Monday, June 28, 2010


What is Normal Now?? ~ Vicki Windham
NORMAL is having tears waiting behind every smile when you realize that Heather is missing from all events in your family's life
NORMAL is having the TV on the minute you walk in to the house to have noise because the silence is deafening

NORMAL is not sleeping well because a thousand "what if's" go through your head constantly

NORMAL is feeling like you can't sit through another minute of church without screaming because you don't want to be there, and yet at the same time feeling like you have more faith in God that you ever had before

NORMAL is telling the story of your child's death as if it were an everyday common event and then gasping in horror at how awful it sounds, and yet realizing it is now part of your normal conversation

NORMAL is coming up with how to honor Heather's memory and birthday and how to survive those days

NORMAL is new friendships with another grieving mother and crying over our children and our "new" lives

NORMAL is being too tired to care if I paid the bills, cleaned the house, did laundry, or if there is any food in the house~let alone cook it

NORMAL is hiding all the things that have become "normal" for me to feel, so that everyone around me will think I are still "NORMAL"
Heather, Jenn and Wendy 1992

I am reminded on a daily basis that "normal" is only a setting on the dryer. Something that we switch on to dry a load of clothes. Otherwise it does not apply to anyone's life. If your life is "normal" give it a few days, weeks, months or years and it will not be normal. I promise that one. I had a "normal" life. I live in a normal house on a normal street in a normal neighborhood in Mesa. I have normal furniture on normal carpet and tile in normal rooms in my normal house. I have normal family photos hanging on the walls and normal knick knacks scattered throughout my normal house. I have a normal dog, cat and 3 bunnies, although everyone else in my normal family would beg to differ with me that the pets are NOT normal. I had normal daughters wearing normal clothes and doing all the normal things that kids and teenage girls do. I have normal cars, although here again, a bright school bus yellow Xterra and a smokin' red hot Camaro are not really normal vehicles. I had normal meals, holidays and birthday celebrations at my normal house with my normal family. I had the normal kids sleepovers and friends hanging our at my normal house. I watch normal "girl" TV, except soap operas-a waste of time.... ha ha ha
Heather gets Easter nightgown 1999

I had a normal life till one day a small little normal blood cell, so tiny you have to see it with a microscope...decided it didn't like to be normal and it became abnormal. This tiny microscopic cell had a huge effect on all the normal cells around it. Soon all that was left was abnormal cells and these abnormal cells suddenly impacted Heather's normal body and it was invaded with Cancer. Very quickly my normal life was turned upside down. There is nothing, absolutely nothing normal about cancer or anything that goes with it. The treatments are not normal. Losing all your hair is not normal. The weird looks you get from people when they see your daughter go out with her bald head is not normal. My life was normal..or so I thought. A tiny cell  decided to go abnormal and the first swollen lymph node showed up in October 2007. My so called normal life disappeared forever on April 10, 2008. The day we discovered what the abnormal cell was called. T-Cell Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoblastic Lymphoma and Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Someone asked me once how long it took me to learn what Heather had. I told them I memorized it the first time it was said and I will never forget it.
Grandpa and Heather play Monopoly May 2005

Then when we all thought that life was normal again, something else abnormal had to come and shake my world at the very foundation it was built on. Not so normal things like immune compromised, pnuemocystis pneumonia and ARDS came into my normal life. I began to learn the normal terms of doctors and nurses. Normal people talking to me thought I had a medical degree. Normal people do not know about ICU, mechanical ventilation, blood gases, PEEPS, arterial lines, chest tubes, and many more things that are in my normal vocabulary now.  My once so called normal life disappeared forever and I have to find my "new" normal life with all my same surroundings but without my Heather. Things can never be "normal" again...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why Is Losing A Child So Different???...

