Thursday, February 24, 2011

Another Day...Is Just Another Day...

" As time passes, the pain dulls,
but we continue to define the place on
earth we now occupy as a shadow life...
We call it "  shadow grief." 
We have been dumped here by some force
far beyond our control, and it means
we now experience every event,
every set of circumstances, 
every morning, noon and night, 
every relationship, every nuance,
every grain of sand in a new way...engulfed in shadow."
~Beyond Tears~

As time goes by, things change. Some things I can control and others I cannot. Heather loved animals. She especially loved bunnies and cats. Losing Mr. B was beyond my control. It threw me into a tail spin to have this sweet little bunny out of my life. He had been part of Heather's life for 5 years. I am happy to say that Mr. B's ashes joined Heather's ashes in our special spot. I felt very good about placing Mr. B there. He would love it there and Heather would love having her bunny with her. 

Last Friday I made a change that was in my control but it was still very difficult for me to do. I took our cat, Chloe, that we have had for 10 years, to the Humane Society. From day one, she peed in laundry baskets. This was annoying but we learned not to leave laundry down. When Heather got sick the cat began peeing on other things. I feel this was her way to protest the change that was going on at the time. When Heather died, Chloe began peeing on the walls and on Heather's boxes. I tried to clean it all up and look beyond her peeing. Heather loved Chloe so much. I hated to get rid of her. However, last Friday, Chloe looked right at me and then hiked her tail and peed on the wall. That was the final straw. It has been very odd in the house without her here. I know Heather would understand. I cannot have the cat ruining everything. But it still was a very difficult thing for me to do.
Heather with Chloe
"  I am living a second life now. My life as I knew it ended. In order to go on, I would have to create a new life and in many ways a new me. Getting better is not returning to who you once were. You can never return."  ~Beyond Tears~

"  We keep photos of our dead children with us each day as well as talismans of our children. Whether it be a piece of jewelry, an article of clothing, or something symbolic about their lives, it is with us and it comforts us. No one else need long as we know."  ~Beyond Tears~

When Heather was hospitalized, she wore the journey cancer ribbon diamond pendant that she had bought for herself. She needed an xray, so she took it off and handed it to me. For the first time ever I placed the necklace around my neck instead of placing it in my pocket like I had done with the heart necklace prior to this. When she returned from the xray I told her I had her necklace and began to take it off. She told me "no mom, you keep it for me for now. I think I am going to have to have a lot more xrays. It is safe with you." So, I wear this necklace every day and every night. I am keeping it safe. I have only not wore it about 3 days in the past almost 2 years. This is my talisman for Heather. I always know it is there and therefore she is with me. When I go to Disneyland I wear the heart that has her ashes in it. I wear it everyday that I am at Disneyland. Again, I feel that she is with me at her favorite place when I wear this.
Her journey cancer pendant
I also try to wear lots of perfume. Most of the ones I wear are Heather's scents that she loved. Her philosophy was that you are not fully dressed without your perfume. Of course many of the scents take me back to some memory or event with just a hint of a smell. I feel as though I am wearing her essence when I wear her perfume. 

Heather loved jewelry, especially diamonds. So it is fitting that I am having some of her ashes turned into a red diamond. I can hardly wait to wear this most precious and extremely rare jewel. I received word that on Monday my diamond was finished. It is a diamond in the rough. It is now being shipped from St. Petersburg, Russia back to the USA. Once it arrives it will be cut, polished, certified and graded. Then it will finally be placed into the setting. If all goes on schedule it will still arrive the end of March or beginning of April. One small thing I added was a special engraving that will be placed on  the stone. It will only be visible under a microscope. This is highly recommended so that no one can replace your stone during a repair. So, on the day my diamond was finished, I finally figured out what I wanted it to say:


On a diamond so unique and special just putting the dates and her name didn't seem special. With Jenny's help we decided on using some of her nicknames. Nicknames are very important to our family. Each one of the girls have several nicknames. They change with age. As Pea aka Violet, already has several nicknames to follow the tradition. 

