Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Easter That Wasn't...

EASTER: a Christian festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary. Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer and penance.

EASTER: is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. It was established that the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon following the March equinox. The equinox is reckoned to be on March 21, and the full moon does not necessarily fall on the same date. Therefore Easter varies between March 22nd and April 25th.
The girls at Trinity Baptist Church-1995 (Heather's funeral would be here 14 yrs later)
EASTER: in the Coombe household has always been one of celebrating with gifts, candy and church. When the girls were little they each had dresses made by mom or new dresses, hats, shoes and sometimes matching gloves. (Remember the girls were born in the 80’s and 90’s) While we went to church and had the significance be focused on Christ and His resurrection. HOWEVER, I really did not and still do not see anything wrong with some Easter fun with eggs and the Easter bunny. If your child is taught the true meaning they can still enjoy the fun of Easter as well and not feel left out. For example in the girl’s Easter baskets was always an empty egg to represent the empty tomb.
Heather and Jelly Bean bunny looking groovie
The girl’s always looked forward to getting their Easter baskets and seeing what new treasures and goodies were in there. I made my own so that they could be tailor fit to each girl including the candy they liked and didn’t like. Of course all three baskets included PEEPS, jelly beans and a chocolate Easter bunny. For whatever reason Heather loved the ears of the chocolate bunnies and I got her the bunny big ears so she had twice the amount of bunny ears to eat. Sometimes there were stuffed Easter bunnies in the baskets, but more times Jenn had a Pooh critter, Wendy had a cat or tiger of some kind and Heather had the bunnies.
Heather and Mr. B
Easter was the perfect time to get the birthday supplies for the December birthday that took place for the bunny lover. Of course it was much harder to find bunny plates and napkins in December. Many years I bought bunnies for many other holidays and event that might come along during the year. I still to this day am drawn to bunnies, but it is with a smile on my face with sadness in my heart that I look at the stuffed bunnies now. I pick them up, look at the tag for their name and give it a squeeze. Heather never met a bunny she didn’t love.

Between the clothes and baskets there was also the Easter meal. I always made ham with twice baked potatoes, green bean casserole, hot rolls and of course sally salad. Several years I made individual bunny cakes decorated like bunnies for everyone. Once in a while although not much in the past I made deviled eggs but usually I ate most of them. It would be a fun time of food and laughter, family and fun….
Easter 2008
…BUT suddenly in 2008 Easter changed. Our family had smaller baskets but the meal was at Golden Corral buffet instead. There was not much laughter and fun as in 5 short days heather would undergo a needle biopsy for cancer. Our family was a bit fractured and many different things were all happening at once. It was the last time that Easter would be a holiday I ever wanted to think about.

THEN came 2009…I had such vision and HOPE that the miracle we needed so desperately would be given to us on Good Friday or Easter Sunday. I told everyone that Sunday was coming just watch, so we all watched as Heather got worse and then collapsed her lung on Good Friday. I bought Heather a stuffed Easter bunny for the first time in several years. It was a little multi colored bunny with flowers on it. I knew my Heather had to have a bunny in her ICU room no matter what. This was when I found the TY Heather bunnies as well.

