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SkylarNovember 4, 2012 my world changed forever.  At 12:40 a.m. my oldest daughter Skylar (16), and two of her friends, Sophie (17) and Julianna (14), were killed instantly in a single car accident involving 6 teenagers.  I’m dedicating this website and blog to my Sky-bird and her two beautiful friends, our 3 angels.  I’m hoping that my faith and understanding will bring some peace and perspective to other families that are struggling with the sudden loss of a loved one, especially a child. I trust that God has a plan and purpose for this tragedy, and today begins my journey of finding mine. God bless you Skylar, Sophie, and Julianna – forever in our hearts.

In 2013 we established The Skylar Kooken Memorial Fund in which we award graduating seniors from Bellbrook High School scholarships in Skylar’s memory. If you would like to contribute please see the link on the site for 5/3 Bank or for her PayPal account. If you would like to mail a check you can send to:

Bellbrook-Sugarcreek School  – c/o Kevin Liming

3757 Upper Bellbrook Rd. Bellbrook, OH 45305

Checks should be made payable to: BSEF .

Skylar Kooken Fund must be written in the memo line.

EIN: 31-1751001     (for tax purposes)

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As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5

The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

A Friend Loves at All Times ……

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A Friend Loves at All Times ……

I am asked often and frequently for advice about grieving. I hate this and I love it.  I hate that other mothers are in the same club that I am in, and I hate that I have first hand knowledge of this horrifying pain. However,  I love that I can use my heartbreak and tragedy for something good…. helping others. It helps to bring me purpose, and a small inkling of healing, knowing that Sky’s death was not in vain.

I will never pretend to have the answers or magic words ….but what I promise is that I will always be honest and forthright.  I know how it feels to be all alone in your grief…this doesn’t mean that you don’t have love and support from friends or family, but ultimately the grieving road you walk is yours and yours alone.

When Skylar was killed tragically I didn’t have anyone to turn to that had been in a similar situation as myself. I knew for sure I did not want to talk with someone who had lost their grandma or aunt etc.,  that is said with no disrespect. What I needed was a  mom who had been thrust into the pits of hell like I had been. One minute everything was perfect and in a split second the world as I knew it had imploded in front of my very eyes.  I needed to talk to someone who would tell me it will hurt like hell FOREVER, but that I WILL survive…. with faith from above and a strong network.

One of the very first things that I tell a newly grieving mother is this: Pray, and keep your circle tight. The early stages of grief are no time for fringe friends, bandwagon or funeral chasing friends. If you’ve stood where I stand, then you know exactly what I mean.

Will told this story at Skylar’s funeral and it has stuck with me ever since.

Will and 3 friends had been playing basketball at a park near our house, when the 4 of them had the brilliant idea of pranking the easily, gullible Skylar.  Will called Skylar and told her a fight had broke out at the park and they thought they killed a guy in the process. Skylar of course is freaking out and tells them to hurry up and come over. The boys get to our house, Sky opens the garage door and lets them pull inside.  They tell her the body is in the trunk (and of course one of the boys was curled up in there for the full effect).  They lift the trunk and Sky looks at the time and says – “guys we have to hurry my mom will be home in 30 mins!”

When I think of the friends that I WANT and NEED in my life from this day forward – they sure as hell better be just like Skylar – willing to hide a body for me!  That sounds morbid I’m sure to some of you – but I hope you see the bigger picture. Sky was the type of friend that we should all strive to be and all strive to have.   If you are a grieving mother (parent) you can NOT settle for less, or you will never make it on this life-long journey of grief. Find a friend (s) that will hide the body for you.

** Since my last posting we hosted our annual Birthday Party Fundraiser for Skylar and on May 24th, 2017 we were able to award 5 more graduating Bellbrook seniors with $1,000 (each) scholarships in Sky’s honor. We have now gifted over $25,000 in Skylar’s name. Thank you to each and every one of you for your continue love and support.

 

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

What do you say to a grieving parent (person)?

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What do you say to a grieving parent (person)?

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I have been urged a lot lately to keep writing. I have slowed my roll, so to speak, often not wanting to write unless I had something encouraging to share, let’s be honest our world is bleak enough. However, I realized I write to of course keep Sky’s name alive, but also for me….because I need it…it is healing and somewhat therapeutic.  At the end of it all if I have helped just 1, then that is good enough for me.

