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


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?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Make Over....

Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
~Beauty and The Beast~

Beauty and The Beast was the 30th film in Walt Disney Animated Classics series. It made it worldwide debut on November 23, 1991. It is widely considered one of Disney's greatest animated films, and is the first of only 2 animated films to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. (The other being Disney/Pixar's 2009 film-UP) Beauty and The Beast was one of Walt Disney's original story ideas to bring to film. He began a version after Snow White in the 1930s and again in the 1950s, but ultimately gave up because it "proved to be a challenge" for the story team. Many animated films following Beauty and The Beast's release have been influenced by its blending of traditional animation and computer generated imagery. Upon seeing the initial storyboard reels in 1989, Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffery Katzenberg ordered that the film be scrapped and started over from scratch. A few months after starting anew, the director resigned and was replaced by first-time feature directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale. In addition, Katenberg asked songwriters Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, who'd written the song score for Disney's recent success The Little Mermaid, to turn Beauty and The Beast into a Broadway-style musical film in the same vein as Mermaid. With 6 nominations, this film currently shares the record for the most nominations for an animated film with WALL-E (2008). It won Best Original Song and Best Original Score for "Beauty and The Beast". It was the 1st ever animated film to win a Golden Globe for Best Picture-then it was followed by The Lion King and Toy Story 2.
Heather's all time favorite movie in the entire world is Beauty and The Beast. She saw the movie and fell in love with everything about it. Especially Belle. She had Belle dolls, sheets and clothes. For at least 2 years in a row she had a Belle birthday party. One year for her birthday we bought her the Beauty and The Beast talking mirror. This mirror lights up and says "show me the beast" as the beast flashes in the mirror. This was one of Heather's prized treasures. For older birthdays I managed to find porcelain Belle dolls; one in her yellow ball gown and one in the red dress. Anything Beauty and The Beast that I see I am instantly transported back to Heather being 3 or 4 years old and wearing her Belle dress for her birthday party.
As I passed the Thomas Kincade Gallery in our mall on October 20, I was utterly speechless as I saw the newly released Beauty and The Beast painting. I had to go look at the breath taking work of art. So, on the 20th of October on the 18 month anniversary of Heather dying, I purchased my 1st ever original Thomas Kincade painting. I find it very ironic that this painting was released in October as was the DVD. This was not by accident I don't believe.
When I returned home I decided that the place for my new painting would be in the living room, next to Heather's grand piano. To me, a very fitting place for this to be. The painting was to be ordered from the factory and I had no idea of just how long it would take to get it here. In the meantime, I decided that the living room and dining room needed a new look for this ever so special painting. So, knowing just what color I wanted to paint the walls, I began my remake of the rooms. I also spray painted all the white furniture glossy black to match the grand piano. So the grapevine wreath that had been in our home for 18 years was taken down and black shelves were put in it's place. When the painting arrived, my idea for the entire remake of the room was complete and perfect.
 As to the dining room, we had a Thomas Kincade paper print of a cabin on a lake. This would not go with my new Disney Princess and Minnie Mouse decor of the living room. In going through Heather's things I found the drawing we had made for her. Jenn, Bill and I took a trip to Disneyland in July of 2006 when Wendy was in Hawaii and Heather was in Myrtle Beach. We brought the girls back drawings from the Disney Animators. The drawings are done in 2 or more colors and show the circles and lines that are used to draw the characters. Then the actual character is drawn in a different color. The official animators seal punch is in the corner of the drawing. We had a Minnie Mouse Princess made for Heather. She loved this drawing and always wished to have it matted and framed for her room.
I decided to mat and frame this drawing along with 2 photos of Heather and a souvenir coin from our trip for her birthday in 2008. I had an idea in my head of what I wanted and what I thought it should look like. I took all the items to the frame shop and spent a long time looking at mats that gave it just the look I wanted it to have. Today, I received my matted and framed picture back and it is stunning. It is so amazing. It is more than I ever dreamed it would be. I asked that the coin be matted with mickey ears around it and that is the most amazing part of the whole piece. Heather would be tickled pink that this was framed and that is turned out so beautiful. The painting is hung next to a shelf that holds a Princess Minnie Mouse that Bill brought back from a Hong Kong Disney store for me. This sits right next to the newly framed artwork.
 My living and dining rooms are finished and they look and feel amazing. Not that it is a big deal, but any change right now is huge..It means the world, my world is moving on. I know we are suppose to move on, but it still hurts to the bone and feels awful-that time and life is moving on without her here. So, at least in my house, in my rooms, a Beauty and The Beast and a Minnie Mouse drawing hang as a daily vivid reminder that yes Heather did live, she did love Minnie Mouse and Beauty and The Beast. No matter how many days pass she will never ever be forgotten in my life.
Certain as the sun
Rising in the east
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
 Beauty and the Beast....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo......

Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo
Put 'em together and what have you got
Bibbidi bobbidi boo


Heather had purchased a dress for the ball. It was a plain simple one from Dillards. As time got closer I began to have my doubts about the dress. It just didn't seem to fit the evening. I suggested that we go to Suzanne's Boutique to look for a gown. October is not the time to go formal dress shopping. The only thing left are the dresses from prom that no one purchased. Heather tried on just about every gown in the shop. Nothing was just right. She had to deal with the fact that she would be coming off steroids. The gown had to have a bit of room to expand or shrink depending on how the chemo fell.
The blue gown was the last one they had and were not sure how it would fit. It was a smaller size than all the other gowns and we really didn't have hope that it would fit right. Once the gown was on and we laced up the back it was a perfect fit. This was the ball gown. The one that made Heather feel like a princess for her ball. The best news is that the back laced up so it could be tightened or loosened depending on what was needed at the time of the ball.

