Friday, December 31, 2010

Rabbit Hole....

Becca : Does "it" ever go away?
Her Mom : NO! It changes. The weight of it. At some point, it becomes bearable and you forget about it for a while. But it's what you've got instead of your son, so you carry it around".
~Rabbit Hole~

"Rabbit Hole" takes its title both from Alice's entry way into Wonderland and from a comic book produced by one of the characters, a handmade object that symbolizes the power of art not to heal, nor to console, but to offer a small, compensatory attempt to find meaning in anguish. The play and the film commit themselves to something similar, namely the project of giving shape and meaning to an awful, senseless experience. (part of a review written by A.O. Scott)

Bill and I began seeing previews for this movie about 2 weeks ago. He made me promise that I would not go see this movie without him. It had my interest as I wanted to see if this was made to real life or just another Hollywood idea of what grief is like.  I can honestly say that this movie GETS IT. It is one of the best movies to portray the grieving of parents and the friends and family they lose along the way. At the beginning of the movie Nicole Kidman explains to her husband that things are not nice anymore...things will never be nice again.  This is not to say that for a moment in time I can not have fun or be happy. It means that once that moment has passed I am left with the hole in my life again.


In the movie Nicole Kidman's mother has lost a 30 year old son to drugs. The mother is many, many years into the grieving process. She describes the grief as a huge rock on top of you at first and you must crawl out from the under the rock. Then it becomes a brick that you carry around in your pocket. Some days it is easy to carry and other days it weighs you down to the point that you can not move.

There are no words to describe a mother's grief. I try the best I can to share my thoughts and feelings with everyone. But the deep down emotions and the day to day things simply have no words or explanation. This movie is a brief look into a family's grief. It was created by Compassionate Friends a group that exists to provide friendship, understanding, and hope to those going through the natural grieving process. If you are looking for laughs and a good time this movie is not for you. But if you would like to have an eye opening look at grief, the emotions and day to day life that are part of my world, then this is a movie for you. Take some tissues with you and honestly, it is not scary, or morbid, there is no death or funeral scene. It begins 8 months after the fact.


There are things in life that change us and, once we experience them, there's no going back. If we were to travel through time and meet the individuals we once were, it would be like encountering other people. Having a child may be the most transformative experience a person can experience. Losing that child is a close second. Parents invest so much into the care, nurturing, and upbringing of their offspring that, if the child dies, the resulting chasm seems bottomless. Life cannot be what it once was. Death is not a time machine that allows us to return to the carefree days of pre-parenthood. It's a wound that cuts deeply and leaves a scar. It shakes the foundations of even the sturdiest marriages. People react differently to tragedy and, in the midst of grief, a mutual sense of intolerance can create a gap that can be intimidating to span.(part of a review by James Berardinelli)

This 1st week of the New Year should be a very interesting one. I should be getting a call about picking up Mr. B's ashes. I can say that I still miss Mr. B and sometimes forget he is gone. But I am not getting out 2 sets of veggies anymore. Which is a good thing I think. Then I will be getting the container to ship Heather's ashes off to begin the process of the diamond. The more and more photos that I look at of Heather the more I am right in my choice of the red stone. In so many pictures of her she is wearing red. A couple of friends have told me that they remembered little red things about Heather. Just to give you an idea of what the ring will look like in white gold and then with the round red stone, Bill got into photoshop and changed the ring to look more like what mine will look like.

Happy New Year to everyone...I pray it is a safe and healthy 2011


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend...

But square-cut or pear-shaped,
These rocks don't loose their shape.
Diamonds are a girl's best friend.

 Diamonds!  Diamonds!
I don't mean rhinestones!
But diamonds are a girl's best friend.
~Marilyn Monroe-Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend~

Heather loved diamonds. She loved any real gemstone like ruby, emerald, or sapphire, but especially diamonds. She wanted at least a 1 carat engagement ring. The one she really loved was 3 carats with the center diamond being a 2 carat, marquis cut stone. She loved to go jewelry looking to see the biggest diamonds she could find in the store. For birthdays beginning with her 14th birthday we began giving her "real" jewelry. The 1st ring I ever bought her was a ruby flower. The rubies were some of the best, clearest rubies I had ever seen. Special events like graduation included jewelry as well. I was building her collection.

Several years ago when Grandma Coombe died Heather stated that when I was cremated she was going to turn me into a pair of diamond earrings and wear me forever. She obviously had been looking online and found a place that created diamonds out of cremation ashes. I believe at the time she was looking the place was in Russia and the diamonds were very, very costly. But I am sure that Heather would have made me into diamond earrings someday.

From time to time I go out and look at different cremation jewelry. I have my favorite sites that I find very trustworthy and look at anything new that comes along. Now after 20 months the thumbprint necklaces are available online for a much lower price. Everything comes to the web sooner or later. I was looking the other day and came across a site that had man made diamonds from ashes. I began looking at sites that make cremation diamonds. 

Ashes are carbon and carbon makes diamonds. This process was discovered and perfected in Russia. In April 2008 they expanded to the US and settled in Pennsylvania. Man made diamonds have been created for many years in the US, but not from ashes. Anything other than a white or clear diamond is a man made diamond. The new popular black, chocolate and champagne diamonds are all created by man. Using either hair or ashes, white, blue, red, green, yellow and orange diamonds can be created. There are 3 different shapes: brilliant-round, princess cut-square and radiant-rectangle. The ashes created diamond contains the essence of life as well as your most precious memories — thus making it the most unique, sentimental and cherished heirloom you’ll ever own

Man created diamonds are quite simply, real diamonds that have been produced in a lab rather than those that occur naturally and are mined out of the ground – there is no other difference in the chemical makeup. Both natural and man made diamonds are made of the same material – nearly pure carbon, and the crystalline structure is very similar with differences only detectable using specialized instruments. In nature, diamonds are formed up to 200 kilometers below the earths surface.  They are created in conditions of intense heat and pressure and slowly, over thousands of years, they are carried to the surface by volcanic activity.

