Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fragile Resolutions...

This is our temporary home, it's not where we belong
Windows and rooms that we're passing through
This is just a stop on the way to where we're going
I'm not afraid because I know this is our temporary home..
Carrie Underwood~ Temporary Home

A Mother's reflection of 2009:

Life is good for one moment. In that moment all is right with the world, everyone is healthy, safe and happy. Hold on to those moments because things will come that will shake your world to the very foundation.

Heather had a survivor's personality. You know, those people in ship wrecks, plane crashes and concentration camps who fight to survive. She rolled with the punches, took everything that came her way, tried with all her might to overcome impossible odds a fighter to the very end and who's story inspire us.

I understand even better what it is to be willing to give up everything to save your child's life. Belongings, money, home, career, personal time, privacy, sleep, freedom, security and even my own life. Though I am willing to give up everything it is not enough to save, my baby, the one I love.

That the hardships of the past year and a half has taken a toll on my entire family. We are fractured, fragile and we are learning how to live as a family again without Heather. A frightened shadow of what we once were, trying to live a new life.

That God sends certain people into our lives when we need them most. Some become lifelong friends; some are those who we've lost touch with over the years and suddenly re-appear; a few were there in the moment of need and then move on just as quickly. Sometimes it is an encouraging word; through text or email, or simply knowing that someone, anyone cares at critical points. A caring gesture, a thought or word, or some small random act of kindness can carry tremendous weight.
video
Heather at Varsity USA 2002. A youth event where teens from all
over the country come to Chicago to compete in Bible Quizzing,
Talent and Olympics. For the piano competition the piece has to
be 8-10 minutes long, fully memorized and be from an approved
list of songs. Heather chose "When I Survey". This is a sample of
her piano ability. This is before she was really good on the piano..

What 2010 brings:
2010 brings the memories of the final few weeks of Heather being alive.
2010 brings a whole year since I heard Heather's voice or hugged her.
2010 brings a whole year of trying to move forward without Heather.
2010 brings Heather further in the past.
2010 brings a year that has lasted an eternity....

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas My Angel...

When the stockings are hung,
And Silent Night has been sung,
And Christmas is finally here,
It won't be the same this year.
Her favorite time of year of was always Christmas,
It's help me learn what Christmas really means...
Vince Gill~written for his brother Bob that died

Thought that maybe you might like a glimpse at what Christmas Eve in the Coombe household looked like in 2002. We set the video camera up and just turned it on to record everything. Hope you enjoy a little of holidays past...
MERRY CHRISTMAS...
video
The girls opening presents. Jenn is by the couch,
Heather by the TV and Wendy in the middle.


video
The bear that Heather is holding at the end is a
replacement for Edison that she took from me.
She found it at Hallmark and did not have enough money
to buy him. A lady shopping heard her and told
Heather that a gift to her momy was the
most important gift and gave her the money
she needed to buy the bear.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Another Hour, Another Day, Another Week...

Another hour, another day, another week, soon another month...It seems to matter little how much time is put between us for the haunting void that is her absence remains our constant companion, and there is little we can do, no place we can go, and nothing that we see which will ever fill the chasm in our hearts. I close my eyes to see you everywhere, and at times I can hear your voice ~ a whispered "momy"...that makes my heart pound and convinces me, if just for a moment, this has been some ghastly dream. But while my heart can feel your presence, my eyes confirm that you remain lost from our lives, and again my world crashes in around me. Yes, this really happened; a thousand nightmares, the sum of all my fears. So tonight I will once more lie awake, forcing myself to not return to see your room and wonder the "what ifs" and "could have beens" which flash like lightening in my mind and strike at my soul. The thunder of it all is too much to sleep, but yet in the sweet silence of my dreams is where we never part...
~Drew Genneken~

This was written for Tyler Genneken by his Dad. Though I have never met Tyler's parents, we are members of the worst club on the planet. The grieving parents club. His thought are my thoughts, his words are my words. Welcome to a glimpse of my world."The Tree of Life"
Disney Animal Kingdom

We have learned it is good to set goals. One of our goals is to visit every Disneyland in the world. Heather loved Disneyland so much she planned to get married at Disneyland. That was her dream. I think that she would be pleased to know that we are planning to visit every Disney in the world. It means something very special to us. Bill and I ventured to Walt Disney World in Florida, the week after Thanksgiving. It was our first time to visit Florida. We heard many different things about visiting Disney World. Those that love Disneyland, stick with the old favorite. Disney World is much more spread out and has 4 the different theme parks.A special spot Bill and I found