SINCE 2009 I have tried to celebrate Easter as best I can. I have tried to get some small gifts for the girls and we have at least been together since I didn’t make Easter dinner. Easter, because of the circumstances that happened during the Easter season for two years in a row, has not been a favorite holiday of mine and I try very, very hard to be open minded and put my feelings aside and celebrate the day the best I can. By having Snookie it helps to focus on her energy and love of the holiday. Last year we had a beautiful meal at Wendy and Sunnie’s and then had a wonderful time watching Snooks hunt for Easter eggs.
Heather's last Easter bunny-It has daisies on it!!
FAST FORWARD to this year and things are not nice, fun and honestly they down right suck. For the first time Easter and Heather’s death anniversary are the same day. How could this happen? This is not just any year but it happens to be the 5th anniversary a huge milestone anniversary. As February came I had the highest hopes and good mood to plan dinner with the family-me cooking-and then have a small gathering later in the evening to release balloons and place luminaries to commemorate the day. I have had special gifts made to give to Jenn and Wendy for the 5th anniversary to memorialize the day.
Easter gift from Shawna-2009
BUT…as we are now at the end of March and April is near I cannot no matter how hard I try celebrate Easter AND Heather’s death day on the same day. I CANNOT DO IT!!! I feel like a failure as a mom. I think this must be what it is like to grow old to the point of not being able to have holiday meals and events at your house. I feel like a failure as a mom to my girls. Yes, they are grown, but mom has always done Easter and Christmas. That is what mom’s do!!! I am young, well and still have my mind so how can this be that I cannot do this…it is simple, I hate the holiday Easter-not the meaning-I also hate the day Heather died.
I still buy bunny stickers
The day Heather died was the day my heart died, yes it keeps beating but it is broken into pieces never to be right and working well again. A light in my soul was put out, and a hurt deep into my bones was placed and I cannot get past it or over it or put it out of my mind. This is a horrible day. PERIOD!! I have been told I need to look at it that this is the day that Heather met Jesus. I am sorry my earthly side doesn’t feel or see it that way.

As you go about your Easter events, stop to remember the loved ones you have around you and all that you have. Maybe hug your kids and grandkids a little closer. The Coombe family will be trying to celebrate Easter on April 19th, which is a whole different set of emotions as Rusty died that day. SO honestly Easter this year is not a holiday that is even doable. For Easter 2014, we will be having a princess cake and remembering a light that was put out way too young but is never far from my heart and mind.

Monday, March 24, 2014

For The First TIme in Forever...

Usually in a Disney movie or any fairy tale the ending comes along and they all live happily ever after. Someone, usually the prince or man of the story, rushes in and saves the day from whatever the trouble was. If only life could have the endings of a fairy tale.

With blood cancer the talk turns to a bone marrow transplant, and Heather was no different. The greatest fear is that if the patient is not in remission at the end of Round 1 (part a & b) that a transplant will be the only option to try to save that person’s life. Our situation with cancer was no different and from the initial first visit Dr. F was talking about a bone marrow transplant. Both Jenn and Wendy had their HLA tested to see if they were a viable donor. This was a life-saving sacrifice that both sisters were willing to take to save Heather. Our ending was that neither sister was a good enough match for Heather so she would face an unrelated donor. The love of one sibling to sacrifice for the other is a great gift.

Of course in the movie FROZEN, Elsa accidentally strikes Anna and the cold settles in her heart. I find it very interesting that the Trolls keep saying that a cold head is easier to change that a cold heart. To turn a cold heart the ultimate gift of love must be done by the one with the cold heart for someone else. Unconditional, self-sacrificing love will thaw a frozen heart.

Heather had someone that she loved very, very dearly and would sacrifice anything for. It was very difficult on her that their relationship had taken a cold turn. One night while Heather and I were in the hospital, snuggled in bed, she told me that if the one she loved could be brought back she would gladly have cancer and allow God to use that to have that person back. This was the love of one for another. She was willing to go through cancer.

In FROZEN at the end as Anna is trying to reach Kristoff to get a true love’s first kiss she notices that Hans is about to kill her sister Elsa. Elsa is broken, crying and sitting on the ice as Hans told her that Anna died after she struck her heart with her power. Elsa is devastated to learn that she has killed her sister. Anna runs to stand in front of Hans as he raises his sword to kill Elsa. Anna sacrificed for Elsa and was turned to ice, as we watch the last breath escape her lips. Elsa hugs and sobs as she believes that Anna has been turned to solid ice. In the end Anna’s gift of love unfroze her heart and she was restored to life. How you unfreeze the world is the gift of love.

Our ending was not so happy as when Heather died and took her last breath there was not some magic to come bring her back to her earthly life. But I do know first-hand that Heather would be thrilled and amazed that the one she was willing to sacrifice for is back and I know beyond a doubt that Heather would tell me it was worth it in the end. She would be amazed at the growth in this amazing person. For the first time in forever I would never willingly sacrifice one to save another, but in this earthly life her sacrifice was one unconditional love and in the end I am thankful that if Heather had to die there was a small reason I can think of as to why.

