Friday, September 30, 2011

My Favorite Things....

I recently found lots of notes that Heather wrote on her Facebook and/or MySpace pages. I thought I would take some time and share some of her actual words and thoughts with you. I usually write about her but thought you might like to read her own words. It is really quite interesting. If you knew Heather then you can see her saying this things, if not, it will give you a sense of her very essence. I hope you enjoy this list of 25 things about Heather that you may not know:

Friday, January 30, 2009 at 12:52am
1. I peed my pants in Kindergarten because my teacher said I should have thought about that at recess, and if I really did have to go, I'd pee my pants. So I did.
2. I took piano lessons for a lil over 5 yrs, but cannot play Chopsticks.
3. I really am a Princess
4. Sunflowers are my favorite
5. I started school in MN
6. I've never been on a train ride
7. I am obsessed with closets and closet space
8. As much as I love pink, and get very excited about the color, Red is truly my favorite color.
9. I can identify Estee Lauder's "Beautiful" perfume on anyone wearing it around me
10. I love diet coke
11. I still have never had a boyfriend or been on an official date
12. I am Team Edward
13. I have splashed around in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans
14. I like cottage cheese
15. Peppermint Mocha is my favorite Starbucks drink
16. Nurses are my hero's!!!
17. My mom shaved my head this summer
18. I am still afraid of the dark
19. I saw Disney's "Enchanted" 7 times in the movie theater
20. My blood type is O Positive
21. My middle name is Nicole
22. Cowboys are my weakness..(Anyone, can you name that Country song??? and Artist???)
23. I want to get married in Disneyland (check out the Disney Dream Weddings website!)
24. Farting is the funniest thing ever. When I am 80, I will still laugh!
25. I absolutely hate pickles and mustard!!! With a burning passion

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sally Salad and Meatloaf...

As things began to get back to normal I found myself cooking dinner more and more nights of the week. Being that it was March and cooler outside I had decided to fix some meals that were associated with cooler temperatures. On Tuesday I made a homemade meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and homemade hot rolls. Heather was not feeling good so she skipped her PIMA classes that night. As we sat down to dinner Heather said, “I am so glad I stayed home tonight for dinner. This is my favorite.” I had no idea at the time that would be the last meal I ever fixed for her. Two days later Heather entered the hospital for the last time.

As I walked through the grocery store with my list in my hand, I found myself kind of wondering up and down the aisles of food. Something I saw would remind me of Heather in some way and I would find myself in tears. I had no idea that simply going to the grocery store could be such an emotional event. Simply seeing a mother and daughter shopping, laughing and talking could almost send me running from the store. We expect the big things like birthdays, holidays and death anniversaries to be difficult, but the simple, unexpected things are the ones that rock me to my core when they happen.

To make Sally Salad I placed 16 large marshmallows in a pan, mixed with crushed pineapple and strawberry jello and let them begin to melt. I stirred the pan as the mixture get hot and smelled very good. While this mixture cooled I beat cream cheese with milk to make a base and whipped a packet of whipped topping mix. I folded all the ingredients together, placed the mixture into a crystal bowl and placed in the refrigerator to set up. The lovely medium pink jello salad smelled as good as it looked and tasted ever better. The smooth texture and flavor is beyond words but might just be a small piece of heaven on this side of the clouds.

Trying to make the traditional holiday meals is very difficult to do now.  Mostly because of “Sally Salad” that Heather loved and named so many years ago. When Heather was 2 years old she fell in love with Miss Sally. Heather had me call Miss Sally on Saturday night to find out which dress she would be wearing to church on Sunday, the pink or the white one. During a potluck we had at our home in Colorado Springs, Miss Sally brought a pink salad. Heather looked over all the food and took things that she liked but she wanted the pink salad that Sally had brought. She kept saying “I want Sally’s salad, I want Sally’s salad.” I asked Sally for the recipe and began to make it for every holiday as our family tradition. The name that Heather gave the salad so many years ago have become what the salad is called in our family and the extended family as well. Our holidays are not complete without “Sally Salad.”