The castle in Disney World is Cinderella's castle. It is very breath taking. All the spires and the grandeur make it very impressive. The lights hung on the castle for Christmas are something that the eye can behold but photos do not bring the true beauty of the castle lit up at night. Sleeping Beauty's castle in Disneyland will always be a beautiful castle, but Cinderella's castle in Disney World is stunning. Heather would have loved to have seen that castle.Same special spot at night
Notice the full moon above the castle


We flew in on Monday. It was a very long flight. Before we left Phoenix we attached tags to our luggage that checked it all the way to our hotel. We never touched our luggage once we checked it in at Sky harbor. We were greeted by Disney World cast member that directed us to a tour bus to go to our hotel. We checked in and went to our room for a minute. Then it was hit the bus for a trip to downtown Disney shopping area. This was about a 35 minute ride to get there.Cinderella's Castle

Our first full day we went to Magic Kingdom. I really loved Fantasyland at Magic Kngdom. I think it was the true vision of what Walt originally dreamed for Disneyland but fell short of money. It's A Small World is much better in Magic Kingdom because the marionettes are at eye level instead of being on a 5 foot ledge. Haunted Mansion was really good especially because it was not decorated as "The Nightmare Before Christmas" as in Disneyland. I don't care for the movie. I like the original ride. Yes, it is still a favorite ride...does not bother me till you get to the end..the tombstones just make me think for a moment. I like Pirates of the Caribbean better at Disneyland. I like the backwoods Kentucky look of the beginning of the ride. I think that Disneyland decorates much better for Christmas. Disney World contains 4 different theme parks so I understand why they cannot decorate as much. There are only 2 parks at Disneyland. That night was our Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. We had cookies, hot chocolate and were allowed in the park for an extra 5 hours. It was nice, because there were not many people there. We had a special firework show and saw the Christmas parade that will be shown Christmas Day. They were taping it while we were there.Fireworks with the castle

The second day was spent at Epcot. That park really deserves 2 full days if you are going to see it the right way. It is like 2 smaller parks in one. There is Future World that has the big Epcot ball, future technology and some amazing rides. Mission Space has 2 of the same ride. One is for a weaker stomach and the other is for the thrill seeker. Bill and I did the lesser one and then I did the thrill seeker one. Oh my gosh..the rush was incredible. Would go back just to do that ride again. Then there is World Showcase that is the 2nd part of Epcot, that has 11 different countries with shopping, attractions and food that represent the culture and cuisine of the countries. We barely scratched the surface of the different countries. They have a huge lake area where an amazing fireworks display is performed. We experienced a downpour during the fireworks and then quit. They only cancel fireworks at Epcot if there is a hurricane warning. Otherwise it goes off without a hitch.Sherry at Epcot

Bill and Sherry in Animal Kingdom
Everest ride in the background


The third day we were quite adventurous. It was the last day of our 3 day pass. We began at Animal Kingdom. This park was amazing. We began with an animal safari. It was earlier in the day so all the animals were out. There is a Dinosaur ride that copies the Indiana Jones ride of Disneyland. We still like the Indiana Jones ride better. Then it was off to the popular ride Mt Everest. We had been told that this is the ride to do. It was really awesome..neat ride. Halfway through the coaster stops and you go backwards. It was Yak & Yeti's for a wonderful lunch. The park has a jungle feel to it with all the trees and plants. So, we had been to 3 out of 4 theme parks and I really wanted to be able to say we did all 4 theme parks. It was off to the bus to get the Hollywood Disney. The feel of the park is that of a 50's back movie lot. Disney has been known for their stage shows. Just so happened that Beauty and The Beast was being performed at Hollywood Disney park. That was Heather's favorite. Looked around for a while and then decided to go back to Epcot to eat dinner. We rode the boats across the lake to get back to the hotel. The lights on the water were amazing.Beauty and The Beast stage show
Hollywood Disney

Hollywood Disney main street

Our last day in Florida and the day we flew home it poured rain most of the day. We went back down to the downtown shopping area for a few hours. We then visited the Grand Floridian Hotel. We should have spent the morning over there instead. We forgot that this is where all the Disney gingerbread houses are displayed. There were hundreds of people all over the floors watching a choir sing Christmas carols. As I bought an ornament in one of the shops I learned that Celine Dion was making a surprise appearance to sing later in the afternoon. It was being taped to be played on Christmas Eve I believe. I so wanted to see her perform but we had a flight to catch. The hotel is stunning, really a site to see..The Grand Floridian
Preparing for Celine Dion


Check out my other blog at www.caringbridge.org/visit/heathercoombe


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy Birthday, My Dolly Girl...