Dolly Girl-DOLYGRL-because when Heather was 2 I did her big girl room in dolly's. I called her my little dolly since then.This nickname is one that began at toddler age and continued for her life. As I held her when she died I kept calling her my dolly girl... It refers to her fragile and porcelain doll qualities.

Nuttbrownhare-NUTT-is for Heather's love of the book "Guess How Much I Love You" and her love of bunnies. This was her first email account name. This was the nickname that was in her jr. high years. Even one of the last cards she gave to me it was signed  "love you up to the sky and back... NUTT."

PRISSIE-refers to her love of the finer things in life. Her princess status. She always said she was a prissie girl. She loved hair and makeup. When she placed her name on her jacket for Varsity USA, she put PRISSIE. This was her high school coming of age nickname.

MISSY-was given to her by a group of friends on the Josh Turner fan club. This is also a name that she chose for herself for Pea to call her. She was ever so tickled about being Aunt Missy. This is a nickname that should have been with her till she was old and gray. Many people also put 2 of the together and call her 
miss priss..

HNC -of course are her initials Heather Nicole Coombe

"  We have learned that the best way to survive these torturous holidays that come our way is to develop mechanisms that will carry us through them or, better still, find ways to avoid them completely and allow them to pass unmarked and as quietly as possible. 

Unfortunately, our society finds such behavior almost unthinkable. Americans make much of holidays, so much so that we seem at times to slide simply form celebrating one "  special"   occasion to preparing for the next, and always with great fanfare. Labor Day barbecues have hardly ended and the toys of summer been stashed away than stores are overflowing with Halloween candy and Christmas trees."  ~Beyond Tears~

I noticed that as soon as Valentine's Day was over here came all the Easter things. Stuffed bunnies, cadbury eggs and peeps line every shelf of every store. This is probably right up there with Mother and Father's Day and Christmas for me. I really wish I could cancel Easter. Not the meaning of Easter as to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ....but when we were in ICU and Good Friday came...I told everyone..doctors, nurses and visitors that a miracle was coming. It was the season and time for miracles and I fully expected one. It didn't happen...or at least not the miracle I prayed for. Just the year before we spent Easter waiting the test results from the biopsy...and before that I had made special, personalized Easter baskets for all the girls every year. I had made matching Easter dresses and special dinner year after year. Heather loved Easter for all the bunnies. This was usually the time I would get supplies for her December birthday. Try to find bunny stuff in December. Her favorite candies were peeps and jelly beans. Her favorite bunny of all time was 
Jelly Bean Bunny...
Cool cat Heather with Jelly Bean bunny

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Love Potion 31.....

I scream
You scream
We all scream
For ice cream....

Who doesn't love ice cream, especially on a hot day in Arizona. So working at a Baskin Robbins/Dunkin Donuts would be a perfect 1st job. Our family was going to eat at Koyto Bowl close to the house when Heather noticed a sign in the window of Baskin/Donuts looking for help. As I ordered her food she went down to see if she could get an application for the job. Heather came running back all excited and said she got the job right there on the spot. She was 16 and this was her first real job. Of course one of the benefits of the job is a lot of the donuts at the end of the day found their way to our house.  Another one of the perks is you get to try all the flavors of ice cream as well. Heather loved to test all the new ice cream that came out. She worked there from February 2005 till June 2005. It would be the shortest job she ever held.
March 2005
For Valentine's Day 2005 Baskin Robbins came out with Love Potion 31. A new ice cream that was only there for the "love" holiday and then it would be gone. As Heather was not driving Bill or I had to drop off and pick up. When I would go inside she would would ask me if I wanted to try some ice cream. I was losing weight and was being good. Most of the time I told her no. On one occasion Heather begged me to try this new ice cream. She loved it and knew I would love it too. I did try it and I do love the ice cream. It is only around for a short amount of time and Heather and I would go a LOT to get our fill of this ice cream. Yes, I am still working on the hand packed half gallon Bill bought me back in January.

