Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Memorial Service 2013

In their name
Who are gone
These young hearts
These flawless souls
In their name
Let our lives grow
~Sascha Wagner

We attended the Celebration of Life Memorial Service on September 15th in memory of Abrielle and other children who passed at Children's Mercy.  The girls enjoy how they can be included in the ceremony and that they get to remember their sister too.

They made leaves for the memorial tree.

Litany of Remembrance
As we gather, let us lift our voices!
Our voices speak the names of our beloved children, who have touched our lives and our hearts.
Remembering their names together we lift our voices in grief,
For we share the common bond ~ the experience of loving a child who has died.
Our voices cry out with a strange mixture of tears and laughter,
For we have experienced the tension between joy and sorrow, deep love and suffering.
As we remember our children, we give voice to both grief and hope,
For even as we grieve, we are transformed by the power of love.
Our voices utter prayers for comfort and peace.
Prayers that weave the names and memories of our children into the fiber of our being and fill us with the courage to face each new day open to the mysteries of life.
In one voice,
We give thanks for our children.
(written by Rev. Claudia Ricks Hubbard)

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 

We also each receive a small heart shaped stone with an impression of a butterfly in it and a magnet.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Summer of Missing Her

Summer is all but over with school starting next week and I have missed my Abby all summer. 

She would have turned ten years old on June 9th and it was a day of tears for me. Ten years old. Ten. But she will forever be almost four. 

Then I had my sweet Elly with her innocent comments. 
"Mommy I wish Abby didn't die so I would have someone to play with.  Mady doesn't like to play with me very much."  
"Mommy how bout you have another baby and we can name it Abby so we will have an Abby again." 
"Mommy why did Abby have to die? You didn't get died and neither did Sissy. I wanted another sister."

I am sure you also noticed that we did not have the Celebration this year. We were sad to make this decision, but are hoping to be back next year with the family fun.  Not having this in no way means we are not continuing with the Foundation. Abby's Hugs is going strong! So continue to think of us for your donations. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Progress Finally

As many of you know, this has lived in my dining room for 6 years ~

~three boxes of newspapers, bills, and correspondence. I know I have mentioned in a post before my struggle to deal with these items multiple times, but I had not been able to handle the emotions.  I have started and stopped, moved the boxes around, and whatever else to avoid the project altogether. 
For some reason yesterday I decided it was time.  Time to empty them out.  Time to clean out the clutter so it was no longer looming in the dining room every time I walked through.  I am not sure I realized what I was getting myself into though.  I jumped in with the box of newspapers, cutting out the whole page where any article (about the Foundation, court proceedings, organ donation, or the accident) was.  I did pretty good for quite a while since most of the recent papers were about Foundation happenings.  Unfortunately the further down I got, the harder it became.  I had to force myself just to find what pertained to my search and not read or look at the pictures.  The one that really caught me off guard was a short column that had Abrielle Lauryn Neff in bold letters centered above more writing underneath.  I thought, "Oh, wow.  Abby's birth announcement.  Why do I have that in here?"  That's when the tears started flowing heavily.  It was under the heading of Services Held.  I took a deep breath noticing the bottom of the box was in sight and tried to trudge on.  I cried through finding her obituary, drawings and letters from her friends and cousins, pictures of her smiling face, but then I saw a picture of the accident scene.  I left the pile on the floor and walked away.  I did not sleep well last night knowing what was on my agenda for today. 
I was so grateful when my Mom called to see what I was doing.  As you know I don't ask for help, but she knew I needed it and came out.  I am pleased to say that we were able to make huge headway.  While the job is not totally finished, the box is empty, the file box filled with documents we have to keep for a few more years is tucked away, and the picnic basket is almost empty.  We clipped articles, sprayed them with preservation spray, and put them into binders for us to keep until it became too much for me.  Then Mom piled them up and said she was taking them home to do.  I love her! 
Just clearing that much out has felt like a weight lifted.  It was almost like Abby was prodding me along these last two days saying, "OK Mommy.  It's time to get this stuff done."  Granted I will still have to put them in order and a few other things that I am sure will bring more tears, but the boxes of newspapers are gone!
On another note, I wanted to share the sentiment I sent home with the preschoolers this year.
Every year we give the Preschool class
a small stuffed animal from the Abrielle 
Neff Foundation as a gift and a way of
saying “Thank you” to the kids for the                                   
things they have done to help us                                             
(planting Abby’s Garden at the school                                   
and bringing donations).   This year I have                           
had the special treat of working with your                           
child and have enjoyed it immensely.                                     
Their love, joy, and childhood innocence                             
have helped fill a void in my life.  So I                                     
 must say “Thank you.” also.  Thank you                                    
for sharing your child with me.                                                  
Mrs. Neff

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Shared Words

This was shared on an internet site I am a part of and I had to share it here because I found it to be so true.

I am wearing a pair of shoes. They are ugly shoes. Uncomfortable shoes. I hate my shoes. Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair. Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.. Yet, I continue to wear them. I get funny looks wearing these shoes. They are looks of sympathy. I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs. They never talk about my shoes. To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable. To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them. But, once you put them on, you can never take them off. 