People either love or hate FROZEN and I am not sure why this movie has such hate about it. The reality is it is a movie. PERIOD!! Did you catch that? A MOVIE…it is entertainment and maybe there is a message that if you turn off your cold heart you might be able to see what that is. I do not buy into all the reason why people hate movies and most of the time I wonder how in the world they got this meaning from the movie. SO maybe next time before you say you hate this movie, you might take my words to heart and see the love between sisters, the concealing and don’t feel and the pure love sacrifice that is really at the heart of the movie before making your judgment.

Each day brings me closer and closer to April 20th, the day that changed my world forever. Most of the time I feel the world pities the poor grieving mother. While I would like to have your compassion and be allowed to mention and talk about Heather, Only the strongest women are giving the task to become grieving mothers. While I would not choose it, God did for whatever reason I may never know…I just know that he did.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Let It Go....Let It Go...

It was acceptable when heather first died that people allowed me some time to grieve and be sad. But very shortly people wanted and needed to see that I was okay. That everything had returned to normal and I was moving on with life happy and content. When Queen Elsa looks from her window before the coronation and says:

Don't let them in, don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel, put on a show
Make one wrong move and everyone will know…

This is exactly how I feel most days. Most days I have to “put” on a happy face and act like everything is right with the world. After all it has almost been 5 years I must be “over it” by now. I cannot be grieving still. I have to be the good girl everyone expects to see. They don’t want to see the real me. I have to conceal my feelings that I want to cry and scream still. This has not gotten any easier and while the pain has lessened some, the memories are as vivid as they were in 2009.

When the truth is revealed about Elsa she runs and turns the fjords into an icy cold winter. Elsa can finally be herself but she has to hide herself from the rest of the world. I have days where I just want to stay in and not talk to anyone. I don’t feel like getting dressed or doing anything.
…A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I’m the Queen
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I’ve tried

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care
What they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on, the cold never bothered me anyway

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free...

Just when I think I have my emotions and everything under control something happens, like a family event or a date comes around that get the memories and emotions going. Elsa after Anna leaves the ice palace is talking to herself saying “don’t feel!” Don’t feel!” “get it under control-conceal don’t feel!” I feel that sometimes when I have to go somewhere or be around people that I have to tell myself those words, “Don’t Feel!” If you have never had to do this to yourself be thankful. It really is horrible to have to go and pretend you are someone or something you are not. Elsa has to pretend she doesn’t feel while she accepts the coronation of being queen. She wants to run and hide from the world. When her true powers are revealed the world thinks her to be a monster. If I was to break down and cry at a wedding or a baby shower people would think me insane. That is why most of the time I avoid weddings and baby and bridal showers. It is just too tough for me. Funerals are the same way.

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry
Here I stand
And here I stay
Let the storm rage on…

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back,
The past is in the past…

Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand in the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway…

So in the nearly five years since Heather died I have collected Disney things, made lots of trips to Disneyland, I avoid crowds and certain group events, I have gotten two tattoos and have written two books. Most people thing me insane and some kind of weirdo, but basically I am trying to find the new me, trying to figure out how I live and where I fit into the world. I cannot do things the normal way and my mind processes things, movies and songs differently now than I did before. To me the song "Let It Go" has a whole different meaning to me. I love the scene in FROZEN where she builds the ice palace and feels free for the first time in forever. I am tried of being a grieving mother! I hate pretending to be someone I am not and putting on a happy face. But i have to keep up the game for the rest of my life.  I just keep “conceal, don't feel, put on a show—make one wrong move and everyone will know…”

Friday, March 21, 2014

Do You Want To Build a Snowman...?

FROZEN is the newest hottest movie rage in the country right now. Most parents are already tired of the songs and don’t want to watch the 15th time since they bought it 2 days ago. Being a grieving mother I see everything different and FROZEN is no different. I am addicted but for many different reasons.