That's very far, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. He was almost too sleepy to think anymore. Then he looked beyond the thornbushes, Out into the big dark night. Nothing could be farther than the sky. "I love you right up to the moon," he said, and closed his eyes. "Oh, that's far," said Big Nutbrown Hare. "That is very, very far." Big Nutbrown Hare settled Little Nutbrown hare Into his bed of leaves. He leaned over and kissed him good night. then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile, "I love you right up to the moon~and back." Guess How Much I Love You~Sam McBratney

Thursday, December 10, 1987 began like any other day. I woke up and began taking care of little Jenny. It was about 8 days before my due date and I had a doctor's appointment that afternoon. I called Bill crying and asked him to come home. I did not not know why...just needed him to come home. We went to the doctor and nothing eventful was happening. Jenny and I took a nap together that afternoon. We had some errands to do so we went to Furrs Cafeteria for dinner at the mall and then did some shopping. I remember standing in line thinking man, this kid is really grinding my organs. I was hurting some. Nothing that I thought were contractions. Walking out to the Blazer I had to stop and catch my breath but still did not think anything was up. You ask how could I not know, Jenny was induced so I had no idea what it was like to go into labor.12th Birthday~1999~
Banana Split at Dairy Queen After ZooLights


At 9:28 pm I began to feel a little odd. Bill was downstairs in the basement room wrapping presents with Jenny. When he came up he asked me what I was doing. I said the 1st level of breathing. He got a very shocked look on his face and said do you think you are in labor? I said I don't know. We timed a few contractions and sure enough 3 mintues apart and lasting 45-60 seconds. Most momys are at the hospital at this point. I called the doctor and they told me to go directly to the hospital, don't get dressed, just go now!! Our sitter for Jenny was no where to be found so we called a neighbor to come watch her.13th Birthday~2000~
Happy lil smile cake


We arrived at Penrose Community Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colorado at 10:45 pm. They were going to observe me to see if this was the real thing. My doctor was already in the hospital with another patient. He came to see me and told me I was going to stay and he would be around. I called the nurse for a pain shot..no I did not have an epidural. I received the shot and 15 minutes later Heather was born at 11:52 pm on December 10, 1987. Due to the shot, Heather was sleepy and did not want to breath. She received oxygen and a shot to counteract the shot. Yes, that is a 2 hour and 24 minute labor and delivery.18th Birthday~2005
Oooh la la every girl wants perfume and nesting owls..


Heather did not mind that her birthday was close to Christmas. I always made sure she was not cheated out of presents. Most of her presents from friends would be wrapped in Christmas paper. I think that is why she loved Christmas so much. It was her 2 favorites right together. She loved to give gifts to friends. She did not care how much it cost. It was how much she knew the person would like it that mattered.21st birthday~2008~
Ironic that Heather poses by Beauty in her blue dress


Heather hated her cancer even more than you normally would.
She said she got the only cancer that makes you fat with all the high dose steroids.
To me she only looked beautiful...


Last year we were at Disneyland for her 21st Birthday. Heather loved Disneyland and I could not think of a better place to be to celebrate Heather, her birthday and all she had survived. we had lunch with all the princesses, had our private tour guide and finally our ride on the LillyBelle train. At that moment all the bad stuff was behind us and life was good for that moment. She wore her tiara from the ball to lunch and Belle and Cinderella wondered where she got such a beautiful tiara. Today, her tiara sits on the heart box that holds her ashes that sits on her piano.

For more about Heather's birthday and life visit
www.caringbridge.org/visit/heathercoombe

video
14th Birthday~2001~
Mickey and Minnie Christmas cake

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Love of a Toyota Camry...

Never drive faster than
Your guardian angel can fly...

Bill and I did not feel that just because our daughters turned 16 that gave them a driver's license and a car. We felt it was important to give them some of the responsibility. They needed to pay for car insurance and gas. We would pay for all the repairs.

In October 2006 we were driving home and we spotted a red Toyota Camry coupe in a yard for sale. We went home and Bill sent me back to take a look at the car and test drive it. I brought the car home being that it was only about 2 miles away. Heather was tickled pink. She was ever so excited about her red sport 1994 Toyota Camry. It was only a 4 cylinder but felt like a V6. That is why we named it"Zippy". It had a sunroof, cassette player, great interior and smelled like coffee due to the amount that had been spilled in the car. Heather loved everything about her car.Heather drove her car no matter what. Even if we had room in our car she would drive and meet us where ever we were going. She drove many of her friends around to the mall or dinner. Once she began working at Target, everyone commented about how her car matched the Target dress code..Red and Khaki. Only Heather could have a car that matched her job. When she first began to work at Target she actually blew the tread off her tire on the freeway and continued to drive. She looked at her car when she got to work but did not see anything wrong. When she left work at 10:30 pm her tire was flat. A security guy from Target changed her tire and got her on her way back home.