I noticed during this last holiday, Father's Day, that on FaceBook everyone that had lost their Dad was making memorial tributes to them. Many had comments like.. " I still miss your Dad" or "Not a day goes by that I don't think of him and smile"...and the list goes on. Many of these Dad's have been gone for years. How come daughters and sons can post how much they miss their Dad or Mom and every one is fine with that. Everyone states that they sympathize with what they are dealing with. My question is why can you miss a spouse or a parent for many years and post about them, but I am seen as a nut that I cannot get over the loss of my daughter. I make posts and it goes into the dead zone. No, I am not looking for everyone to leave comments and say things. Yes, it goes against the natural order of things and no one really wants to hear about it. Face one wants to hear how difficult this is because it might make them hurt or cry. It is too difficult to think about losing a child.
Bill with his mom

Bill and I both have lost a parents. Losing a child is nothing like losing a parent. Bill's mom, Margaret, died in Oct 2004. Yes, I remember the morning very well. I was with her when she died. I stroked her hand and told her everyone would be ok. We would take care of things and she could go home. I remember everything about the last few hours I spent with her. Every time her birthday comes along and the day she dies I think about what the day is. Bill stated that losing his mom was hard...but nothing like losing Heather. Losing his mom hurt 100%..losing Heather hurts 100,000,000,000% more.
Heather with Grandma Coombe May 2004

I was 9 years old when my adopted mother, JoBeth, died. She had a massive stroke and was lying in the bedroom floor for hours before we could get a doctor there. This was when malpractice insurance was sky high and doctors didn't make house calls anymore and before 911..She has been gone for 35yrs and I still remember the events that happened. Yes, I have gotten over this because she was a very cruel woman and at the time I was glad to have her out of my life. The truth is hard to hear, but how I feel. I was set free from bondage when she died. I to this day have no feeling for her at all.
Sherry with Daddy Jim~10th Birthday~1975

My adopted Dad, Jim, died when I was 7 months pregnant with Wendy. This was a very difficult loss for me. He was my best friend growing up. He was my Daddy. That is why it took me 14 yrs to find my birth father, Harry. Out of respect and the fact that I didn't want to replace him. I was not there when Jim died. Looking back it was better that I was not there. I would not have been able to handle it with being pregnant with Wendy. Yes, even though I have found my "real" father. I still think of Jim and remember the day he died and his birthday. The amazing news is I get to someday go through this with my Daddy, Harry. One of the biggest reasons why I waited. How do I go through the whole thing of losing a dad again? Especially when Daddy and I are 2 peas in a pod..we are just alike. He explains why I am the way I am..carbon copy. This will be a very difficult loss for me someday.
Grandpa Harry with Heather~Jan 2005

I tell you this because I do know the pain of losing a parent. And I will tell you, the death of Heather, my daughter, does not even go into the same ballpark. It is not comprehensible to begin to explain the hurt and pain of one day your child is there..and the next your child is gone forever. Along with all your hopes and dreams and future with that child. Their wedding day, future children and all the fun family times to be had for many many years to come. In one moment, everything is gone. You cannot hold your child or listen to their voice. Life as I knew it is gone, changed forever and my future with her in my life is gone forever as well.
  Bill with Heather~Red Lobster~2006

Heather and I had a very special relationship before she got cancer, but when the"C" word entered our life we were not only mother/daughter but put into protector at all costs/innocent, unable to fight, co-conspirators and the closest and best friends. We had to lean on each other because together we were the only stable part of our ever changing and crazy daily life. In a single moment I lost my daughter, my friend, my "job", my confidante and the single reason to get up each morning. Cancer kids and their caregiver have a special bond that wouldn't otherwise exist. I had Heather for 21 yrs...For the last year she was here, I fought doctors and nurses, wrote down nearly every word that was said, have mounds of test results and put myself last to see that her every need, want or desire was met. This is not even mentioning all the procedures I held her hand through or nights of sleeping in her hospital bed because she would not sleep alone. It is not just simply that my daughter died, but all the things that led up to it.
Panoramic photo of Heather and me in her decorated room..I put things up 
all over the walls..High Dynamic adjustments to photo

One of my best co-conspirators moments is...Heather always wanted to run away when she was in the hospital. She lived for the very few times she was unhooked from the IV pole. We would go into the cafeteria and she could get whatever she wanted. (Patients are not allowed in the cafeteria due to food restrictions and the workers not knowing) On one such unhooked occasion, she so wanted ice cream. There was a Dairy Queen at the end of the hospital driveway. So, she put on her jacket, we told the nurses we were going for a walk and went to DQ for blizzards. It was the best time ever. Yes, we broke the rules...but what did it hurt now? Nothing and it is a great memory for me. Now patients are allowed down at DQ so they can smoke..go figure..