 Heather loved her jobs and she especially loved the money she made. She took great pride in her job. Usually she was promoted quickly as management saw her potential. She also loved to help people get jobs as well. She helped Steven get on at Baskin/Donuts...Jenn and Wendy both get jobs at Kohl's. She was a front end manager at Kohl's and then was Jr's and Men's department supervisor. Heather helped open the Target at Tempe Marketplace. She was very proud of her new store and her new position of children and infants department supervisor. Heather was a dedicated worker...she would go in early and stay late to get things done. She loved the color red so Target was a great place for her to work as well.
On the note of RED....for Valentine's Day the diamond seed was placed and everything was put into the extreme pressure chamber. My diamond is being created as you read right now. Next steps will be cutting, polishing, grading, certifying, engraving and then placement into the setting. Still hoping for the beginning of April for delivery.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Pea..
Happy birthday to you..

How do you celebrate 2 years old? Well with Finding Nemo of course. Dorry and Nemo make everything about turning 2 special. Oh yes, Peter Piper Pizza makes all the difference in the world too. 
Just a taste of frosting..powease????
Can't believe that it has been 2 years since Pea made her entrance into the world. I woke this morning with the images of all of us at the hospital waiting for Pea. It was Heather's first time out without her wig on since she finished cancer. She was so proud of herself. Aunt Missy could hardly wait to get lil Pea here. She had so many huge plans and dreams for her. Heather was overcome with emotion at the moment Pea arrived. Bill was not thrilled to be in the room for this process. But without him there we would not have captured some of the most beautiful photos of Heather with Wendy and Pea. It is terrible to say that Pea's birthdays will mark off the years one by one as she gets older and mark the years her Aunt Missy (or Aunt Mimi as Pea calls her now) has been gone. I love my lil Pea more than my own life. God knew we needed her to bring sunshine to some really dark days. Mimi loves her 2 year old lil pea very much!!!
Wendy, Pea and Victor
Ready to blow candles out
News about the Red Heather Diamond-the turning to pure carbon process is finished. On Wednesday the carbon was placed into the extreme heat chamber. Within one week they will add the diamond seed and place the ashes into the high pressure chamber. We are coming into the home stretch. They have talked to the jeweler to make sure the setting is ready. Should be completed and in my hands the end of March or beginning of April. Oh yes. I forgot to share that this process takes place in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


HOME: (noun)
a. a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, 
family or household
b. the place in which one's domestic affections are centered
c. any place of residence or refuge" a heavenly home"
a. to, toward, or at home: to go home
b. deep; to the heart: the truth of the accusation struck home
a. to go or return home
b. to have a home where specified; reside
Synonyms: abode, dwelling, habitation, hearth, fireside or asylum

It's a four letter word
A place you go to heal your hurt
It's an alter, it's a shelter
One place you're always welcome...
A pink flamingo, double wide
One bedroom in a high rise,
A mansion on a hill
Where the memories always will
Keep you company
Whenever you're alone...
After all of my running
I'm finally coming-HOME
~Coming Home-Country Strong~

When I was a child I wasn't happy with the home I grew up in. It was not a happy place. I actually ran away when I was 6 years old. I made it to the neighbors house. Of course, Jo Beth, was called and I got into even more trouble that I was in before. My home became a happier place once Jo Beth died when I was 9 years old. I thought it had become a better place to be when I got a step mom and step siblings. It became a place of unhappy memories and I just wanted to get out and away from home as fast as I could.

I knew growing up what I wanted in a home and what I didn't want MY home to be like. I tried very hard over the years to make my home a place where my family could be safe, and find peace, rest, comfort and fun. A shelter from whatever life brought our way. I always enjoyed going "home" to Bill's mom's for Christmas. It always felt like home. The smells and sounds, all the decorations made it feel safe and happy. 

