Saturday, December 29, 2012

Season 6 Over

Holiday number 6 is over.  The trees are torn down and put away.  It seems like I used the avoidance tactic for the most part this year.  I could not bring myself to take the tree to the cemetery, so Marc and the girls did it.  I held off a good two weeks after the girls started asking before I put the trees up.  The shopping and wrapping were done just days before Christmas.  But Santa still remembered to leave stuffed animals under the Abby Tree.

So now it's on to New Year's and I am super excited that one of our friends from our CMH support group will be riding on this year's Donate Life America float in honor and memory of her daughter.  I asked her to find Abby's flower that we have placed on the float and be the one to put it in its place for us.    


media center

Donor Mother
Age 45 ~ Independence, MO
Business Owner and Executive Director,
Blair's Foster Socks Foundation
Sponsored by Cytonet
in partnership with Midwest Transplant Network

Michele Shanahan DeMoss knew her daughter Blair didn't have a problem with teddy bears. Blair's problem was babies' cold, bare feet. Each time a foster child came into her family's care, Blair asked, "Why do they always have stuffed animals, but no one can find them socks?" Determined to fix the problem, 11-year-old Blair envisioned Foster Socks, a program to provide socks to foster and homeless children. Blair's dream was dashed when she was fatally shot by a nearby Fourth of July reveler, but Foster Socks did not die with Blair, who gave new life to at least six people as a donor. "She would have gotten this done, "said Michele. "Now it's up to us."

Michele's Story
Michele Shanahan DeMoss knew her daughter Blair Michaela Shanahan Lane didn't have a problem with teddy bears. Blair's problem was babies with cold, bare feet. Each time a new foster child was given to her family's care, Blair asked the same question: "Why do foster kids always show up with stuffed animals, but no one can find them socks?"
That was Blair: pragmatic, compassionate, and determined to fix the problem. Her solution was Foster Socks, a program dedicated to providing socks to foster and homeless children that she hoped to launch as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project.
While most girls complete their Gold Award projects as juniors or seniors in high school, Blair had a different sense of urgency. Though not yet a sixth grader, she was already filling journals with ideas and project plans for Foster Socks. She couldn't get warm socks to foster and homeless kids soon enough. Sadly, her dream was dashed before it got started.
Celebrating the Fourth of July, 2011, 11-year-old Blair was enjoying the traditional back yard holiday festivities she had since she was two years old at a family home in Kansas City, Mo. Suddenly, Blair collapsed; she had been shot by a holiday reveler firing a gun from nearby.
Hundreds of people visited Blair in the hospital, friends, family, civic leaders, pastors. Michele was stunned at how many people her daughter had touched, and she was touched by their words. "Her friends' parents told me their kids wanted to be like her. And so many people mentioned that Blair knew how to live as a good Christian," said Michele. "Her understanding and devotion to that was not about religion. She went to the church nearly every week, but it was never about the building."
Blair died the next day, July fifth. She never gave socks to homeless children, but as an organ donor, she may have given new life to at least six people between the ages of six and 60. And, if Michele has anything to do with it, Foster Socks will not die with Blair. "Blair radiated the love and presence of God. She would have gotten this done, "said Michele. "Now it's up to us."

Please take the time to read the rest of the float riders' stories and the floragraph stories.  Each one is an amazing gift that changed another life.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Ramblings

Christmas is all but here and it has been a struggle like usual for me. 

It started the day before Thanksgiving for me as I ran to Walmart to grab a birthday gift.  I was standing in the toy aisle, looking at all the boy toys when I began to notice the holiday songs and the Christmas decor.  My chest started to tighten and the anxiety started to flow.  I made up my mind rather quickly about what I would be purchasing and made my exit. 

The next evening after our family dinner, our evening plans were made.  It was decided my sisters were taking the kids to see two different movies and my Mom and I would try to make a couple of purchases during the sales.  I knew from the day before that I might not be able to handle the store, but we would give it a try.  Unfortunately my prediction was correct and I only lasted about 10 minutes in the store before I was calling my Mom to tell her it was just too much.  I could feel the panic attack starting and knew I had to leave before it progressed any further.

Instead I have been online shopping more this year and it has really helping me in dealing with the holidays by avoiding the stores as much as I can. 

We also finally gave in and put the trees all up in one day last weekend so it was all over at once. 

Pictures are done and we had family ones done too this year. 

We used Abby's little red leather purse she had gotten for Christmas her last year with us to the pictures this year. 

Here is a glimpse at how our Christmas cards are this year. (Hopefully I get them mailed.)
Wishing you ~


& Joy
And the good thing is there is just a week left and I can be done for another year. 