Many fun times were in her car. One of the toughest thing Heather had to do was park her car on April 10, 2008. She did it without complaint and with grace. She had all her freedoms taken away no school, no work, no driving and never being alone. Heather was restored to freedom in October 2008. The first thing she did was drive her car...everywhere again. Funny story, the driver's side window regulator was broken. (this is the automatic window switch) She went through the drive thru for a late night snack and had a pregnant Wendy pop up from the sun roof. She also did this with a group of girls from her church.

It is very difficult to let go of something that Heather loved so much. The idea that her car will not be parked in front of our house is very sad. Due to the fact that the engine is blown I hope someone will sell it for parts and I don't have to see someone else driving it around town. Just another chapter in letting go and saying good bye...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sharing My Heather...

Where are you Christmas?
Why can't I find you?
Why have you gone away?
Where is the laughter, you used to bring me?
Why can't I hear music play?
My world is changing, I 'm rearranging.
Does that mean Christmas changes too?
~How The Grinch Stole Christmas~
~Faith Hill~Where Are You Christmas~

video
Heather's piano recital, Christmas 2002.
She announces the she is playing Christmas Time is Here
by Vince Guaraldi.
It was written for "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and this cartoon debuted
the year her momy was born.
This is for her...



I have learned in the past 7 1/2 months that friends disappear rather quickly when someone loses a child. I don't know if they are uncomfortable with me talking about Heather and sharing my memories or they simply cannot handle the awful pain of losing a child. Losing a loved one is never easy. However in losing a parent or a spouse there seems to be lots of people who rise to the occasion, meet their needs and share common experiences. However the lose of a child is out of the natural order. It is a very elite club that I pray none of you join. I have often stated that i would love to sit and talk with John Travolta and Kelly Preston. Yes, they are stars, but more importantly they are grieving parents. I am sure we have many things in common.

But with the ones that walk away, there are new friends, true friends that don't walk away and let me talk about what ever I need to. I have many things that I did not share on the CaringBridge that I am beginning to talk about. I need to talk and just have someone listen. They are very private moments, mostly between Heather and me at night when we were alone. Some of the memories are dealing with the cancer and others are the ICU. But it felt good the other day to talk about them. I feel very blessed to have D, W, S, S, J, D, L, S, C, S and K come along side and help me get through this awful time. They visit, text or call very often to keep me encouraged. I am especially grateful for the recent reconnection of a very dear friend from the past and his wife. They have come along side, tried their best to listen and stand beside us.

Many of our new friends did not know Heather very well and some of them never met her. Over the next few weeks I want to share some very personal videos of Heather. Maybe you can see how amazingly wonderful she was. As I look over photos and videos I realize that I don't have nearly enough. As I went through the videos to find some to share I was over come with extreme joy and extreme sadness at the same time. It was so good to hear her voice and see her...at the same time a devastating look that this is all I have left. She will not play her piano again or sing, hold my hand or bring me flowers again. She is gone forever. Right now forever seems like eternity...
video

A friend sent me a message and told me that she would always remember Heather singing "Breath of Heaven" by Amy Grant for Christmas 2002 at church. She had a truly pure voice. I have included that video..I hope you find it special...Due to being recorded digitally it end abruptly..sorry...

Monday, November 23, 2009

An Unforgetable Date...

Heather was in the 5th grade in 1998-1999. She had a growth spurt over the summer and was taller than most of the kids in her class. She also had a small acne problem. There was one boy in her class that had begun to pick on Heather. He and his friends made rude comments and harasses her everyday at school. I had been to speak to the teacher and principle but it was Heather's word against the boy's word. Nothing was done about this problem. As the weeks went on this boy began to tel Heather horrible things. He would come to school and tell her that he had a dream about her in which he cut off her head and kicked it down the stairs. Other dreams included him bringing a gun to school, shooting her and dancing in her blood till she died. By October 1998 Heather had enough and I pulled her out of public school and began home schooling her. Heather and I both feared for her life. I called the district to file a complaint and they eagerly wanted to place Heather in the school of my choice so they would not lose their tax dollars. No one cared really about the threats or the safety of my Heather. Once home, she was happy and carefree with all the bullies gone from her life.Heather-April 1999

In April 1999 came the news of the Columbine School shooting. Just to recap the story; two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, embarked on a massacre, killing 12 students and one teacher. They also injured 21 other students directly, and three people were injured while attempting to escape. The pair then committed suicide. It is the fourth-deadliest school massacre in United States history and the deadliest for an American high school. Heather and I remained glued to the TV watching things unfold. We both knew this could have happened to Heather had she remained at school. She was that fearful for her life in 5th grade. Not a was any child should go to school. Heather felt that Columbine was a huge turning point for the counrty as to high school safety. We began to realize as a nation that kids kill other kids everyday. Heather ran into this same boy at Red Mountain High School. He had no idea of who she was. Not much had changed in her opinion of him. He was gothic, into drugs and acted violent at school. Did he find someone new to bully once Heather was gone?