I have been struggling between colors of the "Heather" diamond I want to create. I was torn between red and blue. My first thought was red. Heather loved her Grandma Coombe's red nails and loved to polish them. Red has always defined who she was; minnie mouse, red car, Target, clothes, lip stick, nails and even the dress she bought for her last Christmas party. Then I liked the blue because it reminds me of Heather's eyes, her ball gown, her love of the ocean, her calm personality, the soft, loving side of her and blue shows the princess that she was.

So today I have begun the process to have a stone created. They mailed out the ashes container to me. Once they get the ashes they will begin my diamond. This process takes 70-75 days to complete once they get the ashes. Then they will place in it the setting I have chosen.  I will receive emails updating me with every step that my diamond is making. I figure that I will be receiving my new RING in April. How amazing is that??

The definition of the RED diamond: infuses deep pomegranate with a chameleon effect that change depending on the surrounding light conditions.  They are as personal, individual and unique as the lives they mirror.


I am proud to announce that I have chosen the Brilliant Red, 3/4 carat diamond to be made with Heather's ashes. This will be truly amazing. I am excited and thrilled with the coming of my new diamond. It will be graded and certified once it is cut. I will keep you updated as to how it is going. The pictures are from the website. The ring will be white gold not yellow gold. The stone will be round and not square. The video is a look at the process they use to make a diamond.


Friday, December 24, 2010

A Little Holiday Cheer...

Glory to God in the highest....

As I was upload in the video of Heather singing Breath of Heaven last night I was transported back to Heather's 1st recorded song she sang. Like all good Children's Christmas programs, all the kids were instructed to sing very loudly so the parents could hear them. Heather took this direction to heart and sang as LOUD as she possibly could. She can be heard over all the other children singing. This was Christmas 1992 and we were living in Minnesota at the time. Heather is wearing her "Miss Sally" pink dress. She is in the front row, 3rd from the left side. To quote the movie "Elf"~"The best way to spread holiday cheer is singing loudly for all the hear"!!!
video

Breath Of Heaven...

I am waiting
in a silent prayer
I am frightened
by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone
Be with me now
Be with me now
 
Breath of Heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of Heaven

Breath of Heaven

Lighten my darkness
Pour over me, your holiness
For your holy Breath of Heaven

Do you wonder

As you watch my face
If a wiser one, should of had my place
But I offer-all I am
For the mercy-of your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be
Help me

I know that this song is commonly referred to as Mary's Song. It was written by Chris Eaton and Amy Grant. It is Mary's cry to God right before Jesus is born. She wants to do what God has asked of her but the road is very long and hard. As I have stated before song and movies that had one meaning to me before Heather died seem very different to me now. This song is not any different. I feel much like Mary in the road that I walk is not an easy one. I wonder why God chose me for this life, this life without Heather. I want to walk the road that God has chosen for me, but it is not the road I wanted or would have chosen for myself. I would not choose this road for any mother, EVER!!!

Not going to depress anyone this holiday season. I did wish to share with you the words of this song, sung by a true angel. You may have to turn up the volume for Heather always sang very soft. this was at Desert Bible Chapel ~December, 2001
video
Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Heather Gets Her Bunny For Christmas....

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day.
"Does it mean having things that buzz inside you 
and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. 
"It's a thing that happens to you. 
When a child loves you for a long, long time, 
not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, 
then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.
"When you are Real you don't mind being hurt." 
~The Velveteen Rabbit~


It is with a very sad and broken heart that I announce that Mr. B has gone to be with Heather. I received a call from Dr. Wright and he explained that the stone was so large that it had ruptured the membrane around his bladder. He could remove the stone, but they could not repair the membrane. Mr. B would suffer a long and painful death with the bladder contents spilling into his blood. I had discussed the day before that I didn't want to save Mr. B if it was not in the best interest of him. So, the decision was made to have him put to sleep. Dr. Wright's office made a clay impression of Mr. B's paw for me to keep. I also am having him cremated and the ashes returned to me. I will find a spot for Mr. B and Heather to be together.
Clay impression of Mr. B's paw
 This was a huge hole placed in my heart again for many reasons.  It is very ironic, almost to the point of being sick, that Mr. B died on Monday Dec 20th~one year and 8 months to the day and date that Heather died. Wow..that is unreal. Mr. B was a link to Heather. She loved him so much and I felt that somehow having him here was having a piece of Heather still here. I also gave Mr. B special attention and extra treats. He was not just a bunny. He was someone to take care of that meant a lot to Heather.
The bag the clay impression came in..
Mr. B had such beautiful brown eyes. I have 2 other bunnies, but their eyes don't have the look and feel that Mr. B's eyes did. He loved to come out and lay next me. I could pet him for hours and when I stopped he would take his nose and nudge my hand to pet him more. he loved to have his nose petted. For a long time he would come and lay right by my feet as I sat in my chair. I would foot pet him for a long time as well. Mr. B's cage has been in our office/family room for 7 years. It looks very bare since everything has been taken out.
Mr. BB Bunnykins
As long as I have been alive I have never had to have a pet put to sleep. I had a cat run over once when I was 10 years old. That is as close as I have come to having a pet die. I have never kept a pet long enough to have this happen. It is no where near the loss of Heather, but it still made me sob uncontrollably yesterday. Then for the rest of the day I could cry at the drop of a hat. It is a loss all over again. Just when I think I am doing good something comes a long that knocks me back down again. I do believe that animals go to heaven. I think that God loves them and knows that they are such great comforts and friend to us here on earth. God would not have something so special just disappear. So I know that Heather and Mr. B are together and having a great time together.
Heather and Mr. B~together~as it should be
Heather loved the comic strip "For Better or For Worse". She liked the middle daughter Elizabeth. One day in the comic strip, Elizabeth brought home a bunny from a farm trip she took. They named the bunny Mr. Sheldon Fuzzlewhite Bumworthy or Mr. B for short. Heather adored the name Mr. B. When we got our Mr. B his name was "Cinnamon". Heather instantly changed it to Mr. BB Bunnykins or Mr. B. How she came up with that I do not know...but I do know that Mr. B came from the comic strip. She also called him Mr. Fuzzy Buns and could be heard telling him to get his Easter Kester over to her...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Too Close To Home...