(And yes, I am doing my best to avoid the recent tragedy in the news because it just brings too many emotions back up for me.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Up is Lost


Has anyone seen it? 

I have just felt so overwhelmed lately that I have felt like I have been struggling to even know which way is up.  (Hopefully that makes sense)   I have just been wanting to curl up and cry.  I have not quite been able to put my finger on the cause....  It is likely so many things adding up which these months are good for.  The talk of Christmas.  The decorations out in the stores.  The music playing already.  The emails that have been flooding my inbox advertising all the big sales.  It all makes me miss my little girl so much and the void feels greater during the holidays.  How I wish that sometimes I can just hide away until the chaos is over.  

The good thing is that I have made it a week without my facade crumbling in public.  Support group last weekend was such a blessing.  I cried more there this time than I had in quite some time.  I left exhausted and drained, but feeling better after sharing with others who are experiencing the same things.  For five years we have been going to these meetings.  Five years and I still don't know when the holidays will be filled with only joy again.  Five years and I still look forward to each group meeting for some sort of healing.  

Both girls made memory rocks in their groups.  Elly also made a doll and filled a glove with play dough, both of which were to help with their feelings.  There were enough older siblings that Mady was able to be broke out into that group which she really enjoys.    

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Bit of Hodge Podge

We finally managed to carve our jack-o-lanterns the day before Halloween and of course we had to make three.  We have to make a letter A for our Abrielle. The girls did great cleaning Abby's out and helping carve it.
Elly wanted to hold Abby's little pumpkin (the one I still have not taken to the cemetery) for the picture.

I need to send out some thanks for some recent donation. 
  • Thanks to the Heart of American Tractor Cruise for riding for our cause and donating to the Foundation.
  • Thanks to Mitch Meyers for sharing your birthday gifts with us.
  • Thanks to Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society for collecting items for Abby's Hugs and continuing to take care of the Clarinda program.

Friday, November 9, 2012

It Was Just Too Much

My strength gave way today and the tears fell despite my best efforts.  It was just too in my face and I had no distractions.  I apologize to those of you that saw me crumble as I really do try to keep that to the privacy of home.  And I thank those of you that were there for support in one way or another.  Your caring and understanding mean the world to me during those tough times. 

It was just a Veteran's Day assembly at school and it should have been just that for me too.  Instead, after we were seated with our students and formalities over, the fourth grade class began their songs.  I fought through tears welling up on the first song and was not able to keep them from spilling over by the second song.  I had to excuse myself and take some time to compose myself.  I thought I had myself under control, but only lasted maybe another two minutes before it became too much for me again.  All I could see on the stage were Abby's friends and classmates.  The huge part of my life missing from me was all I could see. 

I really think it had been building up for too long without me expressing anything.  The start of the holiday season always pulls me down and this year I thought I could push the tears aside.  I have had guilt building up for weeks because I have not been able to go to the cemetery.  I have not taken her the pumpkin we picked out for her the first week of October.  I could not get pumpkins carved for the other girls until the 30th.  I have just felt some things spiraling.

I have been hoping that working at the school and mainly with the preschoolers would help me heal some and maybe fill in a little spot in that gaping hole I have.  And some days it does.  They bring me joy and I love each one of them, but there are times that I can't help but think, "that was Abby's cubby,"  "I remember seeing Abby sit at the yellow table eating her snack," " I brought her here just five years ago." 

But, Tuesday is another day at school and I will have my emotions back in check.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Long Time Ago

At the beginning of the year Elly had to take items and pictures that were about her to school.  Her turn to share these things was last week. As we were waiting to pick up Mady from school, I saw the bag of items in her backpack.  We went through them one by one and she told me what she said about them and what her friends thought about them.  Of course there was a picture of Abby included.  When we got to it I continued the same as I had the others.  Here is how our conversation went...

I told my friends that that is my sister Abby, but she died a long time ago in a car crash. 

It was not that long ago but you were still in my tummy, almost ready to come out.

Oh.  (long pause) Did Mady get died too?

No.  Mady is still here with us.

Oh.  Why did Abby get died?

She was hurt really bad and the doctors could not fix her.  

Oh.  Why did you want to have a car crash?

Mommy did not want to have a car crash.  It was an accident. 

Later in the evening when I was taking her into dance, I pointed out the small wooden cross on the roadside to her, telling her that was where the accident happened.  

What is the cross for?

Just so people will remember.

Remember you had a car crash?

No.  To remember Abby.

I know to a five year old, five years is a long time, but the tears still flow like it isn't. 

I see Abby's classmates at school every day.  Fourth graders.  I just can't believe that is how big my little girl would be.  One day it was the mere comment that fourth grade had a big class that brought tears to my eyes with the thought that they are missing one.     