Until the November issue of Oprah magazine came out on newsstand, I had not given any thought to Columbine. One article was an interview with Susan Klebold, Dylan's mom. As I began to read the article somethng came to my attention that I had missed many months before. Heather died on the 10th anniversary of the Columbine shooting; April 20, 2009. It never dawned on me the date she died had such history in our country and in her life. Many kids today have no idea of what happened at Columbine. Heather never forgot and now neither will I.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vampires, Twilight and Heather...

Heather was not interested in the Twilight Saga. Heather felt that Jenn had corrupted me into a Harry Potter fan. And that Twilight was just the latest in the read a book over and over and then watch the movie group. I waited till I finished Twilight before I went to see the movie. I was hooked on both. Jenn and I attempted to get Heather to go with us but she refused. Told us vampires are too scary.

One Coombe Family tradition is that on Thanksgiving Eve and Christmas Eve we go see a movie. Mostly because no one is in the theater. Everyone is doing the family things. Last year John and Wendy went to his family for Christmas Eve Day, but they would be back later that evening. Bill, Jenn, Heather and I all decided to spend the day at the movies. The first time ever to see back to back movies. To fit the times so we did not have too much wait time we say Jim Carrey in Yes Man first then went to see Twilight.Heather came out of the theater screaming that she needed a bookstore to get the first book. How dear Jenn and I not tell her it was a love story. On the way home we went to Safeway looking for the Twilight book. Jenn had all 4 and agreed that she could borrow them till she could get her own set. Heather began reading Christmas Eve night. Heather went the day after Christmas and bought the first 2 books. She fell in love with the story and Edward and Bella. Many night she was up really late trying to find a good stopping spot.

Heather said that she was Bella. The pain white skin, not fitting in, not athletic. She also believed that if Edward really existed he could bite her and she would be cured forever. She joked about how she would smell funny with all the blood transfusions. She told me many times that Edward could be the new cure for leukemia. Her last stay in the hospital she kept waiting for Edward…either from Twilight or Enchanted. She thought either one would do nicely.Heather then saw Twilight in the theaters about 6 times before she got sick. The weekend we were moved to ICU Twilight came out. Several of our friends offered to get Heather a copy. We told Heather we would not watch it till she could be home with us to see it. Heather never saw Twilight again.

Heather read 3 out of four books. She devoured them. The final book she borrowed from Jenn. She read the first little bit…up to the wedding. She kept asking me what happened. I would not tell her. The last week in ICU I played the audio version of Breaking Dawn for Heather 2 times. I am not sure how much she got of it. It made me feel better knowing she was hearing her book.It is will mixed emotions that I go and stand in line to see Twilight and New Moon tonight. Heather would have so been here. She would have stood in line for hours to get a seat. I want to see the movie. I have been waiting for a long time to see it. I don’t want to see the movie because it means I move forward without Heather. She should be here with us. It hurts so bad…It is so not fair…but then when did I think life was ever fair???

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Get The Tissues...

Try as I might, I am not able to place this on YouTube. The slide show is fine, but there are copyright rules that will not allow the songs to be played with it. I think you will see just how powerful this slide show was with the music. The music is the most important. Music and songs were Heather's whole world. She loved all music. I have learned in the past few months that music can be the most powerful emotion tool there is in the world.
video
Get the tissues ready...this is a brief look at Heather's life through photos and music. Celine Dion's "Miracle" still remains my song for Heather. I should just rename it "Heather's Song". The second song it Amy Grant's 'I Can Only Imagine". Heather sang that song for her Grandma Coombe's funeral. The second to the last photo was taken seconds after Violet was born. You can see the tears of joy on her Aunt Missy's face. I hope you enjoy what we worked so hard those first few days to put together. It was very difficult to look through all the old photos at that time. All you want to do is crawl into a ball and die. I think they do it at that time so you will look at photos and remember.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mention My Heather...