Most people do not even think about the small things such as food or grocery stores when it comes to grieving. I managed to make both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner last year complete with all the trimmings. I could not face the holidays the year before so we went out for dinner on both days. I was very thankful that I was able to make Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for Heather her last holidays here. I am not sure why that meant so much but as her mom, it is very important to me. It has been 30 months since I have made a meatloaf. My family has not missed it too much, especially the girls. I asked Bill if he knew why I had not made a meatloaf meal and he said no so I explained the reason why.

Time passes but the feelings and memories never do. The small things that no one thinks about are the things that get to me the most.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Outside Looking In........

Standing and looking at the glass window I see all the yummy goodies of the candy store in Downtown Disney. I stand longing to eat one of the delicious candy covered apples from the window.  Well aware that these are not healthy apples, but more like high calorie, diabetic inducing apples. But they all look so beautiful and are oh so inviting with all the decorations. There are so many things that I find myself on the outside of the glass looking in and longing to enjoy once again. With my nose pressed against the glass as hard as I can so that maybe I will be the one laughing and enjoying and not on the outside looking in.
It is dark outside so all the hanging lights glowed very brightly. I stood and watched as the teacups spun with a huge longing in my heart to ride them once again with my Heather. I usually don’t stop to watch very long, but this time was different. As I stood there the ride stopped and the people got off. I watched closely as the new groups of people picked their teacup for the next ride. I saw a pair of gals that were very choosy about just the right teacup. I kept my eye on them and watched them as they got into the teacup. When they sat down I realized I had found my teacup to watch. These gals sat across from each other and had their hands on the spinner in the 12/6 position for the best maximum spinning power. My excitement grew at the same time the ache in my heart began to hurt a little bit more.

It was not so long ago that Heather and I stood in that line, grabbed our best teacup and positioned our hands in the same way. It was our goal to spin our cup the hardest and fastest we could for the entire ride. As our hair flied, we laughed, giggled and talked as we spun our way in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. When the ride was over we were breathless like we had just had a workout. I imagined that someone who watched us would have had quite the laugh at the good time we were having. Heather and I are the only ones that could do this ride. It seemed to be the best ride ever with her.
 As the ride began the two gals did not disappoint me as they spun the teacup at their hardest effort ever. Their hair flew behind them as they laughed and giggled. For a moment I was transported back to a time when I was in the teacup and not looking through the glass longing for something that I can never have again. My heart began to hurt. The ride came to an end as we turned and walked away. A smile came over my face of a happier time as a tear came to my eyes to remind me of hurt in my heart that will never heal.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Spoonful of Sugar...

                     Mr. Banks: Just a moment, Mary Poppins. What is the meaning of 
                               this outrage?
               Mary Poppins: I beg your pardon?
               Mr. Banks: Will you be good enough to explain all this?
               Mary Poppins: First of all, I would like to make one this quite clear.
               Mr. Banks: Yes?
               Mary Poppins: I never explain anything....

