Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Tearful Morning

I was woke up this morning by an automated phone call from the State.  It was not how I would have chosen to start Christmas Eve.  We have cookies to bake for Santa, food to prepare for tomorrow, a few more presents to wrap, and fun and games planned for the evening.  I did not plan on starting the day with tears and fighting to not let the depression leave me curled up on the couch all day.  It's not that my little girl would be far from my thoughts.  In fact she would be in the front of my mind as we did all these activities.  She would be missed during every second of the day the way it was.  I did not need it thrown in my face that she is gone like it was at 8 this morning.  Here is a copy of the email message I received that is essentially what the phone call was, but with a few more details.   


Re: Ryan Sundermann, Offender #: 01177786

In response to your desire to be notified, please be advised that the above named offender has been scheduled for release on a conditional release date of 1/7/2012, which is the mandatory release date required by law. In addition, the offender may earn good time credit, which would advance the release date. Upon release, please note that the remainder of the offender's sentence will be served under parole supervision.

No further notification will be sent to you unless the offender's release date is advanced or the offender is revoked and returned to a correctional facility.

Friday, December 23, 2011


The shopping is done.  The gifts are wrapped (all but a few). The trees have been up for a week.  The pictures are taken, but cards will probably be Happy New Year.  The end of the Holiday season is in sight.  I have been rather proud of how I have handled things this year so far.  I forced myself to take care of things on my own.  I shopped without having to be pulled along by friends.  I needed Abby's trees up as soon as the others were up. 

For the pictures this year, some had Abby's black leotard in them and others had her Princess dress-up slippers.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

He Still Knows Her

The girls were having pictures taken on Thursday so I had to find something of Abby's to put in the pictures too.  As I went into her room, JackJack came running in with me.  I have not let him in her room in about a year because the one and only time he was in there, he became sick and depressed for weeks afterwards.  I tried to send him right back out, but he ran and hid under her bed.  After I had found things for pictures, I still could not get him to come out and decided to just leave him for a little while.  When I went back in, I found him up on her bed, nose pressed to her pillow, kneading it and purring loudly.  Of course this brought me to tears.  He only does the kneading when he curls up on my stomach, so I knew he still knew his girl.  I scooped him up, carried him out, and closed the door.  As I gave him loves, he pushed away wanting down.  He went back to her door, stretched up, and started rattling the doorknob, yowling.  He wanted back in.  My heart just broke.   

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wishful Thinking

Each year I think the same thing ~

Maybe this will be the year the Holidays get easier. 
Maybe hearing the Christmas music won't phase me this time. 
Maybe all the lights will look cheery. 
Maybe I will enjoy shopping. 
Maybe pulling out the trees at home won't start the restless nights and the holiday blahs. 
Maybe we will put all the ornaments on the trees and decorate the whole house again. 
Maybe my heart will be filled with only joy and no sadness. 
Maybe this year I will want to do things instead of feeling like they are forced.
Maybe I can love Christmas again finally the way I used to.
Maybe.  Just maybe.
But, I guess I can hope for next year. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

'Tis The Season

Halloween is always the start of the rough road for me, but this year it seemed to hit a little sooner.  With health issues knocking me down and keeping me from doing much for weeks, along with a few other events, the thoughts of the holidays and family time came sooner.  My little girl has been in the front of my mind lots lately.  It was great that we had our support group meeting this past weekend about the holidays.  For some reason, we didn't get the pumpkins carved this year and I hope that is not a sign of what is to come for us throughout the season.  It is always bittersweet to welcome new families to group as we know their loss and the days they have ahead of themselves, but we are there to provide support for each other and hopefully make some things easier for them by sharing our experiences.  

The girls were in their groups as well doing their own group therapy as well.  Mady's group spent time talking about angels among other things.  Seeing her papers and writings brought me to tears with her thoughts and feelings written down.  One line asked what you thought your loved one would say in a return letter.  Her response, "I miss you. Say Hi to Mommy."  Elly's group is still more play therapy, but I know Abby has been on her mind lately too.  She has taken to praying little prayers throughout the day.  She prays, "God and Jesus, Please take care of my sister Abby.  And Granny.  And Wendy.  And our dog Molly.  Amen"    

Birthday Gifts in Rememberance

We recently received a very touching donation.  The parents of Parker Wilson, who passed away August 1st, requested donations for the Foundation for his birthday as they celebrated his life on September 29th.  We received over 90 stuffed animals and 90 coloring books to share with children in the hospitals.  

Parker J. Wilson

"He was an amazing little boy. Always happy and with a big smile on his face.  We hope these donations will help other kids smile.  Thank you for the work you do!"

He sounds like another little angel I know.    

Thank you to all who donated these special gifts in memory of Parker.  We will include an extra card that tells each one donated in his memory. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Docudrama 2011

On Tuesday I was able to speak at the docudrama for local area high school sophomores. This is the program that re-enacts an accident due to impaired driving followed by videos and speakers to help bring the issue home with the young drivers.  Even though I have been battling some health issues, I did not want to cancel.  If our story touches just one of the students there, making them think twice before a decision is made, then all my tears are worth it.  Here is a link to the article in the local paper ~

Also, a big thank you to my moral support that came with me that day.