Go ahead and mention my child,
The one that died, you know.
Don't worry about hurting me further.
The depth of my pain doesn't show.
Don't worry about making me cry.
I'm already crying inside.
Help me to heal by releasing
The tears that I try to hide.
I'm hurt when you just keep silent,
Pretending she didn't exist.
I'd rather you mention my child,
Knowing that she has been missed.
You ask me how I was doing.
I say "pretty good" or "fine".
But healing is something ongoing
I feel it will take a lifetime.
~Elizabeth Dent~
"I know my halo is up there somewhere"
FaceBook by Heather

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Once Upon A TIme...

Once upon a time there was a beautiful Grand Duchess named Heather. She had long, beautiful hair and the most amazing blue eyes. She was kindhearted, compassionate and very loving and giving. One day an evil monster named acute lymphoblastic leukemia and lymphoma attacked the beautiful Duchess. Heather fought the evil monster with all her heart and soul. The evil monster would be defeated. But unknown to the royal family, major damage had been done to the Duchess and soon she would no longer be here. Before she died, the King and Queen gave her a Grand Ball to celebrate her defeat of the evil monster. Enjoy the rest of the story...The dress was perfect and so was Heather. A few finishing touches; earrings and necklace of aquamarine to match the dress, perfumed body glitter, her royal tiara and the Grand Duchess was ready. She waited with her grandpa for the white limo to pick her up. Right before I left she had asked me “how do I walk”? Heather meant how fast or slow should she walk through the family and friends lined with sparklers for her entrance. I told her however she wanted to, it was her day. She bent over, kissed me on my cheek, like she so often would and said she would see me on the walkway. (Meaning the high fashion model walkway)Heather with her Grandpa Blackburn

The next time I saw Heather she was glowing. Escorted by her Grandpa she smiled and looked at all friends and family beaming back at her. Gayle threw kisses as she walked by. It was the grand entrance that fairy tales are made of. Dave Martin, Heather’s 3rd grade teacher and a dear friend gave the first toast. He spoke about what Heather had learned in class but what he had learned from her. Gayle got emotional as she spoke her love to Heather. The King and Queen had their turn to thank family and friends and to share a little of their feelings.Heather and Gwen

The food was wonderful. I know everyone had more than enough to eat. The cake was special order just for Heather. She and I had been to meet with Nancy to sample some cake and make our decision. Just like a wedding, we saved the top portion just for Heather. It was red velvet with a hint of chocolate in the icing. Cutting the cake was fun for Heather. She had never done that before. Once she had the piece on the plate she swiped her finger into the icing and stuck it in her mouth. A very “Heather” thing to do.All to soon, the evening ended. Heather asked me if that was what it was like on your wedding day. Time seemed to go so far for her. We cleaned up and said our goodbyes. Heather arrived in the limo, so how would she be getting home? She decided to ride with John in the Jeep. She crawled into the front seat with her ball gown on and buckled in. The Jeep did not have the windows on so in classic Heather fashion, she took off her wig and rode home. She was all a giggle when she came home telling us about the looks she got from cars stopped at red lights. It would be something to see a beautiful Duchess in a ball gown with no hair, well very short, short hair.Our new family-Banner Baywood Staff
Chris, Shawna, Gayle, Emily, Heather, Stacey, Erin, Jan, Deb


Heather kisses and twirls with cousin Addy

Once home we all went out into the backyard with the leftover sparklers and lit them up. We all laughed and had a great time. Nothing makes you feel like a kid more than sparklers. It was a fun and glorious moment. Heather was happy. This was the party to end all parties. This was the one that said we were finished. Life could begin again. I was told by the nursing staff that most people do not give big parties like that. It seemed only natural to me to give Heather a grand ball for all that she had been through. Bill told me it was more like a wedding reception just without the groom. Little did any of us know how true that statement would become. The Grand Duchess Cancer Survivor Ball was her wedding. The only one I got to plan for Heather.As the memory of that wonderful night race through my memory, I remember every detail of the day and night. I am very sad that my Duchess is no longer here. Heather would wear her ball gown and accessories again. Dressed for her final ball just as she had been 5 months earlier. The beautiful ball gown is now gone forever. All that remains are the memories, her jewelry, purse, shoes and tiara. Her tiara placed lovingly a top the heart box that contains the Grand Duchess. It sits silently, yet ever sparkling never to be worn again.Heather shows Kaitlyn her royal shoes

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Another Angel in Heaven...