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Wisdom Of A 7 Year Old...

When I bow my head tonight
There'll be no more me, myself and I
Just watch my wife and kids please Lord
That's all I ask for anymore... 

Let'em outlive me by a hundred years
Let their laughter dry up all their tears
Let'em love and be loved back like I have been...
Trace Adkins~All I Ask For Anymore 
Sherry, Heather, Jenn
Wendy Oct, 2001

Mother's Day and Father's Day have a whole new meaning to me now. For about as long as I can remember Mother's Day has never been something that I celebrated with joy. I have not been to a Mother's Day church service in many years and really don't plan to attend another one while on this earth. It could be when I was 10 yrs old and my Dad-Jim-took me to the cemetery on Mother's Day to place flowers on JoBeth-my adopted mother's grave...or when I was 12 yrs old and I got a massive staph infection and received 3 days of shots or last year when I gave birth to 3 daughters but only had 2 to celebrate with. The fact that I never have had nor will I ever have a mother? It is hard to understand that in a blink of an eye your life can go from "normal" to changed beyond your imagination. The normal things of life are now so very difficult. You just want to erase the day, but you have other children that need to show you they love you as their mom or dad. It is still one more reminder of the one that is missing.

I shared the story of Olivia-who died a few weeks ago. Olivia would write her jokes and thoughts on her CaringBridge. Oh how I loved to read the words of this amazing 7 year old girl. She had such insight. On this special day I would like to share the conversation between Olivia and her mom on Mother's Day. They were driving to Church. Olivia was asking questions about a mom whose son had just died:

Olivia: "Mama, are you sad for Luke's mama? Is she hurt?"
Mom: Yes, honey. He lives with the Lord now, but a part of 
him will always live in her heart. As long as they are apart, 
her heart will hurt."
Olivia: "Is that what you call a broken heart?"
Mom: "Yes, sweetie"
Olivia: "What's it look like broken?"
Mom: "It is not something you can see, Liv, the heart is still 
working, it means the way you feel inside"
Olivia: "Does love run out when your heart breaks?"
Mom: "I don't know, Liv"
Olivia: "How much love can a heart hold anyway?"
Mom: As much as we let it. A mama's love can not be 
measured, it is too big"

She sat quiet for a few minutes and then said:

Olivia: "I think it does leak out. I think that love leaks out and 
runs all over everything and everybody. And it does not stop
because there is so much. Sometimes it runs out in crying. And
sometimes it runs out in things mama's do for other people.
That's what I think."
Olivia: Does he miss his mom?"
Mom: "I think so. Kind of like when you are at school or 
a friend's house. You're having fun, but sometimes 
you miss you mom, don't you?"
Olivia: "Yeah, does it ever stop? The heart hurt, I mean."
Mom: "It will get easier. It will stop hurting when Luke and his 
mama are back together again."
Olivia: "And that's in heaven?"
Mom: "Yes maam"
Olivia: " Ok, yeah. That's kind of like getting out of the hospital 
forever, and being a family again. Forever and ever. 
That will be great!"

Olivia died 2 short weeks after this conversation with her mom. Her mom never realizing that she would be the one grieving the loss of this very insightful little girl. As I read this the other day I sat and cried and cried. These words touched me so deeply. Olivia's amazing thoughts of a broken heart and a mother's love.

I do things to keep Heather close to me. I probably will forever. I need to feel her as close to me as possible.  I very seldom take off her cancer journey necklace that she gave me. I usually have it on 24/7 and keep it very close. I wear her perfume, some of her clothes, jackets, her other jewelry and rings. Everything I do on the computer is done on her computer. I have many of her things out all over the house. It is very difficult not to buy things for her. I had done so for 21 years. I see something in a store that moves me to think about her. This week I purchased a webkin stuffed bunny named "Marshmellow". He is so Heather and she would have begged me for him.
As fathers everywhere celebrate today with their children no matter how old or young. Hug them tight and remember the small moments can last a lifetime if they have to. This song by Trace Adkins is a great song about how your value of things change as you you become a parent...take a listen and I hope you feel the same...