My home now is something much different than I ever imagined it to be. It has become my refuge. My private sanctuary. A place where I don't have to be someone I am not. I don't have to pretend that everything is right with the world when it will never be right again. I am very protective as to who comes in and out of my home now. I never dreamed I would be that way. My memories and treasures are too precious to share with just anyone. It is okay to ask about photos and Heather's piano. It is okay to ask about her ashes that sit on her piano. It is a very moving tribute to Heather in my living room.

" There are certain truisms in life. One of then is that is goes against the natural order of things to bury one's child. However, as bereaved mothers we can no longer believe in natural order. Our comfortable , secure lives, our innocence, all were shattered with the deaths of our children. Now our reality is upside down, inside out and far removed from what we thought it would be. Each day is a learning experience in a course we never signed up for, in a life we never anticipated."

My home has my private memories of Heather. I can open them up for an afternoon and cry all I want to over them. I don't have to apologize for my tears to anyone. I can be me. The new me as I struggle to get up and live day to day hour to hour without a very vital part of my life.

"We have discovered the sad truth that beyond our own circle there is very little realistic and substantive help for those who grieve the loss of a child. We have found a crushing lack of awareness and understanding among many whom we should have been able to depend upon such as medical personnel, clergy, social workers, bereavement counselors, and in some cases family and friends."

"Many family and friends take their cue from the pop culture of our times and tell us it is time to "get on with our lives" and find "closure." Indeed, since the horrors of 9/11, "closure" seems to have become the watchword of therapists, politicians, journalists and television analysts alike. These "civilians," our name for those who have not experienced the death of a child, have no idea what they are speaking about when they use this term. We the experts know all too well that there is no sure things as "closure" following the senseless and untimely death of a child."

As the months go by more and more people are wanting us to "get over" and "move on" after Heather's death. We have had lots of people suggest that Bill and I need counseling and therapy. I have said that I don't want a therapist that has book knowledge. I know they are very smart people and they have lots of experience. However, till you lose a child yourself you have no idea or clue what you are talking about. So, I want a counselor that has lost an older teen child. We can then see things eye to eye. Most of our friends and family think us crazy to talk about Heather and "dwell" on her the way we do. Bill and I have found great comfort in reading other CaringBridge sites and The Grieving Garden book. We are not the ones who are crazy.

"You will carry every detail of what happened throughout every day of your life, and you will forevermore categorize all events as occurring either "before" or "after" your child's death. The memory of your son or daughter is all that remains of them here on earth, and certainly if they were still alive you would think of them each day and worry about their well-being."

""There is no clear road map for the passing through parental bereavement. However, there is a path that takes us from relentless grief to what we now call "shadow grief." "Shadow grief" is always with us, but it is bearable...."   Beyond Tears-a book written by 9 grieving mothers

Well they say it's where the heart is
And I guess the hardest part is
When your heart is broken
And you're lost out in the great wide open
Looking for a map
Finding your way back
To where you belong
Well that's where I belong-HOME

The world tried to break me
I found a road to take me-HOME
There ain't nothin but a blue sky now
After all of my running
I'm finally coming-HOME

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


STRONG: (Adjective)
a. having, showing, or able to exert great bodily or muscular power; physically vigorous or robust: a strong body
b.accompanied or delivered by great physical, mechanical, etc., power of force:
with one strong blow
c. mentally powerful or vigorous: he may be old but his mind is still strong
d. of great moral power, firmness or courage: strong under temptation
e. aggressive; willful: a strong personality
f. of a designated number: Marines 20,000 strong
g. having powerful means to resist attack, assault, or aggression:  
a strong fortress; a strong defense
Synonyms: mighty, sturdy, potent, capable, steady, firm, secure, unwavering, resolute