Jesus wept -John 11:35
"When grieving mothers open their Bibles in search of comfort, they don't have to worry about being assaulted by passages depicting Jesus breaking out in a belly laugh. Instead they open God's Word and find a man of sorrows with whom they can deeply identify. It is in this picture the suffering find comfort".
Joni Eareckson Tada


I am not sure why the story of Tyler Genneken has touched me so much. I guess it is how Heather's story touched people we have never met before. Tyler was called home tonight. He was 14 years, 8 months and 13 days old. He died in the hospital where all his treatments began about 3 1/2 years ago. He was days away from finishing his treatment when he came out of remission. Tyler needed a bone marrow transplant and there was no match anywhere in the country. Tyler is only the latest victim to be killed by a cancer called leukemia. I know what his mother is feeling right now. I know the relief that your child is no longer hurting, but the total devastation that your child is gone forever. You will never be able to hold your baby, tell them you love them and hear their voice. It is all gone till the day you join them in heaven.Last year at this time I was busy preparing for the Grand Ball. Our family celebration that Heather had beat her cancer. The worst part was behind her and the rest of her life was ahead of her. It was the best time. Heather was so happy. All seemed right with the world for a brief moment. Those moments are what we hang on to. We need to take advantage of all the happy moments. All too soon, there will be something else come along that will rock our world. We need to make the most of the happy moments.I usually begin all the holiday things about now. I begin the Christmas newsletter and cards so they can be mailed the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, you may hate me, but it is something that I really take pride in being able to be some of the first cards people receive. I then decide what the new Snoopy or Peanuts character will be created to go in the front yard. I have all the house decorated by the end of Thanksgiving weekend. With the entire house decorated and at least 4 Christmas trees in the house I need to get started early. This year it is hard to get started. It is hard to think about those things. How can the holidays come when Heather is not here. Heather LOVED the holidays. It was her time to shine.Heather's 18th Birthday-2005 with her Holiday Barbie

Usually by now I have begun to get gifts for Heather's birthday on December 10. I usually get Heather the Holiday Barbie for her birthday. I have to get Barbie early because she usually sells out way before Christmas. This year, Holiday Barbie is beautiful. Heather would have wanted this one for sure. It is the 50th anniversary of Barbie and she has long blond hair wearing a pink dress. PERFECT!! Due to the economy, Holiday Barbie is not selling well. They keep dropping the price. Bill decided a while back to get Holiday Barbie for me. He brought her home yesterday. He decided he had waited long enough before none were left.I decided last week to go through all Heather's DVDs and CDs. That sounds harmless enough. I did not realize that it would be a week long project and require the purchase of 3 new pieces of furniture. Heather loved her movies and her music. I have placed marker dots on all of Heather's stuff. I purchased a remake of an antique apothocary cabinet to hold the CDs and DVDs. The problem is that it comes in black. We have an oak wood desk. So...we changed the entire office. Heather's black desk is now our desk in the office. I bought a bookshelf to place all the things from the drawers as Heather bought her desk for looks not for function. All the pieces look great. It is quite a different look for the office. We have had the same desk for 14 years. The black is refreshing. It also feels good to have Heather's things out for a change.Hug your children tonight. Tell the ones you love that you do love them. For in a twinkling of an eye your world can change...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween...

The Day of the Dead (El Dia de los Muertos or All Souls' day) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and by Latin Americans living in the United States and Canada. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. November 1st honors children and infants and is referred as "Dia de los Inocentes" (Day of the Innocents) but also as "Dia de los Angelitos" (Day of the Little Angels). November 2nd is known as "Dia de los Muertos" (Day of the Dead). Plans for the day are made throughout the year. Families usually clean and decorate the graves where their loved ones are buried. Flowers, mostly marigolds, candles, incense, mementos and photos are used to decorate the graves in rememberence.

I thought you might like to know a little more about the original way to celebrate Halloween. It is really a day set aside to remember all those that have died. We have Memorial Day but that seems to be a day to remember the military that have fallen instead of ALL those who have died. At least that is the way I think about Memorial Day. It just made me stop and think about a different way to remember loved ones that have died. We do not have a grave to visit and decorate but maybe I will begin to celebrate November 1st, "Dia de los Angelitos", in honor of my angel, Heather.Heather loved Halloween. Mostly because she could not go. Well, the candy too. When the girls were little we did not celebrate Halloween. When we lived in Minnesota usually it was way too cold to do any trick or treating. It was 1996 before the girls were allowed to dress up and go trick or treating. I wanted to make sure the girls were old enough to understand that Halloween is nothing but dressing up and begging for candy..haha! I made sure that they never dressed as hags or goblins, nothing creepy.In 2004, on the spur of the moment, the girls decided to go trick or treating. I had a great idea to dress them as Christmas packages. They forever give me grief about going as presents. Everyone thought they were really cute. I thought it was a great idea. That Halloween would be very special for the fact that my Daddy called me for the first time ever as I was preparing costumes. I was busy working and getting a call from him was the last thing on my mind. It was a great surprise. It was the beginning of a daddy/daughter relationship that I deeply cherish.Tami and Kerry came over on the spur of the moment in 2007 and wanted Heather to go trick or treating with them. Heather was thrilled. She put on a formal dress from her last piano recital, her tiara from Disneyland and went as a princess. Go figure that one. Heather had a swollen lymph node under her chin but we had no idea what was heading our way. She was not feeling sick in any way.Last year, Heather, went to 2 parties. She went as her favorite nurse to Tiffini's. She had saline flushes, a thermometer and a stethoscope. She had a great time for her first offical party since being finished with chemo. Then Heather went with Jenn to her church group Halloween/birthday party for Sussy. She dressed as a Target employee and wore a "Jennifer" name badge. Imagine the confusion as she announced that her real name is Heather and she is Jennifer's sister. This was Heather's first introduction to the group. It was very hard for me to "let her out" and be around people who may be sick. It was a huge worry, but I also knew that Heather needed to feel "normal". I tried to allow her to do all the things that she could.Halloween is so different this year. Just one more holiday that we have without Heather here. Halloween is strange because it focuses on death and horror. I have enough death and horror in my life. I really do not need a day set aside to remember that fact.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Missing One...

