Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A New Beginning...

You're gonna fly with every dream you chase
You're gonna cry, but know that that's okay
Sometimes life's not fair, but if you just hang in there...
You're gonna see that sometimes bad is good
 We just have to believe things work out like they should
Life has not guarantees, but always loved by me
You're gonna be....
Reba~You're Gonna Be

When God closes a door, He always opens a window...
Not that I would not give everything I had to be with Heather for one more second. But from the very first moment that Heather was diagnosed with cancer I thought there had to be a purpose, a reason why we were doing this. In the past week it has become very clear to me what I want to do. I want and need to celebrate life. If I only ever get 1 unit of blood or one person to sign up for the Bone Marrow Registry, it would be worth the one life it might change.

I am proud to announce that the official website for Are U Pink? is up and running. There will be things added in the coming days, but the bare bones site is up. I am very proud of this site as this is my first attempt at web page design. I did have help from Go Daddy where I have the webspace. Please keep praying and telling everyone you know about this very important new foundation. One day the life it could impact could be your...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bitter and Sweet...

"It didn't feel like the pain
had weakened over time,
Rather that I'd grown strong
enough to beat it".
~Bella Swan~New Moon

One of the happiest memories I have of Heather is right before her 16th birthday when we brought Mr. B.B.Bunnykins (Mr. B) home. Heather had a live bunny in her Kindergarten class in Minnesota. She has begged and begged for a live bunny for years. That day as we walked into PetsMart, the eyes of a very sweet Mr. B grabbed Heather and would not let her go. Mr. B had been an Easter gifts for someone. Whoever had him figured he was too much trouble or flat out didn't want him any longer and released him into a park. He was found hiding under some bushes having been chased by 2 big dogs. So this sweet, beautiful brown eyed bunny came to live with us. The first night he was with us he suddenly flopped to his side and Heather thought he was dead. When bunnies are very happy they flip to their sides to relax. This trick we call "dead bunny". Mr. B stayed in Heather's room for about 4 nights till he was deemed too noisy and moved to the family room. Mr. B comes out into the family room and loves to have his nose petted. He is also very big into foot petting. Meaning you can rub your feet all over him and he will lay down and enjoy it.
Mr. B's beautiful brown eyes
Obviously when Heather died, Mr. B became even more special at least to me. I have been giving him some extra love and treats since. About 2 weeks ago I noticed that he was having trouble with his back legs. Like he was losing control over them. I took him to the vet and she told me I had presented her with the ideal model of a perfectly healthy bunny. Due to his age of 7 1/2 yrs and the fact that it comes and goes, she told me that in her best medical opinion Mr. B has a brain tumor. She told me that until it was effecting his quality of life that he could stay at home. Once he was in pain, not eating or drinking it would be time for me to think about putting him down. Just like kids..I brought him home and we have had no issues really for over a week. Last Thursday, Mr. B began to have major problems. He has begun flipping uncontrollable in his cage. Flipping litter and things all over. He is losing control of his balance and back legs. His eating has slowed as well. Saturday I thought for sure that Monday I would be taking him in to be put down. While he is not cured..this episode for now seems to be over. He is staying in one place and we all feel that he is really looking for a place to die. While it does not look like Monday is the day, this will be coming in the very near future. While Mr. B is just a bunny, he was Heather's bunny and she loved him very much. Just another way that life is moving on.
Heather and Mr.B
 Do animals go to heaven? I believe the answer is yes they do. God did create the animals and they are very important in Biblical history. He knows that animals give us great comfort here on earth. I really can not imagine heaven without them. I have no Biblical basis for this, but believe in my heart that Mr. B will be with Heather soon. I am sure that some people will not understand this in any way, but planning on having Mr. B cremated and keep him for now. Someday it may be time to place him somewhere. But for me right now, this is the right thing to do.
Mr. B out sitting on the blanket I made Heather
That is the bitter part and now for the sweet....last year for Heather's birthday all I wanted to do was to curl into a ball and be left alone. This year I could not see doing the same thing. Even though that is what I really want to do (almost everyday). Heather would not want me to do this year after year. She would want me to move forward. Heather wanted to help people. She would give or do anything for anyone. With Heather's giving heart in mind I have wondered what do I do, where do I fit into doing something to remember Heather and benefit the community as well. 