Sunday, September 9, 2012

2012 Memorial Service

Today was the Children's Mercy Hospital Celebration of Life Memorial Service.  We have attended every year since we lost Abby and I still cry every year. 

The girls left messages for Abby on the tree again this year.

Elly wrote out her own message this year.
It says I (heart) you Abby, in a mixed up order.
A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam
And for a brief moment its glory and beauty belong to our world.
But then it flies on again.
And though we wished it could have stayed, we feel lucky to have seen it.
This year the speakers were parents that we know from our support group.  They spoke about their twin son they lost to CDH after 35 days. 
In their name
Who are gone
These young hearts
These flawless souls
In their name
Let our lives grow
~Sascha Wagner
The girls always look forward to the butterfly release and this year we released monarchs instead of painted ladies. 

The sky was filled with all the beautiful butterflies.
Days like these bring my grief to the front, but when I am surrounded by families that are experiencing the same thing, there is no reason to hide it.  Elly was concerned about me and the fact that I was crying. I explained it was just because I was really missing Abby.  So she snuggled up close, took my Kleenex, wiped my eyes and soon had a few tears of her own.   

Monday, May 21, 2012

Celebration Approaching!

The Celebration is fast approaching!  I hope your calendars are marked for the fun family event.  

Celebration of Children
Sunday, June, 3rd
Beal Park

Telling Others

I have had several speaking engagements the last few weeks and have shared our story and information about the Foundation to different groups. 

I spoke at the tree planting ceremony for Crime Victims Week at Mozingo again this year about the Foundation.  There was a special remembrance this year for the ten year anniversary of the Conception Abbey shooting.  I listened to Father Riechart talk about the tragedy and the trials he still faces in daily life.  Ten years and the memories are still fresh for him, as I know they still will be for me.  But he stated that he does not live his life in fear as he continues on with his mission.  After the ceremony, I was approached about sharing our story across the state of Missouri.  Every two years the video that is shown for education by the highway patrol on impaired driving is reproduced and they would like for us to be a part of it this year.  I think it would be amazing if our little girl could touch that many lives.

The following morning I spoke to the local Optimist club about the Foundation and how we help children in the community.  Several members were unaware of the many facets of the Foundation.  I was contacted this week that they decided to make a donation to the Foundation!  

I was invited to speak at the Mother Daughter Banquet at Parnell Methodist Church the first week in May.  It was a wonderful surprise to see all the items that had been brought for donations for the Foundation!  I was not expecting that at all.  I started off with one of my speeches, but then evolved into more of a conversation with the ladies.  It was a great setting and we discussed everything from the Foundation to grieving the loss of a child to organ donation.  I was glad they invited me for the event.

Last week I spoke at the Treatment Center to the ICVC class.  I am amazed how much our story touches these men each time I tell it.  I always receive many comments thanking me for coming and how I have helped open their eyes to what their lifestyles cause.  One man did not understand the ripple effect they talk about in class until after I told our story.       

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Give The Gift Of Life

April is National Donate Life Month.

I know many of you have heard our story of donation, but it is something we feel strongly about.  I had always made it known that I wanted to be an organ donor if anything should happen to me.  I had my license signed and told family my wishes.  I just never imagined it would be a decision I would be making for my 3 year old instead.  No one likes to think about their own death, much less that of their own child, but for us it was the easiest decision of the day.  As soon as I arrived at CMH, a representative from Midwest Transplant Network was there to begin the process of sharing our daughter's life with others.  As she went through the list of what organs and tissues we would be willing to give, marking yes beside each one for us, I paused at the corneas.  Her eyes.  Her beautiful brown eyes.  That one was difficult, but we said yes hoping they would allow someone else to see the world the way she did.  It was soon after the papers were finished that it was shared with us they knew where her liver would be going.  It was going to bring new life to a little two year old boy in the same hospital.  It was a moment of happiness knowing she was going to be helping another child.  It was the next day that we received a phone call telling us Abby's kidneys were able to bring new life to a woman in her 30s.  We had hoped that more organs would be able to be used, but due to the clotting agents and medications, the others were not.  Organ donation has been the bright spots in the tragedy of losing our little girl.  We hope that everyone will think about becoming a donor, a hero, and save lives.   

Here is a link to other families stories on donation

And a link to stories of recipients

Baby Steps

It seems strange to say that there are moments when I feel like I am finally beginning to heal because I honestly did not think it would ever happen.  I never thought I could have times when the tears would dry up and I could just enjoy being a Mom to my other two girls, but I have experienced a few.  I noticed that since Elly had reached age 4 and is approaching age 5, I had started grieving the things I have not gotten to experience with Abby.  It was difficult filling out the Kindergarten papers knowing I never got to send Abrielle, but I kept the tears hidden.  It was hard taking Elly to get her ears pierced knowing that Abby never was able to and with the memories of Mady having hers filling my head.  (Abby kept trying to escape that day while my focus was on her big sister.  She had other things she wanted to go see and do.)  But there were no tears from me.  