I have spent a lot of time recently thinking of things that others say to us that are grieving.  I may have even touched on this before in a prior blog post, however sitting at almost exactly 4.5 years, I feel I’ve earned the right to be brutally honest.

Let me be very clear, 99.9% of you mean well and good when you offer condolences to those that are grieving or have just suffered a tragedy, I realize that. If you are not a grieving parent then you don’t know what you don’t know…I recognize that fully.  I do however hope to educate those that love someone who is deep in their grief.   I am often asked by people “what can I say to my friend who just lost her child? Please give me the words, I don’t know what to say!”

I respond to this question the same way every time… there is NOTHING that you can say that will make any part of their grief okay, lessen, or go away; know that first and foremost. Offer your love, support and prayers – BUT, only if you mean it.  Let me explain.

I take prayer VERY, very serious. There is not a chance in hell that I could have survived the last 4 years without so many prayer soldiers on my side. I beg of you, do NOT offer to pray for someone if you are not going to do it!  I often see a million “prayers to you, I’ll pray for you, prayers!” all over social media when tragedy strikes someone. Call me a cynic but I look at those and think “are you really praying?”  If I tell someone I will pray for them I do it! Even if I stop what I am doing and offer up a prayer in that very moment, because I know what it means to be prayed for. I repeat, don’t offer to pray for someone if you are not going to do it!  They are empty promises and someone walking the lonely road of grief needs anything but more emptiness.

Stop with the “so sorry’s and I’m so sorry for your loss”.  I mean no disrespect for those that say it and have said it to me, it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate your words, but let’s be honest, that phrase is over-used and underwhelming.  I know that in a time of loss most of us don’t know what to say so we feel we HAVE to say something… guess what, you don’t.  It doesn’t mean you ignore that your friend or loved one is hurting, but try and gather some true words of love and encouragement. We all know you’re sorry — no one likes death — we’re all sorry for it, but we don’t want to hear that.  Tell me you love me, that you loved Sky, share a story, offer an encouraging quote…leave the I’m sorry’s at the door, please.

Don’t offer your help or assistance if you don’t truly mean it. How many times have you read (or maybe said it to someone yourself) “I’m here if you need me!”  Guess what? The LAST thing a grieving mother (parent) is going to do is pick up the phone and ask for your help. I tell people who ask me what they can do, to just DO IT!  GO to their house and clean it, show up with a casserole, knock on their door and give them a hug, leave a coffee on their front porch…sometimes you just show up and do nothing at all. I appreciate every last person that was there for me (especially in the early days) but it was the ones that showed up unannounced, even just for a minute or 2, that left lasting impressions on my broken heart.

Please stop telling a grieving parent that “it was God’s will, God is in control, it was God’s timing, and/or you will see your loved one again one day.”  I say this while treading lightly…all these things are said with good intentions, I know that.  For those that are not believers, all of those messages are even LESS meaningful, and for those of us that ARE believers, it offers little comfort.  I am the first person to stand up and declare that God is indeed in charge and that YES someday I WILL embrace my sweet, beautiful angel again! Nevertheless, none of those phrases take the sting away and at times they can make one angry with God. Yes I said it! Guess what God? Sometimes your plans suck!  I accept them and I believe in your promises, but you could have saved my baby and you didn’t, so today I am mad at you.  And so it goes…..

Lastly, “you will get through this” is quite frankly the dumbest phrase ever spoken to a bereaved mother.  There is NO getting through anything. To get through something suggests that you can, and will pass through the obstacle…. this is not something you will EVER get through and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Many of you have heard me say this a million times and often I use the same analogy…in time, you will learn to walk beside the pain.  There will always be a deep, dark hole that you will learn to walk around, and your goal each day is not to fall in.

In summation, don’t offer to pray for those grieving unless you are 100% committed to doing so. Stop telling us that you are sorry…we know you are..we all are; death sucks!  No more offering your help, or I’m there for you…. just do it!  Please eliminate “it was God’s plan” or any variation of the phrase from your vocabulary. The believers already know and the others don’t care! Finally, there is no getting through anything when it comes to losing a child.  You get through adolescence, you get through a job you hate…. you don’t get through death.