I am proudly announcing the launching of "Are U Pink?" The first event is the 1st Annual Heather's Birthday Blood Drive to be held on December 11, 2010. This began a few days ago as an event to remember Heather and now it is becoming so much more. I am beginning the paperwork to Incorporate and then going for nonprofit tax exempt status.  When Heather died I thought I wanted to work with the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. But it seems to me right now this is a death sentence. I need to focus on life. So..Are U Pink? will focus on blood drives, getting people to register with the National Bone Marrow Registry and educating the community about blood cancers. My goal with the 1st blood drive is 150 units of blood donated. My lifetime goal is to have 10,000 units of blood donated over the years. I am very excited and feel this is a direction for me to move forward with. It is a way to remember Heather and bring life saving blood and info to the community.
Amazing logo
I have purchase a web domain name and will be launching the website soon. I am currently working on becoming incorporated in the State of Arizona. All the paperwork is confusing and time consuming. But I think in the long run it will be well worth my time and energy right now. I feel deep down inside that this is the beginning of something big. I have designed an amazing logo that will be on all our work. It is a butterfly, which means life. The top wings are lime green for lymphoma and the bottom ones are bright orange for leukemia. The body of the butterfly is the blood droplet in pink. Heather's favorite color, pink. By the way...Jenn might have mentioned the are you pink when I was talking to her. So only fair that I give her a few kuddos...The logo is copyrighted, so please do not use without permission first. For now, check out the Are U Pink? FaceBook page:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Sharp Knife Of A Short Life...

"Lord make me a rainbow
I'll shine down on my mother
She'll know I'm safe with you
When she stands under my colors.
Oh and life ain't always
What you think it ought to be,
No ain't even gray,
But she buries her baby."
~If I Die Young~The Perry Band

I love how Disney/Pixar movies can make you believe that monsters only scare you because it is their job to do so. That fish really have homes and children. Cars could possibly live in towns like Radiator Springs and maybe we really do need to visit old towns along Route 66. The longest thing that we have believed in is that toys are real and come to life when we humans are out of the room. If you have not seen the latest Toy Story then I highly recommend you do.
The day "Georgeanne" arrived April, 2009

With Toy Story 3 being fresh on my mind, I have begun to think about Heather's toys and things a little differently. I need to find homes for some things instead of just placing them in the plastic bag that goes to goodwill. For now, I have decided to bring all of Heather's belongs into the house. I may begin to sort through some of them and it is way to hot to be in the garage. When I brought the boxes and bucket into the house I looked at a couple of them. I noticed a couple of friends and I knew where they needed to go. Heather received many treasures during treatment but none more special than Chemo Bear, Princess Bear and Georgeanna Bunny. All 3 of them were made at Build A Bear and were given by 3 treasured friends. Chemo came from South Carolina, Princess was made right here in Phoenix and Georgeanne came from Colorado Springs. Today, Princess was returned to Julie. Chemo will be taking his journey via USPS back to Lynn. I could think of no better place for these treasures to go than back to the ones that loved Heather enough to make them for her. Georgeanne Bunny will be remaining with me and seems happy to be reunited with her bearfriend "Edison". Sorry Sally and George you cant have Georgeanne back. I promise to take good care of her..

I am not sure if people have a sense about when they might die. Certainly I don't mean that they know when they are going to die. I think there is a feeling or a hunch that comes over the person when they are close to dying. The peace of God that passes all understanding. It could be that they feel so badly that they wish they would die. I am not sure about this and I have no Biblical basis for this. In going through Heather's things when she died I found something that rocked me to my core. I remember reading this and sobbing my heart out. Did Heather know that her time was short? Did she have a feeling that she was going to die soon? If she did, she never said a word to me. She would not have said anything to me because in her words she had worried me way to much. She was not about to put me through more worrying and fretting over her. She was unselfish to the very end. Below are words that Heather wrote on March 7, 2009. She would be admitted to the hospital on March 19, 2009. Going back into the hospital I believe she knew. She never ever gave up hope...but I think she knew.