Monday, September 12, 2011

2011 Memorial Service

Sunday was the annual Celebration of Life Memorial Service for children that have passed away at Childrens Mercy Hospital.  Despite becoming ill that morning, we went to the ceremony.  

The girls left messages for Abby on butterflies and placed them on the rememberance tree.

"When you must be patient
In loss or defeat
Or the sorrow that life sometimes brings,
Remember - in time,
From a plain, brown cocoon
Comes the beauty of
Butterfly wings."

This year's speaker was a gentleman that works at CMH who lost his sister to cancer 25 years ago to cancer when he was only 4.  One of my fears has always been that Mady would forget things about her sister.  At only 6, I was not sure how much her mind would retain from their years together, but listening to him speak, some of my fears and worries were put to rest.  He sitll thinks of his sister every day and was choked up telling his story this many years later.  I am now confident Mady will keep at least some special memories.

This year's Litany of Remembrance~
We come today to remember our children and to face the mysteries of life and death.

As cocoons are transformed into butterflies, seeds into beautiful flowers, we, too, have been transformed by the lives of the children we are here to honor.

Their lives were far too brief, our time with them too short, but we give thanks for the gift of each hour, day, or year we had to know and love them.

Through our children, we have experienced the bittersweet mixture of joy and sorrow, laughter and tears.  In these extremes, we have experienced grace and discovered new dimensions of love, hope and life.

Through these children, we are brought together in the fellowship of those who know the tension between intense love and the pain of suffering.

We are what we are today because we have dared to love these children, whose lives ended too soon.  We are forever changed and blessed by the love we have shared with them.  May we together give thanks for our children, as we remember them and entrust them to the embrace of God's eternal love.

Of course the girls' favorite part is the butterfly release. 

Trade Your Skin

Who knew you'd trade your tender skin
For something finer, something thin?
An iridescent new blue suit,
to wear when sipping sour fruit.
Who knew you'd transform, by and by
from human form to butterfly?
With evyes that hide beneath your wings,
you watch on high for heavn'ly things.
Who knew you'd be an inscet fair,
and waft away on misty air?
Then pause and warm your wings in the sun.
You knew, my darling. You're the one.
~by Ann Ingalls

Monday, September 5, 2011

Celebration Photos

This post is a hodge podge of pictures from the Celebration since I wanted to get them posted and be able to share other things without taking up more posts for the pictures.

The dunk tank is always super popular with the kids and we really appreciate the guys that volunteer to get wet for the cause.

This year our petting zoo was provided by area FFA students.  The kids loved all the animals that were brought.

One of the new additions this year was the wacky trikes ride.  The kids rode adult size tricycles paired with "goofy goggles" that made navigating the cones with their drunken effect. 

This year we added a high striker and a kiddie striker.  It was a great test of strength for young and old both.

Homemade ice cream was made by this large mixer.

The balloon pop was another fun addition.  Kids raced to see who could inflate their balloon enough to make them pop first.

Balloon animals!

The Sunscreen Station was provided by the Halley family in memory of Brian.  We were grateful to have it again this year, especially since the weather turned from cloudy and rainy that morning to sunny before the event was over.

Kids kept the Barrel Train busy the whole day.

Super popular with both older and younger kids was the new Tubs Of Fun ride. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Another Speech

Today I spoke to a class of offenders at the Treatment Center.  I seemed to be weepier through it than usual.  I think it was because of the recent start of school along with the fact that it had been several months since I had spoke.  The class was very quiet after my presentation, but after several minutes they finally asked questions and opened up with comments.  Hopefully the silence meant I touched some of them. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

MTN Donor Family Picnic

Saturday we attended Midwest Transplant Network's organ donor family picnic at Faulkner's Ranch in Kansas City.  The girls had a great time with all the activities there and I was able to reconnect with some donor families I had not seen for a couple of years.

Elly loved all the animals in the petting zoo, even though she was a bit intimidated by the buffalo and Brahma bull at first.

While waiting for some of the festivities to begin, we played inside on the fun rocking horses and cows.

The girls got a kick out of milking the cow.

They loved watching the goats play on the goat climb.  We bought some feed and they sent it up to the top to make the goats climb up their playground.

Duck races played with water pumps.

Horse swings!

Elly was thrilled to be able to play on a playground since ours is in a pile.

Horse rides were a hit with the girls.  They rode several times.

We tried cane pole fishing, but the girls had trouble with there being no reel. 

Bounce house fun for Elly.

Doug became Elly's playmate for the day.  He pushed her on the swings, played duck races, and chased after her.  I was excited that Doug and Julie were able to attend since we had not been able to get together since our Washington DC trip.

I was glad I let Doug step in for me to play the water balloon toss in the second round with Mady since it ended up being a fight at the end.  Both came back wet.

Girls vs boys at tug of war.

Musical chairs was followed by a game of limbo which Elly was proud to win by simply duck walking under the bar.

It was great to spend the day with other families like ours.  Elly asked lots of questions from people there since she is trying to process death in her little mind.  

The picnic shirts had a great quote on the back ~  "Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves." James Matthew Barrie