We finally let Mady have a slumber party for her birthday again which had not been done since she turned 6 in Kindergarten.  It was her last birthday with her sister here.  This year it was Elly running around trying to be a big girl instead of Abby.  We even did some of the same things ~ roasting marshmallows and making smores in the fire. But there were no tears, just talks about the memories of the last time while we watched all the girls enjoy the night.  

Last weekend was dance recital and this was the first time I made it through the entire day without any tears.  Abby was in my thoughts as I helped Elly prepare for her dances and as I watched all the little girls on stage, but no tears, just memories.

I really hope this is a healing trend and that I can begin to experience more things without the tears.  I know the memories will always be there but hopefully I can squelch the tears a little more often now.      

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Missing Her

Tears stream down my face today as I miss my little Abrielle so much more today.  But there are moments the tears just won't flow as it is my heart that is really crying.  The pain I feel on this day has not lessened yet and it seems almost unreal for me to say I have been without her for 5 years now.

Five years.

One thousand, eight hundred, and twenty five days since my last kisses.  My last I love yous.  My last snuggles. My last moments shared with my Abrielle.

Today is the day I cannot seem to keep my emotions hidden behind my smiling mask.  Today is the day it takes all my energy just to leave the bed.  Today is the day that the sun does not shine in my life.  Today is the day the pain of that tragic day cannot be squelched.  Today is the day spent reliving the nightmare that has become the normal part of our life.  Today I cannot pretend the pain does not exist.  Today is the day I wish could change time to fix.  Today life does not just go on for me.  It comes to a screeching halt as it did five years ago.  The sounds, the smells, the sights of that day flood my thoughts today as there is no way to avoid remembering what happened on this day that changed our lives forever.  

The horrific sound of the impact of the vehicles.
The sudden pressure and pain I felt in my body.
The blackness.
The hissing and dripping sounds.
Mady's screams.
The "please wake me up from this bad dream" feeling.
The sight of my little girl's broken body.
The panic.
The screaming for Abby to breathe.
The sirens.

The overwhelming sense of peace.  (I have never shared this on here before)   I was screaming hysterically, "God, NO!  No, no, no.  Please!" as Abby stopped breathing.  I had lifted her shirt to watch for signs but there was stillness.  It was then that this sense of peace and comfort came over me.  It was then that I heard "It's going to be okay" just as plain as if there was someone standing beside me speaking those words.  It was then my hysteria stopped and I became unreasonably calm throughout the rest of the day.  It was then that Abby started breathing again. 

Five years and the pain and memories are just as vivid. 

There is a void in my heart that cannot be filled and today it feeling like a gaping hole.

I love you and miss you Abrielle! 


Friday, March 2, 2012

Clarinda Hugs

We have expanded again!  I am super excited to let everyone know that we, in working with a sorority at Iowa Western, have expanded to Clarinda Regional Medical Center!  At the end of January we made our first donation for the hospital.  We sent 300 animals and 100 coloring books, crayons, etc to the group for them to deliver to the hospital as they are needed.  Right now the best estimate is that they will need around 50 animals a month.  I am very thankful for the sorority for managing this for us and am happy to share Abby's Hugs with another hospital!

Catch up Post

Where have I been?  It's been 2 months without a post?  I hope everyone out there has not given up on the site!  The Holidays take a huge toll on me and then the computer hard drive crashed requiring it to be in for repair yet again.  (One more time and the lemon clause gets us a new one so hopefully our troubles will be over then.)  So let's catch up, shall we. 

Santa, of course, filled the bottom of Abby's tree with stuffed animals for the Foundation.  (photo program not reinstalled yet so I can't share)

Mandy Scott's class at Avenue City collected donations at Christmas time to share with us.  We really loved getting the huge boxes full again this year!  Thanks so much!

Eugene Field's Preschool classes just concluded their donation drive throughout the month of February with lots of needed things given.  Thanks Preschoolers!

A BIG thank you to our Maryville Walmart as we picked up over 200 animals last week!  They were kind enough to donate all the stuffed animals left from Valentine's to us!  It was very appreciated!

A dodge ball tournament is being held on March 13th by MHS National Honor Society at the high school.  The proceeds benefit the Foundation.

I hope everyone has their calendars marked for June 3rd!  That is when this year's Celebration will be held. 

Our next bagging and meeting will be Saturday, March 24th at 7 pm at our house.  We have lots to catch up on!