When we walked into Disneyland we headed as fast as we could to the Indiana Jones ride. Next would be Pirates of the Caribbean and then Haunted Mansion. This was a Coombe Family tradition for most of our visits to Disneyland. Many photos were taken standing in line waiting for the ride and also coming out of the ride. Many nights for the last rides, we would go on It’s A Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean and then Bill, Wendy and Heather would run to Indiana Jones then Jenn and I would go to Haunted Mansion. By the time we all met up again the park would be closed. Most nights Bill, Wendy and Jenn would go back to the hotel but Heather and I would close down the shops. Heather would put her arm in my arm and beg, please momy, please stay and shop. She then would give me her Doop eyes look and of course I stayed. She and I walked arm in arm back to the hotel well after 1am most nights.
Now, we have to find new way to come into Disneyland. This trip Bill and I rode Peter Pan’s Flight as our first ride. We spent time in Fantasyland first. Part of this is because Pirates and Haunted Mansion were closed the whole time. Honestly, Haunted Mansion is not the ride it once was. I can actually leave it and not ride it anymore. It is done in fun and not really scary, it is just the whole death thing and the grave yard at the end. To a mother who has lost a child it just isn’t a fun ride anymore.
A couple new wonderful treasures were bought at Disneyland this time. I am really into artwork, paintings and very limited or exclusive treasures. The common things are nice, but I want something to really stand out. So I found 3 different paintings that really called my name and one needed to come home with me. There was a stunning Beauty and the Beast painting done in mostly shades of yellow. It was very unique and was # 2/150. I also found a Winnie The Pooh that was amazing. It was a huge tree with the leaves turning orange and red and beginning to fall. At the bottom of the tree is a small opening and Pooh is sitting there. At first look it is leaves that are falling around him, however get closer and you notice they are butterflies flying around him. Finally I saw a Mary Poppins painting that was very different. It is not Mary Poppins, but all of the things or belongings that make you think of Mary Poppins.
As a young girl we had a movie theater in the small community where I grew up called the Allen Theater. It was located downtown where all the stores were. My parents would go shopping every Saturday and they gave me 0.75 cents to go see the matinee movie at the theater. One of the many movies I saw at the theater was Mary Poppins. I fell in love with Julie Andrews at that moment. I probably saw Mary Poppins about 6 times and The Sound Of Music about 13 times. Heather shared my love of Mary Poppins and Julie Andrews. Heather had purchased several Mary Poppins items from Disneyland in the past. So, with the hat, the shoes, the carpet bag, the tape measure, the bottle of medicine and 2 spoons, the lamp, the torn letter, the fireplace, the bird handled umbrella, the robin, the blocks, the water globe of the cathedral, the plant, and the toppins, it proudly is displayed in my private art gallery. It is such a wonderful collection of the items that describe the movie.
The 2nd treasure was a bottle of perfume. The perfume itself is not a Disney exclusive. You can purchase it in any department store. However the difference is that the day I purchased it, the artist was there painting the perfume bottles. Naturally, I had to have a hand painted bottle of perfume purchased from Disneyland. We all need to remember that Heather’s statement was that you are never fully dressed till you have your perfume on. It is your signature. I told the sales person the story of what Heather’s thoughts were and that she died. She told the artist to do an extra special job on mine. She also added swarvorski crystals to the flowers and butterflies. When we went back to pick up the bottle, the whole shop knew my story and all wanted to see the bottle. It is beyond beautiful.
We are planning to go back right before Christmas. This will be one more step forward and bittersweet as the last time we went as a whole family it was for Heather’s 21st birthday. It was all decorated for Christmas and nothing was taken for granted that this was a huge celebration for all of us. Disneyland has so many memories that come rushing to the surface. Being there at Christmas time will bring back even more. Why do I want to go there all the time? Why do I put myself through the memories? I feel Heather’s presence there more than any other place on earth. I feel her with me every moment. So, it is worth the memories and the pictures that I get in my head to go to Disneyland as often and as much as I can.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Day After...

I had begun to prepare for the funeral a few weeks before. I knew that I would be presses for time and I didn’t want to rush any details in her final celebration. Falconer Funeral Home would be the one to take care of all the details as they had taken care of Beka and I really didn’t know where else to go. I called Chris Timothy, the funeral director, told him my situation and asked him if Heather died what I needed to do. I began to make notes about flowers, colors, music and what she would wear. The funeral would be in grand Duchess Princess style as was everything in my princesses life. So not knowing what the future held, I began to plan and make tiny steps in a direction I did not want to go in.

Monday morning I was very stoic as I called Falconer Funeral Home to talk to Chris. The moment he answered I lost it and burst into tears. I could not utter a word.  Chris asked if this was Heather’s mother. He remembered me from a few weeks earlier and told me he was very sorry. I finally composed myself and told him that we had made the decision to take her off life support. He told me all I had to do was call them , they would come to the hospital and get her body after we left.  He would call the next morning and have us come to the funeral home to make arrangements. I packed up Heather’s ball gown and her tiara in the car and headed to the hospital for what would be the last time.