"And yet, I found I could survive. I was alert, I felt the pain-
the aching loss that radiated out from my chest, sending
wracking waves of hurt through my limbs and head-

but it was manageable.

I could live through it.

It didn't feel like the pain had weakened over time,

rather that I'd grown strong enough to bear it"
.
spoken by Bella Swan-New Moon
by Stephenie Meyer
As I stood in David's Bridal and looked at all the wedding gowns, my eyes began to water and my heart was pounding. Turn around and keep it together for Wendy. Being in the bridal shop reminded me that I will never plan a wedding or shop for the wedding dress with Heather. The closest I get to this event was planning the ball for Heather last year. We did go to a bridal shoppe for her ball gown. She tried on many dresses before the blue one was brought out. Heather's eyes lit up. She looked perfect. This was "The One". She was concerned about price. She felt so beautiful, like a princess in the dress that I told her it was not a problem. I had no idea that this would be the last dress I ever bought her.Then the thought that ALL of us should be dress shopping with Wendy. Heather should be excited and bringing Wendy dress after dress. Standing with Jenn and I as we give our opinion of how the dresses look. As Wendy tries on each dress, we all 3 know that this event is not the same. It is forever changed. Forever Heather is missing from everything we plan and do.The day of the wedding was mixed with happiness and extreme sadness. Heather should have be here to rush around with all the activity. She and Wendy doing hair and make-up. Heather would have been the Maid of Honor. Jenn and Wendy both were planning to make her their Maid of Honor. In usual Heather fashion she would have hunted for the best and perfect dress for Wendy's wedding. She would have spent time looking at makeup and hair styles. Not sure if she would have had to wear a wig or if she would have been happy with the length of her hair. Her hair would have been probably to her jaw line at least by now. Heather would have stood proudly beside her sister on this very special day.Heather loved John and thought he was the best thing since sliced bread for Wendy. The 3 of them spent many late nights together. They shared a LOVE of Starbucks Coffee as well. Heather would be thrilled to have John as her brother. She would have enjoyed giving him a hard time and possibly playing some jokes on him before the wedding as well.L to R: Best man-Clancy Stockton his wife Missy Stockton, Ben Wolfe boyfriend of Kelli Wiltberger, Mother of the Groom-Dorrie Wiltberger, Father of the Groom-Dave Wiltberger, The New Mr. & Mrs. John Wiltberger, with Princess Pea, Father of the Bride-Bill Coombe, Maid of Honor-Jenny Coombe, Mother of the Bride-Sherry Coombe, very close personal friend and Pea's Nana-Rose Akers

I was reminded by someone that I still have 2 daughter's here and that I should focus on them. I do remember that fact very well. But the fact is that I had 3 daughter's and now I have 2. Unless you have lost a child, you will not understand. No matter how close you are or were to your parents or siblings, it is not the same as the loss of a child. I honestly believe that the reason that God gave His Son, was He knew this was the worst loss and pain anyone could endure. God gave His Son so He could say, Yes, I understand. I have been in your place. God did not give his parent, his sibling or a friend. He sacrificed His only Son. Maybe God will correct me when I get to heaven, but I believe this to be true.At every family event, every holiday, every birthday, every trip and all the other every other thing that we will ever do as a family, there will be a missing one. The empty seat will belong to Heather now and forever. No one may understand why I brought out a photo of Heather that i held while Bill took a photo of us 4 girls. It means that she was not forgotten to me.