Specifically to my fellow grieving mothers (and fathers), I sit here at 4.5 years and the pain is still unbearable, there are still days when I debate whether I should get out of bed, and the emptiness in my heart/life is as big as ever.  What has changed is the guilt that I used to feel for living, and laughing, and loving. I know without a doubt that I have to go on and continue to at 110% . Your tribe and your faith will be the 2 most important things that you can do for yourself.  Lean on God daily and pray for strength, you are going to need it!  Surround yourself with those you love, trust, and who ONLY have the best intentions. Now is not the time for fringe friends, drama, or energy wasted on broken, irreparable relationships. Focus on you and yours and be surrounded by love.

To my tribe and loved ones…. thank you for always being there for me, for listening to countless hours of stories about Skylar, the 4 plus years of prayers, the numerous texts/calls to check on me, your patience and understanding, and most of all… for remembering Sky.  Those of you that knew her feel the loss right along with me, and for those that only know her through me, thank you for taking the time to get to know her.

 

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

 

Shameless Plug for Skylar’s 21st Birthday Celebration and Scholarship Fundraiser:  Saturday May 6th  8pm at Soft Rock Cafe – Centerville, Oh.  Thank you for all of the continued support. We have awarded over $20,000 in scholarship funds since 2013!

The Truck

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The Truck

4 years 2 mos without you…….

I promised myself, and Skylar, that I would never make “this” about how she died, but rather I would focus on how she lived.  She was an amazing soul, a beautiful young woman, and someone that I was proud to call my daughter. At nearly 17 years old, I could already see the incredible woman that she was becoming. She lived like all of us should …. in the moment.

I never felt that I was ready to see “the truck” that Skylar took her last breath in, “the truck” that would become her final ride, “the truck” that ultimately took my baby from me. Something in me changed in the last few months and I knew that I needed that small piece of closure. Just a few moments with this enormous hunk of steel…..a few moments to scream and yell at a “truck” that couldn’t and didn’t keep her safe.

Several weeks ago I  reached out to the responding officer and asked if I could finally have my time with “the truck”. Regretfully, I was told that it had been destroyed. I felt a pang of sadness, for some strange reason I knew that I needed to see it, even 4 years later.  The passage of time does not resonate for a grieving mother (parent)….4 days – 4 years – 40 years;  the pain is still there, the absence still exists, and the grief is still overwhelming.

2 days ago Skylar’s boyfriend contacted me and shared that he had learned that “the truck”  had NOT been destroyed.  You can only imagine my shock when I heard this news. The irony of it all did not escape me either. After some digging and several phone calls, I located “the truck”.  It had been transferred to a holding facility, and because this was such a high profile case, the location of “the truck” had been kept relatively quiet. (I will mention, the responding officer had been given the wrong information and did not deliberately share misinformation with me.)

I knew that I needed to see “the truck” right away, and alone.  I needed this time.  When I called  I was told that I would have to make it soon, as it would be destroyed this week. The gentleman agreed to meet me yesterday afternoon. I prayed the entire drive over and asked Sky to please be with me and to reveal to me what it was that I needed so badly from this.  I also prayed for strength, the last thing I wanted to do was break down in front of these total strangers.

As I pulled into the lot I caught a glimpse of “the truck” between a crack in the boards of the wooden fence, and my heart immediately sank and my hands began to sweat. I tried to make small talk with the man, as if this were a normal occurrence.  He led me behind a large fence and said “there it is”, as if I needed any direction.

I don’t know how long I stood there before I approached “the truck” but it felt like an eternity. I slowly walked around , peered inside and shook my head as I tried to wrap my mind around what I was seeing.  I saw several pictures from the night of the accident, however, seeing it in person was powerful, impactful, horrifying, painful, and downright tragic. I stared at where Skylar last sat, where she spoke her last words, where she laughed her last laugh, where she typed her last text, where she took her last breaths, and where she undoubtedly felt her last fear.

I stood there and imagined what the 3 of them encountered, and I was angry that “the truck” could not save them. I am angry that I read stories every single day of deaths by car accident, and pissed off that nothing seems to change.  The man waited for me in the distance and I found myself walking towards him. I noticed a younger man had joined him and they were both watching me. I shared with them how 3 had lived and how 3 had died, and that Sky was wearing her seat belt….and dammit that life is not fair! I told him that I wanted to place the stupid “truck” in my front yard for EVERYONE to see — because THIS could be your reality.