Heather died at 9:45pm, Monday April 20, 2009

Program done by Falconer Funeral Home

So not knowing what the future held, I began to plan and make tiny steps in a direction I did not want to go in. The sleep Monday night I don’t honestly remember how and when I fell asleep. I woke in tears and remembered that this nightmare really was my life. Chris called just like he said he would and Bill and I had an appointment to meet with him at 11am. I packed Heather’s ball gown, her tiara, her shoes, necklace and earrings from the ball and her blond short haired wig. I had to stop at Walgreens and get fake fingernails and toenails. Heather never went anywhere dressy without her nails being done. This would be no different. When we arrived at the funeral home we were greeted by Chris. Now I had come face to face with the voice that was on the phone. He took the dress and reached for the bag of the accessories I had. In a protective jerk I moved the bag away from him and I said I needed to explain what was in the bag. I wasn’t ready for someone to have all of her most treasured things yet. It was strange to be in the same building as Heather was. At that moment in time we could not touch or see her.

Inside of program-I love My Porcelain Doll poem

I don’t really remember all the details of what happened in order, but I know that we first talked about when and where the service would be. We decided that the chapel at the funeral home was not going to be big enough for a funeral of this importance. We decided to go with Trinity Baptist Church.  I decided that Heather was not a morning person and so her funeral should not be in the morning either. We then had to decide all the details of the funeral such as open casket, closed casket, a viewing for public or just for family, music, slide show, pastors to speak, burial or cremation, newspaper article, flowers, programs for the funeral, picture for the paper, tapestry and the programs, limo service for the family, memorial book, type of casket and memory tables at the church. These are just a few of the decisions we made within hours of Heather’s death. These are decision that no parent should make about their 21 year old daughter.

So not knowing what the future held, I began to plan and make tiny steps in a direction I did not want to go in. We decided to have a full funeral with a private family viewing and an open viewing, with a casket and then have her cremated. We then had to pick a casket and an urn to hold her ashes. Chris explained all the options and left us to make the decision. We cried and talked and looked as we picked out a white princess like casket and a small urn with roses on it. Not knowing what we were really doing. When Chris came back he explained that the urn was for a baby and we needed a bigger one. I did not like anything they had there so I went with a heart biodegradable box for now. I also wanted a keepsake urn to always have some of Heather’s ashes close by as well. Chris had to give me a catalog to look at since I was not happy with any of the choices there. Then we began to pick out the urn and thumbprint necklaces. Finally we had to pick out the flowers. The funeral home was used to dealing with a local florist that did very nice arrangements. We got the casket spray from us, a huge standing bouquet from Jenn and Wendy and another standing one from Violet. These turned out to the most amazing flowers I have ever seen. This was a good choice. All the flowers had to be pink and mostly roses. All these decisions have to be made and sort of placed so that a final cost can be figured out. Half of the cost of the funeral has to be paid that day with the balance due prior to the funeral.
Program I designed, printed and put together

Celine Dion~Miracle
We were given several tasks to do when we returned home that day that had to be given attention immediately. The photo for the paper obituary, the program and the woven tapestry they make for the family. We also needed to get the slide show with all the photos and music selected by Thursday. Friday would be a private viewing with the public viewing and funeral on Saturday afternoon. So as we left the funeral home, I had left all the personal belongs there with all the instructions. I left the final celebration in the hands of the funeral director that I had met once. All my choices and decisions would be second guessed by me for days till I knew in my heart everything was perfect. I was not happy with just the small program that the funeral home was doing, I felt like I needed my own and I began working on it. So not knowing what the future held, I began to plan and make tiny steps in a direction I did not want to go in.
All about Heather

Our thanks to family, friends and staff

Tuesday was a blur and then we were busy Wednesday getting everything together and meeting with the pastors. Thursday we had to go back to the funeral home and make the final payment and go over the details one more time. Friday was the private viewing. All the flowers and tapestry were there. Heather was laid out in the casket just a beautiful as ever. She almost looked like she was sleeping. Saturday came and we were at the church, the service was ready to begin. As our family said goodbye for the final time, someone rushed in, took a look and touched her hand. I had to touch her hand one more time as I wanted my touch to be the last one. As we lined up in the foyer I began to walk behind the casket. So not knowing what the future held, I began to plan and make tiny steps in a direction I did not want to go in.  
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Friday, September 2, 2011

The Difference...