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Real Me...Beware...Brutally Honest!!!

You find out who your friends are
Somebody's gonna drop everything
Run out and crank up their car
Hit the gas, get there fast
Never stop to think "what's in it for me?"
Or "it's way too far"
They just show on up with their big old heart
You find out who your friends are

This is an email that I received on Thursday, May 27, 2010:
"I was reading the guest book comments from Olivia's page and your caught my eye. I started reading your posts on the caring bridge and your blog. The post about the questions got me (The Question-how many children do I have) I can't tell you I understand what you are going through. I never lost a child. My Kenny passed away last year. He was my husband, but not legally. I just wanted to write that I appreciate your bold honesty on both sites. I feel as though I can never be honest on them and say how angry I am and its just too painful. Because of family I try to write something uplifting but I can never find anything to say uplifting about this nightmare. I agree with you that the outcome is 90/10. 90% of cancer patients die. Olivia was the last one I knew from Texas and CaringBridge and now she is gone. Thank you for your gut wrenching and painful honesty. I find relief that I am not the only one that feels this way...."
Forever loving and missing Kenny~Heather R~
 I did not know nor have I ever met this lady...

It has been recently share with me that Heather has been dead for a year and I should be over this "thing". I have very shocking news for everyone...I AM NEVER GOING TO GET OVER MY DAUGHTER HEATHER DYING!!!! There I said it. I have been told I am stuck in the bondage of grief and I need to break the chains of bondage to move forward with my life. I have news for everyone again...I will grieve for my daughter for the rest of my life. It will always be in my heart and mind till my dying day. Losing a child is not something you "get over." I can live my life and move forward in very, very small steps, but I will never "get over" this.  It is out of the natural order of life and there is nothing like it. I am convinced that no other grief can compare to the mother's loss of a child. If you have not given birth to a child and then had that child die in your arms before your very eyes....YOU DO NOT GET IT!!! The grief of a mother is unlike anything else on the planet. I know this first hand. You can sympathize and you can try to imagine how horrible it might be...but you don't know till you have walked the road I have walked...personally. Knowing someone or being a friend with someone who has lost a child is not the same thing.

Like I stated before, my dear, dear friend and sister, Diane, lost Beka in 1998. I did everything I knew how to do..I called and sent cards. I visited and brought flowers. I listened and cried with her. I thought deep in my heart I got it..I understood just how and what she was feeling. I did to the best of my ability being on the outside looking in. But April 20th, 2009 I realized that I had no freakin idea. I was clueless. I didn't get that as each Sunday came around I would feel a huge sadness as this is the day we were told there was no hope.. Then every Monday for months I felt the death of Heather..because she died on a Monday. Every Saturday I felt restless and out of sorts, because this was her funeral day. I didn't understand that you almost panic at the thought of being with new people for the questions they will ask. How do you answer them. It is just easier to keep to your little safety bubble. I still to this day have a pain in my heart every Monday. I don't know how long till this pain goes away or if it ever does.

I am in no way trashing or bashing my dear peeps. My inner circle of friends. I thank you very much for all you have done for me. I could not have survived without you. I need your support and love, now and for many, many years to come. Even though you have not lost a child, you allow me to talk or be silent, and hug me when I need it. I don't need to explain the tear in my eye at a crazy moment. You come along side and try to understand. You allow me to be me. I can joke and laugh one minute and be in tears the next and I don't have to explain why.  For those few people who have allowed themselves to come with me on this journey I will love you forever.

I am hurt and angry for many reasons. There are people who expect me to get over Heather.  I am using Heather as an excuse to not attend parties or be with people. Saying that my blog is sick.  But mostly for people talking about Heather when they have no idea who she was. They have no idea what I am going through and they have never tried to understand. They stand on the side lines and judge me and the way I am handling the death of my daughter. I understand that they are not worth my time and trouble. But it still hurts to hear those words. I say in my heart that they have no right to speak her name. People do not like to mention her name or have me talk about her. The eerie silence that follows my mention of her name breaks my heart. The day Heather died she simply vanished completely as if she never lived to some. They cannot handle the loss. I am so sorry this is tough for them. Just imagine how difficult it is for me. Heather Nicole Coombe lived...she was amazing...and then she died...and I need to talk about her. I need to share her life and my memories. I need to surround myself with people who allow me to talk and share and do not judge.