Define irony - a bunch of idiots dancing around on a plane to a song made famous 
by a band that died in a plane crash. 
~Garland Greene~
Conair

Holidays are stressful in and of themselves. All the shopping for the perfect gift, holiday parties, secret Santa gifts and then comes the decorating, wrapping of gifts, holiday baking and finally ending with the actual holidays themselves. If you have out of town guests coming or family they can be ever more stressful. For a mother that is grieving the loss of a child the holidays hold no joy. I don't want to decorate, shop wrap presents or cook. I understand that life goes on and I still have the rest of my family. It is not the same and it never will be again. The holidays, especially Christmas, are all about families. Our Christmases were something that were very special. I shopped to find the perfect gifts for the girls. I then wrapped them in a certain order. We handed the girls one gift at a time to see their expression as they opened their gifts. I like to see the reaction to the gifts that have been lovingly picked for each girl. Christmas is a time that is a huge reminder that there is a hole in my heart, life and holidays where Heather used to be.

This week was to be filled with wrapping all the gifts that I ordered online. Shopping with all the holiday shoppers and checkers is not possible for me. Everyone asking if my shopping is finished? Did I find everything? Can I help you? What are your plans for Christmas? Have a Happy Holiday....I just cannot stand it. So..I order online and avoid the crowd as much as possible.
Mr. B under Christmas tree~2008
I need to go to the grocery store and get all the supplies for our holiday meal. Yes, I am going to cook again. Not doing all the homemade baking that I do. There is no joy in all the candies and cookies that I used to make. Someday there might be, but not right now. About the only thing that will get made will be chocolate caramel turtles. I like making those. It is something new that I made last year for the 1st time. As funny as it sounds it helps that Heather wasn't here during turtle making time. Something different.
Pea with Mr. B in July 2010
Mr. B, Heather's most loved bunny, has been having problems with peeing in his cage. He is a very, very clean little bunny and would never do this. I knew that something was wrong. I looked online and there were a couple of things it could be. The easiest would be a urinary tract or bladder infection. The worst of would be a stone blocking the flow of urine. Just when I thought I would have to take him to the vet, Mr. B got better. Till today...

When we came home from lunch I noticed that Mr. B was peeing all over his cage. He would lay down and pee. This is not his character at all. When he jumped into his litterbox and began really straining or pushing really hard to pee I knew he had to go in to see the vet today. So, off to the emergency vets office. Mr. B was in a lot of pain when I picked him up to put him in his kennel. Once we got there the vet did a urine test. The results were not good. There are lots of white cells and blood in his urine. Meaning there is an infection. Next step was an xray to see if he has a stone or just the infection. 
Mr. B. showing his dislike at the thought of the vets office
The xray showed the worst possible thing. Mr. B has a large stone the size of a gumball stuck in his urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder). This stone is the largest one the vet has ever seen in a small rabbit. The stone should also be in the bladder not in the urethra. It is lodged in the inner pelvis region. It is not possible to do surgery on the inner pelvic area of a bunny. The risk factor is too great. So under sedation today, the vet put a catheter in to move the stone back into the bladder. He was able to do this, however Mr. B pushed it right back to the same area again..
A drugged Mr. B
 Tomorrow, Mr. B will be having surgery to remove the stone. They will be placing a catheter to push the stone back, keep that there while they open him up to remove the stone. This all sounds simple and with cats and dogs is fairly easy.  Bunnies are a different story. They cannot be put under the same way, no tube can be put in their throat and they have to have food before and right after surgery. There is a chance that Mr. B due to his age might not survive the surgery. 
Poor lil bunny
It may not sound like much, but to be sitting an waiting while the vet did the procedure on Mr. B transported me right back to the days of waiting for test results on Heather. The coldness of the office reminded me of how bone cold I felt sitting in the hospital all those hours and days and weeks. Filling out the paperwork and really understanding very well the terms they are using. It really hit home when I had to sign a resuscitate or do not resuscitate for Mr. B. I was transported back to the 7th floor of Baywood and having the DNR paper put in front of me with Heather. I know that Mr. B is just a bunny, not a human. To me, he is a link to Heather. She loved him so and was so thrilled to get him for her 16th birthday. She loved bunnies so much.
He is just little~he is stoned..ha ha ha
So with so much to do right before Christmas...missing Heather something even more this time of year I am again thrust into caregiver for Mr. B. He has 3 different medications to be given once and twice a day. He also has special food I have to give him till he is able to eat a full diet on his own....