The beginning shows a young Anna not able to sleep is trying to wake a sleeping sister Elsa.
ANNA: Elsa…pssssttttt Elsa, wake up!! wake up!! wake up!!
ELSA: Anna go back to sleep!!
ANNA: I just cant!!The sky’s awake so I’m awake…so we have to play!!
ELSA: Go play by yourself
ANNA: Do you wanna build a snowman?
The sisters run off to go make magic with the snow and have fun while they are supposed to be sleeping.

To most people it is just an opening scene that they don’t really take any notice too. It is a kid’s movie and this is the beginning to explain what happens between the two sisters. To me this was a scene played out night after night after night in our home while the girls were growing up. Wendy was always in Heather’s room long after lights were supposed to be off and they were supposed to be asleep.

Heather wrote an essay about Wendy where she describes this very event:
I remember when Wendy went through a phase where my mom would put us in bed and Wendy would wait until she had gone back downstairs. Then she would sneak into my room, crawl up on my bed and sit with me. Wendy wasn’t necessarily scared, but just didn’t like to be alone in the dark until she was tired. She could talk and talk for at least an hour, or until mom came up and caught us. That’s one thing Wendy was always good at, talking. We used to say that Wendy talked from Wendy up to Wendy down.  Right before she went to go and get back in her bed, she would ask me:
“Heather, if in ten minutes I don’t fall asleep, and you’re still up can I come back
in here?”
“Yes Wendy” I reassured her, half asleep already.
“Well, what if you are sleeping, can I wake you up then?” She would question
“Yes Wendy, you can wake me up, now go get in your bed” mumbling back to her.
            Sometimes even though Wendy is in high school, she will still come into my room and talk to me like she used to.  It’s a good feeling to be needed by someone.  Wendy needed me, her big sister.

So to the rest of the world this is just simply an opening scene of a Disney movie with no big detail, but to me, a mom, a grieving mom that would give anything to go back to those simple childhood days, it is a special memory and one that Heather cherished and wrote about.

The love of sisters is something I know nothing about really. I had none growing up so I do not really have a full understanding of what it means to the girls to have each other. As the mother of three sisters I do know that huge hole that has been left by the middle sister being gone. The dynamics of the whole family has been changed. For Jenn it was her little sister that died and for Wendy it was her big sister, same sister but two different roles.

The song “Do You Wanna Build A Snowman” of course is about the younger sister Anna trying to get Elsa to come play with her again. If you have seen the movie you know that Elsa has to hide because of her gift of turning things into snow or ice.

Young Anna: (knocks) Do you want to build a snowman Or ride our bike around the halls?
I think some company is overdue
I've started talking to
The pictures on the walls
(Hang in there, Joan! )
It gets a little lonely,
All these empty rooms
Just watching the hours tick by
(Tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock)

Heather essay about Wendy:
When my older sister, Jenny, decided she was too old to play with Barbie’s and Polly Pockets, my first partner in crime was gone.  I had to find another one and quick.  This meant partnering with Wendy, pulling together and trying to get along.  We continued to argue over who played with which doll, or what we did, but eventually had to decide on something because we were it. Our “mature” and “much older” sister wasn’t there anymore to keep the peace, or make a final compromise between all three of us.  Wendy and I had to learn to compromise on our own.

When I reached the age that I no longer wanted to play with toys in general, she almost had reached that too.  Sometimes I played a couple hours with her, just so that I wouldn’t feel like I had abandoned her, for she was the youngest and didn’t have a younger sister to turn to like I did. We now did makeovers and played in makeup colors no grown woman would ever dream of actually wearing. No matter how awful a face came out, or a hairstyle gone wrong, she always made me laugh and take time to have fun with her. We were inseparable when we weren’t mad at each other. 

FROZEN just another Disney movie, I would say not. To me it is much much more. I hope that maybe when you watch the movie you might think about this story or maybe a story about your own childhood or kids and remember with fondness that time that has already slipped by. 

An update on the book, it passed copy editing and Friday, March 21 was put into production which will do the interior layout and formatting. If all things stay on track this book should be published before my April 20th deadline. What an accomplishment to publish two book in less than a year.