" I have weathered colder winters
Longer summers without a drop of rain
Push me in a corner and I'll come out fighting
I may lose but I'll always have my faith--
"Cause I'm country strong
Hard to break
Like the ground I grew up on
You may fool me and I'll fall
But i won't stay down long
"Cause I'm country strong...."
~Country Strong~

I have been told by many people I am the strongest woman they have ever known. I was told by my husband that I am strong like Aunt Margie. (Bill's Mom's sister that has outlived every member of her family-parents, all siblings, husband and son) I consider that to be the biggest honor to be counted as strong as Aunt Margie. Aunt Margie is a nurse...I say is because it never leaves you just because you retire. She took care of her mother, several siblings, husband and several in laws that came to be in her care in their final days. Aunt Margie is a great woman of faith. Everyone knows you don't mess with Aunt Margie. 
Heather with Aunt Margie March 2007
Bill and I used to take a high school group of about 12-16 teens to Chicago for an AWANA event called Varsity USA. This was a 6 day event that we planned and trained for months ahead of time. All the teens on the teams that we took knew you did not mess with Mrs. Coombe. I was strong-mighty, steady, secure, firm, unwavering and resolute in my handling of all situations that came up. I actually had one of the guys ask which side was my good side to stand on. They would always come up to me on that side..if they were on the "wrong" side they would move. They bought bears to win my favor. The girls knew that Mrs. Coombe meant business. They didn't want to get the Mrs. Coombe "look' for any reason. As tough as I appeared, every single one of them knew I loved them and would fight for them.
Varsity USA group April 2002-Jenny and Heather-3rd & 4th
Heather and Katy on the Metro Train
My girls have always known that mom fights for them. I fought teachers, doctors, kids and leadership that treated my girls wrong. I was pushed to my limits and ends with Heather and her cancer. I did it all...beginning with calling the actual lab to get the results, to firing doctors, going against rules and fighting for every last breath that Heather took. She looked to me to know what I was doing and protect her at all costs. I made sure that the hospital understood that nothing was to be done to Heather without my knowledge. Most importantly she was to be treated like a person. Some nurses when the patient is on a vent don't ever talk to them. I made sure after the first few days that I had the nurses that would speak to Heather as if she were awake. That continued till she died. I was aggressive in my protecting of Heather and I still am to Jenn, Wendy and Pea today.
Jenny, Pea and Wendy-Christmas 2010
I have a strong, unwavering God that has been carrying me since I was 10 years old. Many times I didn't know or realize that He was carrying me, but He has been faithful to me. He has been with me through the good and bad times. God and I have not always been on speaking terms and I have been mad at Him. But my faith has never been stronger than it is right now. In the movie "Rabbit Hole" there is a scene where a grieving mom says that "God must have needed another angel, that is why he took our daughter." Nicole Kidman's character looks up and says "why didn't he just make another one? Hum? Hum?..He is God after all..He could have just made one." There are moments when I feel betrayed by God. Why didn't He heal Heather? Why is the murderer on death row still alive and she is gone? By faith, by my faith in God, I know that was not the plan. I am unshakable in my faith in God. 

I have a friend that is closer to me than a sister. We have known each other for 39 years. It actually dawned on me the other day that she is the only living person on this planet that has known me that long. The ONLY one. Below is a conversation we had about faith. S- I hope you don't really meant so much that you said this to me. I love you forever S....

S: Oh man did it that book I read..I know you've been telling me that some things are just not meant for us to know..but now I get it
ME: That is good..that is the faith part..trusting what you cannot see
S: I'm not ready to leave this earth and leave my loved ones behind...but I'm not afraid of where I'm going anymore and I know I have loved ones waiting for me also
ME: that is called assurance..and that is the best part
S: what I don't understand is why now am I "coming to the light" as they say
Me: The only thing I know is that when Bill's mom died..she looked to the corner of the room..I assume that she saw heaven..coming into the light is to behold Christ's glory and "light"
S: for all that you have been through I would have turned my back on God...
but you didn't..and now I can see why