So the irony??...when it rains it pours??..when life is at it's busiest let's add one more thing??..Just in case you didn't think about Heather enough right now here is an extra reminder???

Friday, December 17, 2010

Believe......

Believe in what your heart is saying
Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste
There's so much to celebrate
Believe in what you feel inside
And give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need
If you just believe
~Believe-Josh Groban~
~The Polar Express~

Heather loved school and she loved her teachers. She took everything that they said to be the absolute truth and would do anything to please them. She was thrilled that her 2nd grade teacher was Mrs. Berglund-Carla. Heather loved the fact that she was having her 1st baby and thought the sun and moon were hung by her teacher. As the year went on and Christmas got close, Mrs. Berglund told the class she was going to read them her all time, most favorite Christmas book in the whole world;
The Polar Express.
Heather~Christmas 1995~2nd grade
Heather~the best Christmas present ever
It took several years after Heather was in 2nd grade in 1995-1996 for Hollywood to decide to make a movie about this most beloved book. In 2003, Heather began to see trailers for the movie and she was going to see this movie no matter what. Our family movie for Thanksgiving 2004 was The Polar Express. Heather fell in love with the movie. She loved everything about The Polar Express. One of Heather's most beloved birthday gifts came that same year as Hallmark had a bell called "The 1st gift of Christmas." It was always under her tree every single year. Now it is under the tree I have in my bedroom that is decorated with Heather's ornaments.
For Christmas 2004, I got Heather The Polar Express book. After all these years she never had a copy of the book she loved so much. I also found a bookmark that was a copy of the ticket for the train. She loved the bookmark so much that she put the bow on the plastic and never ever used it. I also found a Hallmark ornament that you pull the string and it lights up and the train goes around in a circle. It is quite the ornament. I bought one for myself after Christmas so Heather and I both had one. In going through her things I found her ornament. I could think of no better place for this to go than to Mrs. Berglund who got the whole thing started in the first place.
The next birthday (2005) was the year that Hallmark came out with a cookie plate and the hot chocolate cup and saucer from the movie. Of course I picked these up right away for Heather. Again she loved these items. She had them out every year. She really wanted to find 11 more of the cookie plates. She wanted to make them her dish set for Christmas. We never could find enough of these plates to fill her dream. I also got her the Hallmark ornament of the polar Express for that year as well.
Two more of Heather's Polar Express ornaments
 In 2005 The Polar Express came out in IMAX. As one of our movie nights before Christmas we took an extended family member with us to see the movie at the IMAX. A great time was had by all. Heather was always thinking of gifts for others. In her shopping she found "The 1st gift of Christmas". During our extended family Christmas Eve get together, Heather had to make sure that this person got the 1st gift of Christmas. This was the year that Bill's mom had died in October and Heather was doing everything possible to make it a great holiday for everyone.
Jenn and Heather with 3D glasses on
Here in Arizona we have a train that runs from Williams to "Christmas Town" called "The Polar Express." It runs 2 times a night, almost every night from Thanksgiving to the 1st of the year. It is suppose to be like the magical trip in the book. You get hot chocolate and cookies. Santa boards the train and everyone gets the 1st gift of Christmas. We were never able to do this with Heather and I regret this very much. She would love it so much. We probably would have done it for Christmas 2009, but Heather had other plans that year. So, next year the Coombe Family will be spending Christmas Eve riding The Polar Express. Yes, actually on Christmas Eve. We will then stay at the lodge up there and have a great, special time...with Heather there as well.

If you have not read The Polar Express or seen the movie you need to. It will become a holiday classic for your family as well. I also have the soundtrack. One of the most favorite songs is Josh Groban's "Believe." Heather bought the piano music to play and every Christmas we could hear her playing this song. Please take a listen to the song that I am sure you have heard before, but maybe it will mean something a little different now.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Birthday Blood Drive....

"A Princess is never late...
Everyone else is simply early...."
~Princess Diaries~