Olivia's Mom Cindy explains it in a very good way:
"Grief is like water; you can immerse yourself in it only so long before you have to some up for air. Then, it is a constant downpour, with isolated moments of relief--like driving a car in the rain, it runs all over and around you, but go under a bridge and you have a split second of blissful peace. Then back into the constant downpour."

I have a few more "under the bridge" moments now than I did in the beginning. Last year, I felt like I drove for 1000 miles before I hit a bridge for relief and then it lasted for only a second. Now it feels like driving 995 miles and the bridge lasts for about 5 seconds. But I think this is improvement. Someday, the miles will be less and the bridges will last longer. But not today, and tomorrow doesn't look good either. I had my precious Dolly Girl for 21 years. I loved her, took care of her and shared her life for 21 years, 4 months and 10 days. So, I think it is only fair that I be given at least 21 years, 4 months and 10 days to grieve before anyone begins to ask me if I am over this "thing" yet.

To see Tracy Lawrence "Find Out Who Your Friends Are"....

Friday, June 11, 2010

And Then There Were Two...

Some broken hearts never mend
Some memories never end
Some tears will never dry
My love for you will never die
Don Williams~Some Broken Hearts Never Mend~

Since April 9th, 1990 it has been the 3 girls. Jenn, Heather and Wendy. Growing up they played together, got in trouble together, went to school together and dreamed of what it would be like to be married and live close together. Three peas in a pod. Jenn and Wendy were the bread and Heather was the peanut butter in the middle that held it all together. The 3 girls were very close as sisters. Heather was to be Jenn's and Wendy's maid of honor and Heather said she would pick them both because she could not choose between them.
Awana Bible Quizzing 2001
Jenn, Heather and Wendy

Here it is 2 days before Wendy's wedding and there is someone missing. I have felt it for weeks leading up to the wedding but now I am overwhelmed with the loss of one. There were suppose to be three. Bill is suppose to walk Wendy down the aisle to see Heather and Jenn watching and smiling. Heather probably would have sang at the wedding as well. She would have been laughing out on the dance floor and had the best time. Heather would have helped me with hair and makeup to make sure I looked perfect. We would have been shopping for Wendy's wedding dress and then for mine. She was my best fashion critic.
Coombe's Angels May 2005

Heather fell in love with Julia Roberts. She loved every movie she ever did. I mention this because as soon as Heather saw Steel Magnolias she had to do her hair like "Shelby" in that movie. She was so proud the day she finally figured it out. Heather always looked amazing, but when she did her "steel magnolias" hairstyle she was stunning. Heather would have been the first to get her dress..figure out her hair and makeup and made sure everything was perfect. Her hair was her crowning glory. She had the most amazing hair. It would do anything and hold any style. Heather loved her long hair so much and she looked so good with it.
Heather's "Shelby" hairstyle for Prom, 2005

As we celebrate this joyous occasion, it is another reminder that Heather is not here. Most figure that we are over this grieving thing, it has been a year and we are good with everything now. I will never be "over" this. This will never go away. Every holiday, every birthday, every wedding, every birth, every thing our family does is one more way it tears at my heart to know that Heather is not here. She will not be sharing this, we are moving on and changing and Heather is staying the same. Forever 21....Forever absent...
Coombe's Angels May 2006
Wendy, Heather and Jenn

I am struggling with being out of my circle of peeps. I am not comfortable being around people who are not in my inner circle. They don't understand the tear at what should be a happy moment. Most don't comprehend my loss and it is so very tiring to put on a "happy face" and pretend all is right with the world. My world stopped being right 416 days, or 59 weeks or 13 1/2 months ago. My world as I knew it came to an end. 

Some broken hearts never mend
Some memories never end
Some tears will never dry
My love for Heather will never die

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Necklaces, Rings and Other Treasures...