There is a new country group called The Perry Band. This group comes from Alabama. Kimberly, Reid and Neil are siblings that write and compose the songs they sing. The band has a new song out entitled "If I Die Young". They said this song fell out of the heavens as they wrote it on a cloudy day in east Tennessee. They went into the foyer of their home, which has great acoustics, threw up a microphone and recorded a demo. The video was shot on a cloudy day and is more expressive so it can capture the romance of the lyrics without over telling the story. I am not in love with the video, but I still find it captivating to watch. I hope you will listen to the words of the song. It is quite something...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Television and Other Such Memories

Anne Shirley: Would you please call me Cordelia?
Marilla: Is that your name?
Anne Shirley: No ma'am, plain, old, unromantic Anne Shirely
Ann with an "e"
~Anne of Green Gables~

One of Heather's all time favorites were the Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea miniseries. She fell head over heels in love with Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe. She longed for a bosom buddy like Diana Barry and a home on Prince Edward Island. Heather loved Anne's (Megan Follows) beautiful, long red hair. She always wanted to go and visit or live on P.E. Island one day. She bought the entire complete miniseries on DVD and would watch them over and over. She never tired of these movies. When the girls were younger we would watch Avonlea on the Disney Channel. It was a take off from the Anne of Avonlea series. Jenn happened across this on public television the other day. I sat and watched a few moments of it but left to go to the gym before the emotions of how much Heather loved these shows could overtake me. I think if I watched the entire series I would be in tears for hours. Heather and I would quote our favorite parts of the movies.

Television and movies have a crazy way of taking on a completely different meaning to me than to most people. When I saw Letters To Juliet...I cry at the remarkable performance of Vanessa Redgrave. She lost her daughter, Natasha Richardson. As fate would have it..Natasha died one day before Heather went into the hospital for the last time. Anyway...I cry at the part where she comes in to brush Sophie's hair. I have seen it twice and cried both times. Toy Story 3 gets me as I think of all of Heather's old toys that were looking forward to being played with by her children. For now they are day they will be played with by other children. But like Andy, I will have to find the right little girls to have these special toys. Then there is Last Song with Miley Cyrus. I cried so hard during this movie it took me 10 minutes to compose myself to leave the theater. I was not expecting that Miley played the Heather did. I also didn't expect the dad to have cancer. It completely caught me off guard.

I love the show Army Wives on Lifetime TV. Jenn, Heather and I began watching this show in June, 2007. In May, 2008 Season 2 began with Claudia Joy's daughter, Amanda, dying in an explosion. I cried and cried over the thought of this. Heather was going through treatments and it really hit too close to home. There have been episodes when it has mentioned the grief that Claudia Joy's character experiences. I have only watched one episode this season so far. I have recorded all of them since the new season began in April. I sat down the other night and began to catch up on the show when I watched the Mother's Day episode. It brought me to tears right at the beginning when Claudia Joy begins Mother's Day weekend with a visit to her daughter Amanda's grave. This was just the beginner of the tears for me in this episode.
Ann Margaret plays a visiting Aunt who's husband recently died and her son has been MIA since Vietnam. Claudia Joy and her are at a Mother's Day breakfast on base when the Aunt abruptly leaves after several families soldiers are brought home for Mother's Day. The conversation between these two women is very moving. I do believe the person that wrote this part has lost a child. They just get it...turn up the volume so you can really hear the words...This is what Mother's Day and every other holiday during the year are to me...nothing but heartache.

With the exception of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, in 2008 and 2009 I spent every holiday in the hospital. Either having awaiting test results, chemo treatments or in ICU. Think about that for a minute...every single holiday. It is really truly no real wonder why holidays are such a sad time for me.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Another Letter In The Mail...

 A Love Song
The mention of my child's name
May bring tears to my eyes
But it never fails to bring
Music to my ears.
If you really are my friend
Please, don't keep me
From hearing the beautiful music.
It soothes my broken heart
And fills my soul with love.
~Nancy Williams~

Another day is yet another chance to receive something in the mail that has Heather's name on it. The bills and bill collection notices have stopped. The medical bills have all finally to the best of my knowledge been paid and finalized. These would always send me right back to the date of service when I opened them. I usually would then have to get very nasty with the business office of the billing because they would always want to speak to Heather. Yet another thing that would rock my world when they would ask to talk to her directly. I used to tell them that she passed away and the person on the other end for some reason could not understand what I was saying. So I just began saying I am sorry she died. Straight to the point.