Heather loved Barbies and princesses. Heather had many birthday parties that were Belle when she was younger. For her 21st birthday she spent it with all the princesses at Disneyland. When I began looking for a cake for her birthday this year I was torn between 2-a Barbie and one that had 3 princesses on it. I had a vote and everyone went with the princess cake. I asked the family what they thought and Jenn had something very interesting to say on the subject. The theme for Heather's graduation was Barbie. The colors were pink, black and ivory and the flowers were roses. It was a stunning party. Jenn said that ever since the graduation party Heather had wanted a Barbie birthday cake. So this year she got her Barbie birthday cake; pink with roses as well.
 Friday, Heather's actual birthday was busy. I am thinking that keeping busy is the way to pass the day. Not that I ever ever will forget, but if I sit for a moment the thoughts and memories creep in and the extreme sadness can take over very quickly. We went to lunch at YC's Mongolian Grill. It is a build your own dish place. Heather loved to eat there. Then the afternoon was spent getting the cakes and last minute things done for the blood drive. There was quite a bit of stress as the beautiful Barbie cake began to fall apart once I got it home. For the rest of the day as I walked into the kitchen more and more repairs had to be done. Then it began to lean. I know Heather was rolling on the floor of heaven laughing at this most frustrating cake.
 Before I knew it the day was over. I had survived Heather's 2nd birthday of her being gone. Really?.. only the 2nd one? Are you kidding  me? It feels like forever. Birthdays for mom's are very special days. It is the day that you bring your baby into the world. It brings a huge amount of joy to the family, church and friends. As time goes on there are parties and memories that mark each year that goes by. Suddenly, it is all gone. She is not her. Just simply gone. The thing about it is that God knew all along that Heather was only going to be here for a short amount of time. His plan was for her to live 21 years, 4 months, 9 days and 22 hours. That was it. I would not change having one moment with Heather. I never regret her being born, living and even her death. I hate that she died, not that she lived.
Saturday's Birthday Blood drive was a HUGE success. We made appointments for the entire day and everyone showed up. The goal that United Blood Services set was to get 19 booked and successfully collect blood from 14 people. WELL....we had 19 successful blood collections with at least 3 of them being double red cell donors. We had 9 first time donors and had 7 who tried but were unsuccessful for a variety of reasons. Are U Pink? made 112% of goal and gave the hospitals in the area over 57 units of blood products to save lives this holiday season. WOW!!!!
We arrived at Az Mills Mall, began getting set up and cutting cake. We brought water to help hydrate people before they gave blood. There were 4 balloon bouquets for people to sign and write messages to Heather. The day was a day of telling lots of people about Heather, leukemia, stem cell transplants and blood donations. Several people were very interested in her story. One of the donors was the tech that had recently done my mammogram. She actually reached her gallon total of blood that she has donated. This was a huge boost for me that she came. I had never met her till 3 weeks ago. The last donor of the day signed up online and had no idea it was a party for Heather. His family is doing 10 community service projects this holiday season. He likes to give blood and he signed up. Many of Heather's friends came out to support us and give blood. It was so great to see her friends giving back. We had very very dear friends come by and support us. Not being able to give blood they still made the effort to come and be there. It was great to see everyone come out on such a very special day and event. At the end of the day we released the 23 balloons. It was quite a site to behold. It was so moving to see the balloons raising and "reaching" heaven. This will be a tradition every year.
 The evening was dinner at Chipotle. Yes we had chips. Once we returned home I realized how absolutely exhausted emotionally and physically I was. It was the best day ever. I felt that Heather was there and basking in all the glory that was hers to enjoy. Once the day was over, the reality that Heather is gone hit and hit hard. It was a feeling of extreme sadness and emptiness. It was the realization that many that we thought we could depend on for support decided again to erase Heather from theirs lives. I am truly saddened by the fact that they missed sharing such a monumental event in our lives. This was Are U Pink?'s first event and it was a success...not just a little one, but a huge success. The non-profit that I have created is doing good in Heather's memory for the community. WOW!! how many can say they are doing the same? So, it was a sadness that the same people who have for months left us alone, not mentioned Heather's name again, have missed out on something so incredibility special. 
This is to announce that United Blood Services and Are U Pink? will be hosting the 2nd Annual Birthday Blood Drive on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Yes, we have booked for Heather's actual birthday next year. United Blood Services actually called me to ask if we would do it again and they would make it huge. They are bringing the big bus and we have 50 appointments to fill. The goal is to collect from 28 people. This is an extreme honor to be giving such a huge amount of time and space. United Blood Services has seen that Are U Pink? can deliver the big numbers. This is a a great deal of pride and joy for me. My organization works.....Next year will be cake and balloons again. Looking to add a name drawing for prizes and possibly a band to come entertain during the afternoon. The first place for me to begin is to work on getting my 501c3-tax exempt status. This is require a tax accountant or an attorney. If you know of such a person who would like to help Are U Pink?..please let me know.....
Some thoughts on Birthdays and the holidays: 
Holidays will just never be the same for a parent who has a child residing in Heaven. New Year's rings in and you wish more than anything your child had lived to see another year. Easter approaches and you long for a MIRACLE to have occured and you would have had your daughter back on day three. Thanksgiving comes around again and you wish you were as thankful as others whom sit down to a meal with all of their children, grandchildren present and accounted for. "The Birthday" comes along and a day that you have celebrated and planned parties for over and over is suddenly ended with no warning.  And Christmas decorations, commercials and music are everywhere you go and you can't help but to long more so for that child than any other time of year.
video

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Little Angel.....

You were our little angel
we loved to hold so close,
the softness of your baby skin
like petals of a rose.
We loved it when we cuddled you
and held you in our arms.
You were our little angel
with sweet angelic charms.
We think back to memories
so precious and so few,
for one day God had chosen you
to be his angel too.

Happy 23rd Birthday, my angel, Heather.
Christmas 2005
 Heather's all time favorite character of The Peanuts gang is "Sally' Charlie Brown's little sister. She loved Sally and I think in some ways Heather was like Sally. Very sweet and innocent. When I made new Peanuts stockings a few years ago of course I made Sally for Heather. When she got married I would make the matching Linus to go with Sally. 
 In our yard every year for the past 7 years we have put up plywood peanuts cutouts. When Heather died I knew that the character I would make for the yard. Of course it would be Sally. In the Peanuts Christmas story, Sally plays the Angel. How perfect is that??? So last year I made Sally~ "The Little Angel". We made a wire halo and placed a sting of lights so that is really looks like Sally is an angel. After Christmas I decided to leave Sally in her spot till April. I felt it very appropriate to leave her up.
This year as we put the yard decorations up we had several people drive by and tell us how much they love our decorations and they look forward to seeing what new character we have made. A neighbor that I didn't know came down and asked me if she could ask what the story was of the little angel. She noticed that she stayed up long after Christmas but then came down. She knew there must be a story behind her staying up. I told her the story of Heather and Sally and she began to cry. She told me it was the most beautiful story she had ever heard and what a touching tribute to our daughter.
Our neighbor across the street asked if I was planning on leaving the angel up like last year. I told her yes. She told me she was so happy. She loves to look out the window and see the angel in the yard. So yes, "The Little Angel" will be proudly standing in the yard well after Christmas. This year I bought a set of blue LED net lights for the shrub in front of the hill where the Sally angel stands. Jenn commented that it looks like a cloud and Sally is above the cloud looking down.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Shoes....

