup swerve into me as if losing control or finally realizing I am there. There is a horrendous boom and then blackness.

Our Abrielle was not able to survive her injuries and at 11:47 pm received her angel wings, donating her organs to others. We were later informed that the driver of the green pickup was arrested and charged with Involuntary Manslaughter, two counts of Second Degree Assault, Operating a Motor Vehicle While in an Intoxicated Condition, Failure to Maintain the Right Half of the Roadway, and Driving While Revoked. He had two prior convictions for DWIs. Our grief became public news as we had to endure court proceedings and parole hearings as he was sentenced to 6 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections for his crime.

Marc and I had always joked that Abby would be the one to give us gray hairs, but we never imagined it would be like this. My heart was filled with such crushing pain that sometimes it was hard to draw a breath that didn't hurt. There were nights I felt I must wrap my arms around myself tight just to hold myself together. I knew the truth to the statement that one can die from a broken heart – my heart physically hurt. The pain was unlike anything I had ever experienced and unlike anything I could ever imagine. I felt as though my heart was shredded into little pieces while I was forced to stand by and watch, unable to do a thing. Friends and family have helped me gather the torn sections and slowly stitch them back together, but scars will forever remain.

When Abrielle died, I tried to will my body to go with her. I didn't want to be here without her. I know we were told that if she would have survived she would never be the same, the damage was too extensive. But I would have given anything to keep Abrielle here with us no matter what the condition. It would have been so much easier for me, but I know it would have been unfair to her.

In the months that followed, I was certain I could hear her little footsteps throughout the house and went looking for her. I seriously thought I was going crazy and wondered which would be better - to be insane and think Abby was still alive or to be lucid and know she wasn't.

Sleep was next to impossible without medication as my mind kept replaying the sights and sounds of that day. The survivor's guilt I experienced continually loomed as I kept trying to find a way that I could have prevented Abrielle's death.

I cried every day that first year and only less frequently now. Grief does not pass overnight. It does not pass at the one year mark. I don't think that I can tell you that it is gone for me yet. Some may not understand the sadness that is held in the depths of the soul after a child is taken from you, as we who have experienced it have learned to hide it beneath our masks. I have come to the conclusion that this is now a permanent part of my life and who I am, but it does not have to dominate my life. Just as butterfly works hard to emerge from its cocoon, we too have had to fight to free ourselves from the grief and depression that losing a child brings. How long will it be until we can flap our wings and fly? I wish I knew, but I do feel like a new normal is beginning to emerge and our wings are starting to dry. We try to stay in the “we were blessed with an angel for almost 4 years” place instead of focusing on our loss. We no longer feel the guilt from smiling and laughing. As special days and celebrations arrive, the panic is gone as we have found ways to continue to incorporate Abrielle into the festivities. I now try to proudly answer “three” when I'm asked how many kids I have instead of awkwardly stammering and trying to decide the best way to reply.

I would like to end this with a quote by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. “The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen." I say that we are beautiful people.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Upcoming Events

I have been asked to speak at the Docu-Drama again this year.  It will be September 21st at the Hangar again.

The Homecoming Parade is October 30th with a theme of Blast From The Past.  If you have ideas for float decorations, let me know.   

I am working on getting a bagging date scheduled also.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Words of Encouragement

I received letters from 4 offenders that were in the last ICVC class I spoke to. They were full of thanks and words of encouragement and I really appreciated getting them. Here are a few excerpts from the letters.
"It was a very touching and moving experience for me. It opened my eyes to a complete different level. It is one thing to watch a video of a victim of a victim but when you have the pleasure of actually being able to experience it in person it truly changes you."
"It made me realize that I had victimized alot more than just the people I committed my crimes against. You have truly changed my life for the better."
"...your story and tragedy truly effected me and will forever change the way I view a victim and all the emotional effects it has on you and everyone around you."
"Sometimes people like us need to see the impact that our crimes have on victims and I saw it that day."
"Many of our crimes are committed through ignorance and selfishness, whether they are intentional or not makes little difference when it comes to the suffering and loss or our victims. Through your courage and unselfishness you have brought this unfortunate fact to light for me and the other offenders who heard you speak."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Writing Away

We were contacted about speaking at the annual memorial service for families that have lost a child at CMH that we have attended the last 3 years. At first I was not sure if I could do this kind of speaking engagement because it is so different than the other speeches I have given. We agreed (which really means just me because Marc doesn't do public speaking) and have now been working on getting my thoughts together for this event. I will be talking about our life with Abrielle and our journey of grief since losing her. I hope I can touch families there and they can learn many different things from our story.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Memories for the Wall

Believe it or not, I have not created any type of memorial for Abrielle to hang on the walls of our home. I have bought collage frames with the intentions of placing some of my favorite photos in them to hang, but have yet to fill them. Instead, a contest got me inspired to finally create something. Here it is ~

In creating this, I had to do some things I had not yet, permanently remove things from Abby's room. I do not like moving things in her room still, so this was really hard for me. The only time things come out of her room are when they are included in pictures, but then they are placed back in their original spots in her room. In order to find some of the items I wanted, I had to pick up toys that were last touched by her little hands and placed into their toy baskets.