The never ending junk mail such as Express coupons, Neiman Marcus ads and Army recruitment still come on a weekly basis. Usually these are addressed to Heather Coombe or current resident. Try as I might I have not been able to get off these mailing lists. Once you are on them you stay for life or death...With so many outside bills and credit cards to deal with I had neglected to alert the Maricopa County Elections Dept that Heather died. Our family decided many years ago to vote by mail in ballot. This was very useful the past 2 years. I would not have been willing to go stand in line to vote for any reason. With these ballots coming to the house I still had my opinion count. I had thought about voting for Heather but then decided that this really was not a good or cool thing to do...unless voting in a new president. I figured that with social security being notified along with her driver's license that the elections dept would be notified as well.
 Mesa recently voted for a sale tax increase for education and Heather received her ballot. I wrote on the ballot that she had died and sent it back in. For some strange reason I thought they would just take her off the list and move on. This past week in the mail I received a letter from the Maricopa County Elections Dept. As I opened the letter I thought to myself that this could possibly be the last letter I receive about Heather. This is a good thing I guess..but still just one more way that she is being erased. So I filled out all the required information, signed it and returned it in the postage paid envelope.
It is difficult to feel so desperately inside that you want to keep everything about your child here and alive. In a small way as each thing that gets given away, breaks or stops coming in the mail is your child slipping further and further away. People react funny when I mention Heather's name. Honestly it creeps them out. I am trying with all my being to make sure that Heather doesn't disappear forever...and others wish I would not talk about her or mention her name. I like to talk about Heather, her life and how amazing she was. I love to tell stories about her life. I love to show photos of her too.

With each day that passes Heather's memory dies a little more. Someday there will be nothing left of her. As her Momy, her biggest supporter, protector and fan...I can not let that happen. I will not let that happen. So if I make you uncomfortable talking about Heather, too a bridge and get over it. Until my dying breath I will forever have 3 daughters...and I will tell stories about all 3 just like any "normal" mother would do...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I Carry Your Heart With Me....

I carry your heart with me
(I carry it in my heart)
I am never without it
(Anywhere I go you go, my dear;
and whatever is done by only me is your doing,
my darling)....
~E.E. Cummings~

Heather saw the movie "In Her Shoes" and she instantly thought of her relationship with Wendy and then Jenn. The poem that is read at the wedding is E.E. Cummings~I Carry Your Heart With Me. Heather, Wendy and Jenn all three latched onto this poem as their statement between the 3 of them. My 3 daughters were inseparable when they were younger. They played and did everything together. On several occasions, now to their disliking, they were dressed in the same dresses. Mostly for Easter that I had made for them. Now they give me a hassle for doing this to them. But what else is a mom to do with three girls.
Aunt Missy with Princess Pea~Feb, 2009

The past few years this poem has taken on a whole new meaning to the girls. Now that Heather is gone; each one of the sisters have taken this poem to be Heather's legacy to each one of them. Heather had a special relationship with Jenn and Wendy. Each one separate and different. Heather brought out the best and wilder side in Jenn. With Wendy, Heather tamed her a little and always saw the best in her. Heather was the middle and was the peace maker between the 3 of them. She could be more like Jenn when she was with her and then a little less conservative when with Wendy. Both Jenn and Wendy admired Heather for her style and love of life.
Heather's journal for Pea

Many things have happened in our family besides cancer the past 3 years. Heather loved her sisters with all her heart and life. There is nothing she would not have done for them. By the same token there is nothing that Jenn and Wendy would not have done or given for Heather. When Baby Pea was was the proudest and best moment in Aunt Missy's life. Unknown to Wendy or I, Heather began a journal for Baby Pea when she came home from the hospital. I found this in Heather's things when I packed them. She only wrote 6 pages. Heather began the journey she was writing with I Carry Your Heart With Me....
Heather begins her journal for Pea with I Carry Your Heart...