How do I get through one night without you
If I had to live without you
What kind of life would that be
Oh and I, I need you in may arms
Need you to hold
You're my world, my heart, my soul
If you ever leave
Baby, you would take away everything good in my life..
~Trisha Yearwood~"How Do I Live"

How long before you begin to go through your daughter's things. All the boxes and plastic totes that now hold every piece of her life. It is a horrible thing to walk in the garage and know that everything that belonged to your daughter in is a box. Her life is boxed, taped and sitting...and sitting...and sitting. There are plastic totes that live under my bed. These totes contain all the most precious things to Heather. All her Christmas ornaments, porcelain dolls and her prized polly pockets were lovingly packed and placed under my bed several years ago by Heather herself. Each night before I get in bed, I usually kick one of the totes...
 Top of white flower necklace-May, 2008

I have Heather's jewelry, makeup and perfume in my room. Except for the perfume that still sits on the shelf in Pea's room (Heather's room). These will be coming to my room in the next day or so. A few weeks ago I found a bracelet and a ring that were in her things that I love to wear now. I have gotten into designers, perfume, bracelets and rings. It makes me feel closer to Heather. When I wear her white flowered ring, I get the most complements on how lovely it is. Searched high and low to find the necklace and finally found it today. Whew!!!
Heather's ring and necklace~everyone loves

I took some time a went through the totes under my bed last week. I was able to get rid of a few things. Some junkie things that I have no attachment to what so ever. That stuff, what little there was, went to Goodwill...other things that she loved and treasured that I am not keeping are NOT going to Goodwill. So I have begun to find homes for a few of these items. One of the things that Bill and I began when Jenn turned 1 year old was the GrowingUp Birthday Dolls. These are porcelain dolls that count your birthday years from 1 to 16. Little did we know we would have 3 daughters to buy these for. However, each one of the girls loved and looked forward each year to getting her doll. So, what to do with all16 of Heather's dolls. I kept the #1 and the #16. Heather had to have the musical sweet 16 doll. I needed a special place for these to go. These little dolls are going to Emily, Cousin Steve and Cousin Amy's daughter. Heather sang at their wedding. I know that Heather would be so pleased with Emily having these dolls.
Heather's GrowingUp Dolls~2yrs-15yr
Heather loved Gwen Stefani~Harajuku Lovers and Betsy Johnson. (Any designer she loved) She had gotten me into Harajuku. Harajuku came out with doll perfume around the time of my birthday in 2008. Heather bought all 5 of the perfume dolls and then bought me "Music" Lover doll perfume for my birthday. Harajuku "Music" doll is my signature scent. Today at Macy's I found a "Music" Lover doll face ring. It called my name. Along with a Betsy Johnson heart, flower, worm ring last night. Heather would be thrilled that Momy has gotten so into designers.
Harajuku Lovers "Music" perfume Heather bought me for 
my birthday in 2008~"Music" ring I bought today

Betsy Johnson ring~very Heather...
I bought at Dillards yesterday..

I have had several people over the course of 2 years tell me that I am very open and brutally honest with my feelings. I recently received an email from a woman I have never met telling me thank you for my honesty and sharing my feelings. I know that some of these posts are difficult to read. I have tried over the past 2 years to help friends and family understand an small fraction of what I feel. I have lost many along the way...some have said it is too difficult to read. My thoughts on that are this...if this is difficult for you to read and look at...imagine how terribly, horribly, awful this is for me to live day after day after day after day...I can't wake up from this nightmare that is my life. When you lose a parent, spouse or sibling there are usually people that come to your aid and help you through your grieving. A parent who loses a child usually does it alone. It is too difficult for people to imagine who have not been there themselves. They begin to think about how terrible it would be to lose one of their children and they can not deal with it. It is simply better to walk away. Many people have walked away, but for everyone that walks away, God has given us new people to come along side and help us...Thank you!!

"For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten SON....God gave His SON!!! God did not give His brother, sister, mother, cousin, spouse or friend. He gave His SON. God knew that this would be the toughest loss a person can suffer. God gave His that grieving mothers can turn to Him and He says...I understand. I don't care what anyone says...losing a child is the toughest loss there is in the world.