I tied a "hula" hair tie to the handle of the tray along with the flower zipper pull from her backpack. One block contains one a letter A in her handwriting that I copied. Another square has a pink butterfly barrette. Her teddy bear necklace has a new home where I can touch it anytime. Two of her Barbie shoes are included and they also symbolize her love of dance, gymnastics, and dressing up. A Barbie Princess crown sits in another corner because we always called Abrielle our Princess.
I included a two quotes that I love.
"While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about." Angela Schwindt
"If ever there is a tomorrow when we're not together, there is something you must always remember, you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think, but the most important thing is even if we're apart, I'll always be with you." Winnie the Pooh

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Deja Vu

Oh how that deja vu feeling kept creeping in today. From getting a three-year-old ready for school, to walking my little girl in for the first day of school, to waiting outside for her to come running and give me a hug. Everything kept taking me back to the fall of 2006 and sending Abby to preschool for the first time. I was able to stick to my "no tears at school" plan and did not let them fall until after the sunglasses were in place.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

To Preschool We Go

Monday night we took Elly to see the Preschool classroom and to meet her teachers. She was so excited to be going to "big girl school" that I wanted to make sure I did not have any tears to ruin it. For some reason as I was getting the girls ready, Elly said, "I want to see in Abby's room." Of course I explained that we don't play in Abby's room and went on about getting ready to leave, not sure what brought on the comment. As we drove into town, I couldn't help but feel my heart drop as we drove past the cross along the side of the road. It made ignoring the fact that Abby was missing impossible and I had to catch a few tears.

At the school, Elly could barely contain her excitement while I held my emotions in check. No tears at the school. We introduced her to her teachers and let her check out the room for a little while. Then as we looked at pictures of past preschool classes on the wall and found our Abby, the heartache was hard to ignore. Elly kept asking, "Why Abby not here?" after finding her in the picture, but I didn't answer. I have no answer for that question. It wasn't until later at night that I let the emotions of the evening catch up with me. Now the next step will be Thursday morning when I actually take El to preschool for the first time.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Golf Tournament

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day for the golf tournament fundraiser for the Foundation and Deryk Degase sponsored by my high school class (MHS 1994). There were 24 teams in all golfing for the day.

A big Thank You for Melanie Stiens Wassenberg for organizing the event.

And a big Thank You to all the hole sponsors who paid had signs at each hole.

After everyone was fed and all the prizes handed out, I announced that we wanted the Foundation's share of the funds to go to Deryk so that they can buy him an ipod to talk for him by pressing a button.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Just One Reason Why

"Dear Abrielle Neff Foundation,

I received one of your stuffed animals when I hurt my eye and had to go to he ER. They gave me Goochy, the Jellyfish! He helped me be a brave boy at the hospital. I love Goochy so much! Thank you very much for Goochy, the Jellyfish!

Owen Wonderly
4 yrs old

P.S. My Mom and I are making a donation so more little boys and girls can get an animal at the ER and be brave like me!"

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Making Progress

Thanks everyone for understanding my absence. I have to say that my break from added stress in my life has been a blessing. We have made the decision for me to stay home and spend time with our girls for awhile, which I am enjoying immensely. I look back at some of the decisions I have made since losing Abby and some were not what was best for my mental health in the long run. After the accident, I went back to work 7 days after we laid our little girl to rest because I didn't want to be home. The house was too empty. There were many things I left undone and still had not taken care of them in the three years since. During the last few weeks of being home, I have tackled many difficult ones, the hardest being the pictures. I finally took all the pictures off the memorial boards from the funeral, crying my eyes out as Mady helped me put them back in the albums. I am going to do my best to keep the blog up again, although it might not be daily.

Prison Speech ~ Round 4

I attended the ICVC class at Maryville Treatment Center last week to give my speech to the new batch of students. I would think it would become easier each time I give the same speech, but it still invokes emotions. I still catch a few tears and this time I did not watch the placement of the laptop that plays the pictures for my speech and flipped out a little when pictures came up that I don't like to see. Warren was there to help and I was so grateful for that. This class spent a good 20 minutes asking questions and making comments. It was probably the most involved class I have had so far. It appeared that each one of them were touched as all of them spoke. There were new questions this time too. I was asked about vengeance instead of forgiveness, trying to move on, and our new family dynamics. One man even admitted that he was receiving treatment for DWI's and stated he would never do it again after hearing me speak. I told him that I hoped he stayed strong and did not, but that if he should choose to drink that he would see Abby's face before he decided to get behind the wheel.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I have recently made some changes in my life to help myself and my family, but unfortunately the blog has been neglected. I am still trying to find the balance I need and will be back to blogging on a regular basis again soon. Right now I am spending some extra time with my family and enjoying every minute of it. The last few years the constant changes, stress, and business of life have kept me from doing some of the things in my family life that needed to be done. Some days I think I was merely surviving and not really living, not cherishing every moment fully like I wanted to. With these recent changes, our lives should benefit and hopefully our new normal will emerge.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Balloon Artist

The balloon artist we added this year was a hit! He tied over 400 balloon hats, flowers, swords, etc.

Friday, June 18, 2010


The kids just LOVED Clifford! They were giving him hugs and high fives all day long.