 You’re my life’s one Miracle,
Everything I’ve done that’s good
And you break my heart with tenderness,
And I confess it’s true
I never knew a love like this till you….

( Please go out and listen to this amazing song. I wrote this in the program for Heather's Survivor Ball and then again for her funeral. it is the most touching song for a mother to her babies. )

Everything I've done that's good...Feb 2009

 I have a near photographic memory. Sometimes this is a blessing and sometimes it is a curse. The past 3 years have had many parts I wish I could forget. For many people it is easy to forget things that happened in the past. Thursday was my 46th birthday. I wonder if my gestational DNA unit remembers this day at all. I remember in great detail each day that my daughters were born. I remember what I was doing, how labor began and the moment they were born. These days are etched in my memory as if it was yesterday. I remember even the small details of when they were born. I wonder if Jane remembers anything about being pregnant or giving birth to me. Was she so glad to have it finally over so she could go back to her life as if nothing happened? I can’t help but wonder if she thinks about the fact that she created a baby, carried it, gave birth to it and then dumped it after all these years.
Who could ever love you more?..Dec 20
You’re the reason I was born
Now I finally know for sure
And I’m overwhelmed with happiness
So blessed to hold you close
The one that I love most
With all the future has so much for you in store
Who could ever love you more?

I was thrilled when I found out I was pregnant with Jennifer. She was my first baby, the hope of our future. I knew I had always wanted to have a baby of my own. Someone that belonged to me, looked like me and that I would love forever. We had no idea till she was born if she was a Jennifer or a Christopher. In 1986 it was not told if the baby was a boy or a girl. Bill told me not to do the nursery in a baby print, so I spent an entire day at the wallpaper store picking out something not too babyish. When I took him back, he said he loved the bears with balloons. So we did the baby nursery in bears with balloons. I made a long stitch picture that was bears in balloons as well. I loved being pregnant, feeling the life inside me grow bigger each day. We had a cat that would lay over my belly and purr very loudly. The baby would kick like crazy when the cat would do that. I would pat, rub and talk to my belly as it got bigger and bigger. Saturday March 8th was her due date…and it came and went and still no baby. Wednesday night I was tired. I had been sitting in the nursery in the rocking chair praying and talking. When I went to go to bed, I felt a trickle of water and thought I must not have finished. I was a very uninformed, for a woman about to have a baby, that water could trickle out and not just flood the room. After a couple more trickles, we headed to the hospital. Sure enough, my water had a leak and they would keep me. Long story short, no contractions, was induced; allergic reaction to the drug and the baby was in trouble. I passed out when they started the IV. I had to lay on my side or the baby’s heart rate dropped too low. I was not progressing and they were about to do a c-section when suddenly, I had the urge to push…for 2 hours and 39 minutes I pushed. She got stuck in my bones and they used a tiny suction pump to finally help her get out. Finally at 2:39 pm on March 13, 1986, Jennifer was born.  She was born with the cord wrapped around her neck and not breathing.
There is nothing you could ever do, to make me stop loving you...Mar 2008
The nearest thing to heaven,
You’re my angel from above
Only God creates such perfect love.
When you smile at me, I cry...Mar 2009
 Heather was our surprise we are pregnant baby. Again, I enjoyed being pregnant and feeling this baby grow inside me. I carried the same way and felt very certain that this baby was a Heather and not a Christopher. I was not thrilled at the idea of having a December 18th due date. I figured that if this baby came late they could end up with a Christmas birthday. Looking back that is not a terrible thing actually. In the morning on December 10th I called Bill at work crying and asked him to come home. Nothing was wrong I just didn’t feel good and wanted him home. I had a doctor’s appointment at about 1pm that afternoon and told him I was feeling horrible. Nothing I still could put my finger on, just didn’t feel myself. Jenny and I came home, took a nap and then we went to the mall and had Furrs cafeteria for dinner. I had chicken fried steak, pan fries, cream gravy, mac and cheese and green beans. It was a good dinner. We made our way to Kmart. As I was checking out I kept telling Bill, man, this baby is killing me. I had to hang onto the shelves to breathe for a few minutes; however I never thought anything of it. We