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight...
~Christmas Shoes~

Thanksgiving was not terrific. But I have come to realize it was the springboard to the downward slide into a depression that cannot be described. It is a feeling and there are no words to describe it or where it comes from. It was not planned and I tried to avoid it by being upbeat in hopes that I could fight off this unwelcome visitor. But, December 1st hit and my depression visitor came in. Depression has made himself comfortable for a long winter's nap. I really don't need a calender to know when dates come around. My internal clock seems to know by its self. It doesn't matter how I try to "be happy" it doesn't help. Doing things doesn't help...it may take my mind off of Heather for a few moments or even hours, but as soon as I am alone or my mind is not busy, in he creeps...smoking and making a mess out of my life for a time being.

I have cried ever day so far since the 1st of December for one reason or another. Heather's birthday, Christmas without her, cancer, the happy times, you name it and it has been through my mind. On Thursday I spent most of the day alone. This was not a good thing. This was probably the worst day I have had for awhile. It was the day I needed to get everything for the blood drive. Here again, another point for tears; wanting to do the blood drive, but sad for the reason why. Feeling that Heather would be happy we are doing this huge event, but sad because she is not going to be here to see it. As I ordered Heather's "special" birthday cake it began to hit me I am planning a party and that made me happy and feel good. But then the fact that the guest of honor is not here made me very sad. So I went on to order the big cakes at Costco. Another happy Heather moment she would be so thrilled, but sad again. Then to Discount Cards to get the plates, forks, napkins and order 23 balloons. Of course I found the perfect napkins, princess with pink and butterflies. As if they were made special for me. All the supplies and the balloons are in the Are U Pink colors of lime green, hot pink and neon orange. It all is perfect.
As I am running all my errands in DOLYGRL Christmas music is on the radio. It is the time for all those wonderful songs of the season. A few that come on make me stop for a moment and think. As I left I was taken by complete surprise as the song "Christmas Shoes" came on. I sat there and cried and cried. I had lots of thoughts....the thought of Heather not being here for Christmas and then it changed to what did I get her for her last Christmas? I had no idea it was to be her last Christmas. All of a sudden I was overcome with trying to remember what I got her for Christmas. I did remember but that seemed to make the tears fall even more. I will probably make a point not to listen to this song again for a really long time. It just hits way to close to home for me.


Every year for Christmas I have the girls fill out a form called "My Christmas List". This gives me a good idea of what they would like to have for Christmas. This does not mean they get anything on the list, just gives me an idea. When I was going through my crochet project bags I came across Heather's Christmas List for 2008-her last Christmas. It is very cute the way she wrote this out. So, as you get those gifts and think about who gets what, maybe just a little something extra special can be given. You really, really never know when it will be your last Christmas or theirs...
click on photo to enlarge to see what Heather wanted for Christmas

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

She Who Must Not Be Named...

Ron: "You and Hermione have stopped saying 
You-Know-Who's name!"
Harry: "Oh, yeah. Well, it's just a bad habit we've slipped into.....
But I haven't got a problem calling him V --"
Ron : "NO!.....his name has been jinxed...."
~Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows~

This is a quote from the Harry Potter series about Lord Voldermort. In the books nearly everyone calls him "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named". To say the name is taboo and brings chills and shivers to anyone who hears his name.  With the new movie I decided that this is what Heather has become "She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named". It is easier for everyone not to say or hear her name. Especially when talking to us. Like Heather's name is cursed or a taboo or a pox will fall upon you if you speak her name. Like I said in the last blog, use her name. I like to hear it, I gave it to her for a reason. It is ok if you talk about her with me. I need to hear that. She is and will be forever a part of our lives. I currently do and will continue to talk about Heather. Most of the time I do it in the tense that she is still here. Sorry to all those who cannot accept this. I have stated before, that I am not the same person I was before April 2009. The new me is quite different but if you look closely and try to understand, you will see bits of the old me peeking out. This is why I am so comfortable with my inner circle of friends. I cannot say thank you enough for standing by me for the past 19 months.