Heather had played with different wigs and different shades of makeup looking for just the right look. She tried an updo with the long dark wig with her tiara, but decided that she looked more like Cinderella if she went with the blond short wig. Her makeup was a smoky eye palette from Chanel. The perfume she wore that night was Victoria's Secret Rapture. This was my signature fragrance and I would let Heather wear it on special occasions. Only fitting that she would wear that fragrance on this special night.
When Heather finished her treatments I bought her a blue topaz and white gold "princess" choker. I thought that maybe she could wear it on her wedding day. This was purchased BEFORE the gown was bought. I had no idea that this would match and this would be the only time that she would wear this necklace alive. The matching earrings were given to Heather as a special gift from a special someone.
 The day of the ball was me getting my hair done for the first time ever in my life. My Daddy had flown in for the occasion. We all met up and had lunch at Subway. Then we went to the Arizona Golf Resort to check out the decorations and make sure that everything was done to my satisfaction. The cake was there and we were all blown away by how beautiful it was. Everything was absolutely stunning and perfect. As I knew the evening would be.
 All of us got ready. Heather and Daddy would stay behind and ride in the limo that would be arriving to take them to the ball. The one thing that had to be done is Heather had to be laced into her dress before I left. She had worked on her makeup and it was time to get her into the gown. Heather and I were joking and playing around about how much she had to suck in to fit into the gown. She had no wig on and her hair was just little duck fuzz at the time. We were all in a great mood. Jenn took the opportunity to take a few photos of us clowning around. As I left, I remember giving her a kiss and telling her I would see her there.
Later that evening as the ball ended, Heather rode home in a Jeep with the top off. Being the "girl" that she was, she didn't want to mess up her wig so she took it off. Heather had the best time riding in the Jeep and the looks that she was given when they stopped at lights and people looked over to see her in her amazing ball gown with no hair. Once everyone was home we all went out into the back yard and lit the rest of the long sparklers that we had for the ball. Then we came in and had more cake. It was just a time of laughing and having such a good time. Life was good.
So this day is remembered with tears and smiles blended together. Remembering how amazing she looked and how much fun she had. Five months later she would wear the dress, wig, tiara and jewelry again. Only this time it was not a happy occasion. The dress and the wig are gone forever. Only fitting that she be cremated in those. Her purse and shoes sit in the box they came in. The necklace and earrings sit in a velvet and satin lined box as well. Her tiara sits on the heart box that sits on the piano that holds her ashes. Absolutely will never be forgotten how amazing the evening was on 
November 8, 2008.

Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo as to how you make a princess

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pachabel's Canon...

Suppose you were only allowed 5 words to save the life of a friend...What would they be?

I asked this question on Facebook and I got one answer that really answered this question...
"Please Lord take me instead"

 This question was what E. B. White contemplated when he began to write the book Charlotte's Web. Of course we know the famous 5 words are Some Pig, Terrific, Radiant and Humble. These words were written in the spider's web to save the life of Wilbur the pig. The love of Charlotte for Wilbur is quite remarkable. It is interesting to think that animals could care about other animals this way. But the spider freely would give her life to save her friend...and in the end she does as she writes her last words in her web.

Charlotte's sacrifice is no different than that of a mother's love for her child. Mother's beginning giving up things the moment the baby is conceived. She gives up her body for the growing baby inside. Then gives up her wants and dreams to make sure her child has a life that is "perfect". A mother that has had a child with an illness knows all too well the words, "Please Lord take me instead". I am not making light of any mother that has lost a child in a different way...but to have to fight for the very life of your child bonds mother and child in a way that is like no other. Praying by a sick bed side; holding hands in comfort as procedures are done; wishing beyond all hope that it was you in that bed instead.Then helping your child as she throws up every 20 minutes for over 2 hrs; laying in the hospital bed at night and holding her hands to fall asleep so she will not be afraid. Listening to her every breath as she struggle to breathe; watching in horror as things are totally out of your control as you see her failing. Finally, trying to continue on with life after she is gone....
What is so amazing is I went through Heather's things when I packed them. I packed her room. Every single thing I touched or looked at. But, all these months later I go through her things and find things I have never seen before. I am painting the living and dining room. They have not been painted in the 16 years we have lived here. Heather's grand piano is in the living room. So all her piano music is sitting in there as well. As I went through her music again I found something I had not seen before. Heather loved to play classical and old gospel music. She took her hand at composing by putting Pachabel's Canon and Seek Ye First together in her own composition. I didn't realize that she had handwritten every single note on paper. I found her hand written copy of this music she composed. How I remember hearing this beautiful piece of music she composed. I can still hear the notes in my head. I would love to hear her play the piano one more time.
In all of Heather's piano recitals there was always a program. So she kept most all the programs from her recitals. I was looking through a couple of them and totally forgot that one year for the Piano Ensemble Concert program, Heather's artwork was one of three that was used for the cover. It is very similar to the stained glass piano box that she made for her piano teacher, Fran, and herself. It was so bittersweet to go through all the drawers and see all her music and music tests she took for awards. She still had all her piano ribbons from the tests she took each year. She was so proud of her accomplishments in music.
All the piano music is back in the drawers, the walls are painted a nice welcoming yellow and the new window toppers add a splash of color. Heather's grand piano sits silently closed up. Back in the front windows where she loved to sit and play at night so passersby could see her. The music that once rang out in the house just a distant memory that runs around in my thoughts from time to time....

So..what would be your five words to save the life of a friend?...