came home and I took a shower. Bill and Jenny were wrapping Christmas presents. I felt like I was maybe having contractions and decided to time them. Bill came up and asked me what I was doing. I looked at him very innocently and said the 1st level of breathing. He asked me how long and close the contractions were. I said 3 minutes apart and lasting 45-60 seconds. He jumped and got dressed and I called the doctor. I was told to get to the hospital. Bill and I laughed and joked about me being in labor on the way. We arrived at 10: 45pm. Things moved very quickly and Heather made her appearance at 11:52 pm on December 10, 1987, 8 days early. Due to a pain shot I was given, Heather did not want to breathe. She had to be given shots to wake her up to breath. This was due to a nurse not believing I could go so fast.
The nearest thing to heaven...May 2008
When you smile at me I cry
And to save your life I’ll die
With a romance that is pure heart,
You are my dearest part
Whatever it requires,
I live for your desires
Forget my own, your needs will come before
Who could ever love you more?
And to save your life, I'd die........Nov 2008
We planned for our third baby. Dr. Sealy was going to stop delivering babies and I wanted one more baby and for him to deliver that baby. Again, I enjoyed being pregnant and having the baby grow inside me. I did have a horrible bout with the flu. I have never been so sick. I was doing just fine till my adopted dad Jim died in January 1990. I was 7 months pregnant. I carried this baby the same way and figured it was another girl. We did have a huge shock during one appointment when my doctor heard 2 heartbeats. He was convinced that I was having twins. I was shipped off for an ultrasound that day. For a brief moment we were thrilled and shocked at the idea of having 2 babies. It was only one baby with lots of fluid. Dr. Sealy called me personally to tell me he was stunned when it was only one baby. He was not fooled easily. The baby turned over and we were not able to find out if it was a Wendy Kay or a Matthew Ryan. Bill was home sick with a cold on a Monday, he saw our family doctor who was also the family doctor for some medicine. Later that night I made pizza for dinner. As I went eat I felt like I was having a contraction. I decided not to eat. We monitored the contractions and they were irregular. I called the doctor and he said to go in and just see what was happening. I got there about 10:20pm, they monitored me and decided they would keep me. I was in the old part of the hospital and they asked me if I felt good enough to walk to the new labor and delivery part. I said sure I do, walk will do me good. So we set off walking. Huge mistake. I got to my room and I had to lay down right away. I was hurting big time. The bed would not work properly so they had me sit in a chair while they worked on it. I was ready to go to the floor. I had to lay down. They finally moved the entire bed out of the room and brought in a new bed. I had a friend from church that was a delivery nurse, Kathy. She was with me for Jenn and missed Heather by 15 minutes. She was not going to miss this baby. She kept calling to see how things were going. She talked to bill and told him that the baby was not doing well with the heart rate and they were thinking a c-section. Kathy said she was on her way. She flew into the room at the same time Dr. Sealy arrived. He said I was good to push and let’s get this baby out now. 3 pushes later and Wendy Kay made her arrival at 11:39pm on April 9, 1990. The cord wrapped around her neck 3 times, not breathing and a grayish color.
You are my dearest part...Dec 2008

Well there is nothing you could ever do,
To make me stop loving you
And every breath I take,
Is always for your sake
You sleep inside my dreams and know for sure
Who could ever love you more?
My most valued treasure I have on earth...Mar 2011
As my birthday comes and goes, I am reminded that I did have a woman that created me, carried me, gave birth to me and then dumped me. I have whined about Jane many times before. As a child you always want a parent’s love. I don’t feel it is any different for an adult. Adults still need their Mommy’s and Daddy’s. I have no mother to comfort me during my sorrow and grief. I have no mother to cry with me and hug me. I have no mother to say she is proud of me for who I have become. I have no mother for support. I have no mother who will try to tell me things will get better in time. My birthday is a reminder of what I so long to have but am not able to have due to the mother I was given. I am strong, brave and a survivor. I am proud of my daughters and who I raised them to be. I am grateful to have been allowed to be Heather’s mother for the short time she was here. My Jennifer, Heather, Wendy and Pea are my greatest accomplishment for my life.
Sometimes, a girl has just gotta have a meltdown with her Mimi