As to the holidays....where to begin. I can almost fool myself into thinking as I cook all day on Wednesday that Heather is working. This is where she was for 4 years. She worked every Wednesday before the holiday. It is when we go out to dinner and a movie, as is our family tradition, that the empty seat really hits. As I cook all day on Thursday and begin to watch all the Christmas movies and she is not here that it really becomes clear. Heather will not be sitting at our table now or ever and it begins to hurt. The hurt is a deep heart hurt that will never ever go away. This hits every single holiday of the year, but some holidays are much more difficult than other. We survived this Thanksgiving. The girls left to go do other things and so Bill and I ended up at the movies for a double header on Thanksgiving night. This was something new to do. When all else fails...go to the movies.
Our Turkey Feast this year....
 A simple meal out can turn into a Heather memory faster than light moves. One of her favorite places to eat was Chipotle. For the most part she got a burrito bowl with rice, black beans, barbacoa, sour cream, cheese and lots of lettuce. Then came the lime/cilantro chips and diet coke. Perfect meal. Heather would dig through the bag looking for the puffed up chips with pockets of air in them, or the crumpled over into themselves chips. These were her favorite chips. Problem is, they are her Dad's favorite kind of chips as well. One of the last meals we had there the two of them were digging and fighting over the chips in the bags. We were all laughing and it was a great time. So, the other day when we ate there, guess what we found in the chip bag...you got it, the prized chips. As the chips were brought out of the bag the memory was there of Heather loving those chips.
Favorite rolled chip....
Are U Pink? is holding Heather's Birthday Blood Drive. This will take place on Saturday, December 11, 2010 from 11am-4pm. This is being held at Arizona Mills Mall Entrance #5. United Blood Services is the one we have partnered with to handle the blood. Heather received 20 units of blood from United Blood Services. Please click the link below and sign up for a time to donate blood. During this holiday season, give the gift of life to someone. This gift costs you nothing and 100% of it goes to help someone. There will be cake and balloons. Balloons will be signed and then released at the end of the blood drive.
Happy times-Heather's graduation-2005
I would like to share with everyone an email that I received from a friend. No, she has not lost a child, but she has tried to put herself in my place, come along side me and tried to comprehend a small portion of what I might be going through. I appreciate this friend very much...

Morning Lady Bug,
 
Just re-read November 20th.  I thought about the last two years and the stages that you as a family have gone through and like I told you once or twice last year.  You, Sherry are where YOU are supposed to be in your grieving stage.  Grief is a strange creature.  It is not the same for everyone.  The colors, tastes, smells and memories of grief take on different meanings for all of us.  I also told you, that you don’t “Get over” something like the loss of a child. YOU LIVE WITH IT according to how you and GOD work through it.
 
Your children are a very big part of your life and who you are.  Heather didn’t just exist, she THRIVED and was a productive part of life for you and your family and those of us who knew her.  I think I told you that there were going to be two steps forward and about 20 backwards at times.   Holiday seasons will probably always be the hardest for you my dear friend.  Your family always did the holiday season up big with your decorations and hunting for that perfect gift for the girls.  The gift hunting came in threes. That is an odd number.  GOD made flowers grow in odd numbers their petals are in odd numbers.  Florists arrange in odd numbers.  NOT EVEN NUMBERS.  You go to take that “third step” then you stop, it is weird not to take that third step.  Taking that step is so ingrained in your very fiber not to take it means something is wrong.  Oh yes, and it is wrong, it is not supposed to be this way.  You live, you grow up, you get married, you have children, they grow up, they get married, they have children, you get old and then YOU DIE, not you watch your child die.  There will always be steps missing where Heather is concerned, she is not here to complete those steps of life and that is just wrong in the scheme of life as we thought we knew it.
 
You don’t have to be thankful that Heather is in Heaven, you want her beside you minus the pain.  What you can be thankful for when YOU are ready is the fact that she was a Christian and let that light shine to those around her and even those who did not know her well, knew there was something different about her.
 
Just some thoughts for you.  Some days are OK, some days SUCK, some days you just are.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Someone Please Remember....

I have been told that as long as one person remembers Heather she will never be really gone. As time goes by I really begin to wonder if anyone remembers her at all. Life moves on for everyone, but I still want Heather here. Yes I am very selfish. When I begin to have huge pity parties for myself I am boldly reminded that people were touched by her life. So I would like to share a couple with you:

While recently shopping at Kohl's, I was caught off guard by the lady at the jewelry counter who had worked with Heather. Heather worked at Kohl's for over 2 years and loved it. There are a few that she worked with that really loved her. I was looking at a piece of jewelry and I needed 2 of them. The lady asked if I had twins...I said no, my daughter died and this is a special gifts for her sisters so I need 2 of them. She told me how sorry she was. I went on to say that she worked here at Kohl's. The lady turned around and looked at me and said, you are not talking about Heather are you? I said yes, I am her mother. The lady told me her name and she she absolutely loved Heather. She went on to tell me how wonderful she was. I just lost it...crying at the jewelry counter at Kohl's. I was so moved and touched that after nearly 4 years of Heather being gone from Kohl's, people still remember her...

About a month ago I was shopping on a moody day for me at the Santan Shopping area. This area is further away from our house and I figured I was safe to go and not run into anyone there. I was picking up some more "sweet cinnamon pumpkin" and "winter" candles at Bath and Body Works when the cashier told me how much she loved the 2 scents I was buying. I said I loved them too. That they were my daughter's favorite and she had died last year. The cashier looks at me again and says don't you shop at Superstition Springs Bath and Body Works? I said yes..She told me I know you, your daughter worked there right? I said yes...She told me she was the manager at that store but happened to be at this store today. She told me how much she enjoyed Heather and how sorry she was to hear about her passing. Of course I walked out of the store in tears...even at a totally different place that when she worked...people still remember her..