I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes. There are many pairs in this world. Some women are like me and ache daily as they try to walk in them. Some have learned how to walk in them so that they don't hurt quite so much. Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt. No woman deserves to wear these shoes. Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman. These shoes have given me the strength to face anything. They have made me who I am.. I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Hard Day

When does it get easier? 

I so wish I had the answer to that question I am always asking myself.  I still have times when the grief floods with me with tears.  Today has been one of them.  Actually, this whole week has been draining.  Somehow, whether I am looking at the calendar or not, I know what day is approaching.  The sleepless nights start.  The headaches, upset stomachs, and the "I don't want to get out of bed" days lead up to the day that I relive.

Yesterday were the Easter parties at school which carry so many hard memories for me.  I held myself together until the end of the day when I was able to cry with friends.    

Today Elly kept asking me to push her on the swing outside.  All I could do was cry.  Six years ago that is how I spent my last evening with Abrielle.  It was hard but I did finally agree to swing.  That was when the next set of tears began to flow.  She put on her cowgirl boots and ran out the door.  All I could see was my Abby pulling on her cowgirl boots six years ago to help her Daddy outside while I was making supper. 

So many flashbacks.  So many tears.  I miss my little girl.  My heart is breaking and I am having such a hard time with my emotions today knowing what tomorrow is ~ the day we lost our Abrielle.    


Friday, January 4, 2013

Speech Given

On Wednesday I spoke to a new class at the Treatment Center.  I was actually a little nervous because it had been about six months since I had talked anywhere.  I had planned on updating the speech I give, but as I sat down to do that, I was having a difficult time and gave up.  I am sure it was because I had just gotten through the holidays and decided that it would be fine the way it was since this group had not heard it.  This group had about 17 offenders and most sat very quietly while I talked.  A few wiped their eyes.  I felt I did pretty well and only shed tears a few times, but when I finished I really wondered how I did since I was met by stares and silence.  It took them a few minutes before they asked any questions or made any comments.  I was actually surprised that the ones that are normally asked were not and that only a few were asked.  Usually I spend about 20 to 30 minutes talking after I finish my speech, but this time it was maybe 10 to 15.  I was really beginning to wonder if I had made any impression at all but then as they were dismissed for break, each one lined up to shake my hand and thank me for sharing my story.  My goal each time is to reach just one to make my tears worth it, but I sincerely felt I touched them all in this class. 

In The Paper

This was printed after the tragedy in Newtown and so much of it just seemed to hit home with me so I wanted to share~

By Ann Hood — Special To The Washington Post

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — We are stunned. We are outraged. As a nation, we are questioning laws on gun control, questioning how such a thing can happen. These are all appropriate responses to the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. But there is a repercussion to all this that will continue long after laws are changed and life, unbelievably, gets back to normal: the grief of the parents of the 20 children killed. How many times have I heard that this is a parent's worst nightmare? As someone who has lived the nightmare of losing a child, I know that the enormous hole left behind remains forever.

My daughter, Grace, was not killed by a gun. She died suddenly at age 5 from a virulent form of strep. As I stood stunned in a church at her memorial, one of the hardest things I heard someone say was, “I'm going to go home and hug my child a little tighter.” Well, good for you, I thought. I'm going to go home and scream.

What can be said in light of such grief? What can you do? The problem is that no one can give the parents what they want most: their child. Long after the memorials fade and the casseroles stop coming, that child is still dead, and those parents are still grieving.

I offer here what I have learned about grief in the 10 years since my Gracie died:

I learned that platitudes don't work. Time doesn't heal. She is not in a better place. God does give us more than we can bear sometimes. I have learned that there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words. I have learned that even in the face of loss, clothes still get dirty and bills still need to get paid. Friends who laundered our socks and answered our e-mails, who mowed our lawn and put gas in our cars, helped us — a lot. The friend who came one afternoon and went through Grace's backpack, carefully storing her kindergarten workbook and papers, hanging her art on the refrigerator and her raincoat on its hook in the mudroom, had more courage than the ones who told me to call anytime.

Some friends sat with me day after day, week after week and, yes, month after month, and let me talk while they listened. I told the story of Grace's last day over and over, as if by telling it I could make sense of what had happened to her, to us. But there is no sense to be made of such tragedy, and when I realized that, they let me wail and bang my fists and curse.

As time passes, people return to their ordinary lives, while grieving parents no longer have ordinary lives. They are redefining themselves, and they are at a loss at how to move forward. There is a woman who still sends me a card on Grace's birthday and every Mother's Day, who sent cards weekly for more than a year, a lifeline to a grieving mother. The people who even now, a decade later, still say Grace's name, still comment on her quirky style and artistic talents and love of the Beatles, continue to help me through my days, simply by remembering her.

How easy it is to look away from grief, as if it might be contagious, or too frightening to face. But the Newtown parents have a difficult, lifelong journey through grief ahead of them. Somehow, the seasons will change, the anniversaries will stack up one after the other. They will, unbelievably, smile again. They will make dinner and change jobs and buy clothes and celebrate and travel. They will go on. But there will always, always, be this grief, softened and dulled but present every minute of every day.

Do not forget that. Look them in the eye. Take them in your arms, and do not let them go
Read more here: http://www.heraldonline.com/2012/12/23/4505027/no-time-does-not-heal-all-wounds.html#storylink=cpy