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.

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...