If you have ever had a major health issue you know that you can become very close to the nurses and doctors that treat you or your loved one. During Heather's cancer we were and are still very close with several new friends we made. I firmly believe that we touched most everyone we came in contact with during our ICU stay. We had one doctor in particular that I feel was very touched by Heather and our family. He came in on days off and was in to check on us several times a day nearly everyday. During the 33 days Heather was in the hospital he had his partners check on us only a total of 4 days. Other than that...he was there working. He was working when he wasn't there. He was calling other hospital and doctors to see if somewhere there was something he didn't know about that would work for Heather. He truly gave his all. This of course is not to say that the other doctors we had were not as good. Dr. F, Dr. A and Dr. Z gave their all. The day that Heather died this doctor came in and talked to me. It was just me and him. He got choked up and said he wanted to tell me something but he couldn't say it to me, but he could write it down. After he wrote it, I read it..he touched my arm and walked out. We came back the next day and gave him a "Heather" bunny and I know...he still remembers her...
On a day when everyone is giving thanks for all they have been blessed with...please remember these words. Written by Dr. Zachariah on April 20, 2009

Saturday, November 20, 2010

..........."IT"

For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.
 My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book
   before one of them came to be. 
~Psalm 139:13-15~

From the moment I knew that I was pregnant I called the unborn child a baby, my baby, or the baby. I never ever called my babies an "IT". I have never felt like the unborn baby I was carrying was an "IT". The baby had life from the moment of conception, therefore the baby was never an "IT". The baby although being grown inside me was a person..not a thing. Of course once the baby is born no one would ever dream of calling the baby a thing or "IT". How rude that would be to the new parents. As children grow they are never called a thing or an "IT". They are kids, boys, girls, young people, brats or trouble makers, you can take your pick...but never an "IT". An "IT" to me is an inanimate object like a table, chair, dish, brush, yard rocks or many, many more things in my world. "IT" has no feelings or emotions. "IT" does not live, go to work or school or grow older. "IT" is just that...an "IT".
Heather-23 days old
Imagine how it feels to have people come ask you "is "IT" getting easier?  Is what getting easier? The state of the economy? The war in Iraq? The fight against cancer? What? Is what getting easier? I know what the "IT" is..."IT" is-the death and terrible loss of Heather that ripped our world apart. They want to know if  "IT" is getting easier. When people loss a spouse or a parent most people ask the question with the person's name in it or the position that the person had. Example; Is life getting easier for you since Bob died? Are things getting back to normal since your mom passed? Heather was not, is still not nor will she ever be an "IT". You have my permission to use her name. It really is okay with me to use her name. I like her name. I like to hear people use her name as well. This past week I was overwhelmed by this question by well meaning people. After the 4th time I was asked is "IT" getting easier? I felt like crying uncle already. I give...enough. Don't ask me unless you can use her name. Heather Nicole Coombe had a name from the moment she was born. It is on her birth certificate and her death certificate. They do not say that "IT" was born and "IT" died. Please stop to think before you ask this question. A nicer way to ask the same thing is....Is it getting easier since Heather died? This puts the "IT" to mean life or routine. This does not call Heather the "IT". So for the rest of my life...it will be "IT". I have an answer to this question. You may not wish to hear the answer. I am going to be honest. AWWW hell no!!!! This is not getting any f---ing easier.
Heather-3 years old
The holidays are focused on families, all the great times and food. It is only a huge slap in the face at every commercial that I will never ever have my entire family together again this side of heaven. Last year I was in a fog and I just barely made it through. So the 2nd year..only the 2nd year without Heather and it seems impossible again. Imagine that for a minute; all the Norman Rockwell holidays will never exist for me. I look at photos of other families; having all the grown kids with spouses and grandbabies home for the holidays. The fun of decorating everything from the tree to sugar cookies, playing in the snow, movies, food  and the final blow of opening the gifts. I said before that I am looking on the outside window of the toy story, longing for the things I cannot have.
Heather-16 years old
I know everyone will have a list of things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. I have a small list starting with Pea, Bill, Jenn and Wendy. But then I get to the part about my daughter residing in Heaven. I know most would say I should be thankful for my beliefs and thankful that I know Heaven exists. I will not say I am thankful to have a daughter in Heaven this Thanksgiving or any other Thanksgiving to come. IT does not add comfort for people to tell me Heather is in heaven. I know where she is..and it is not any easier. I can't say that childhood cancer was a blessing to our family or life. It added nothing to my life. I am not thankful that I watched my daughter get toxic chemicals pumped into her body 8 different times for days on end, all the steroids, placing her on a vent, sticking her with nasty chest tubes, all the IVs, tears and sticks, watching as they bagged her for over 45 minutes and laying next to her for 2 hrs as she left this earth. I am not thankful for any of that in any way, shape or form. I can't say that I am thankful that Heather is no longer fighting cancer, because if she was fighting cancer, that would mean she was still here. And for that, I would be ever so thankful.
Heather-18 years old
I I had heard that the 2nd year after a child has died would be worse than the 1st year. My thought was how is that possible. The 1st year is such a fog, a blur, with extreme sorrow and loss that it is a very hard get up each day. How could anything be worse than that. Well, the 2nd year has everyone moving on with their lives while I stay in 1st gear. Heather's friends are getting married or having babies. Things that Heather will never do. The people that stood by us now are growing tired of us still grieving. Why can't we "just get over "IT" already. What exactly is the "IT" that I need to get over? I need to get over Heather's life, her memories, her death?? 
Heather-20 years old
No, this is not my mood all the time. Most of the time I don't think people expect us to be doing so well. Most of the time no one would ever know that I lost a daughter. I don't wear a sign around my neck that says I lost a daughter. I have always said I would be honest and open with my feelings during this life change process. These are my honest feelings as to the "IT" question. I am sorry if I offended anyone. But, if someone going through the process doesn't share the thoughts and feelings how would you know what to say?