He shook his head and said “sadly we donate cars/trucks much like this one to high schools and nothing much seems to change”. He also told me that he was very familiar with the accident…of course he was, who isn’t in this town?  I could tell that my sadness was making him uncomfortable and I knew that I wanted to leave and revert to the safety of my car, where I could cry in peace and scream in anger.

As I drove home, a comforting peace washed over me and I heard my baby’s voice say, “I’m good mom, I’m okay, please don’t cry. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

I knew right then that I needed to share this experience, because there is SOMEONE out there that it will help…save….encourage….strengthen….wake up …….

I will continue to share Sky’s story and to insure that her legacy lives on through me.  I will strive to exemplify a God-fearing mother who knows that without my faith I would never survive the pain. And I promise to always pray for grieving mothers (parents) much like myself who struggle to find the will to go on.

Forever and always, I love you more Skylar.

 

Give them wings …..

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Give them wings …..

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12/2/15 – 3 years, 28 days since you gained your wings.

I came across this image the other day and it amazed me what the true meaning of the sign is versus how I took the meaning to be. Skylar was on the cusp of adulthood and all too ready to spread her wings. Wings that I prayed diligently for, wings that I hoped I had helped shape into strong, independent and confident vessels. I could look at her, and through the attitude and adolescence, I saw a blossoming, smart, courageous and loving young woman. A friend. A daughter. A confidant. I knew she would be just fine in this cruel world, because I gave her roots and I knew all too soon that I would have to give her wings, and let her fly.

Never did I imagine that the wings that she would be given would not come from me but instead from her heavenly father. Not exactly the wings you want for your teenage daughter. I was readying myself to let her soar, not to let her go.

But just like this image, I see and interpret most things differently these days. That’s what grief will do to you. It’s not all bad. I can see the truth in things that most, who have not suffered tragedy, can not. I can discern between what is truly important and what is irrelevant, and choose to instead, focus on what matters in this lifetime.

I know that I am here to share Sky’s story, remind others that God IS good,  in spite of tragedy and hurt, and to offer my love and support to those who are suffering. Despite enduring the single most tragic event that a mother can experience, I will not let this rock my faith. I know I still have purpose on this earth  and so does Skylar’s life and legacy.

I will continue to give my children roots, and the wings that I help shape, will carry them through life and ultimately to their forever home. Because really, what else matters?

As always Sky….. I love you more.

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I have compiled my first 2.5 years of blog postings into book format. Proceeds from this book will benefit Skylar’s scholarship fund. If you know anyone that can be helped from our tragedy please share this link:

https://www.createspace.com/5825907

 

 

 

 

Live as if you only have today….

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Live as if you only have today….

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I spent the better part of last evening packing up Skylar’s room for our move this weekend. I had numerous friends and family offer to help me with this task that I have been dreading since the day I put the house on the market. In the end, I decided to do it alone. I wanted time to reflect, to cry, to scream and to talk to her by myself. The quote I have attached here “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you only have today” is posted on Sky’s wall. She hated it. She told me it was dumb, cliche and to take it off of her wall. I would laugh each time she asked me to remove it and say ” no, it reminds me of you.”  In the end I won, it stayed on her wall. I sat down yesterday on her floor and I sobbed as I held onto her things and tried desperately to feel her arms around me. I looked up and read this quote, really read it and remembered how much Sky thought it was “stupid”, but how it described her perfectly. She lived, she really lived.  I of course cried harder and even managed to laugh at her numerous pleas for me to take it down or her threats to “cover it up.”  Then I thanked her, for once again teaching her mother a thing or two about life. Live as if you only have today…..A cliche we have all undoubtedly stated but do we actually practice it? I doubt it….most of us live as if we have forever to make things right…putting off today what we think we can accomplish tomorrow. I’m guilty, I am sure you are too.

I have reminders of these 3 angels all around me, not just in my memory but physical reminders of them in my home, my car, my office, even on my body. Reminders that we don’t get to choose when we go, reminders that life is short, unpredictable, unfair and sometimes downright horrifying. But these are also my reminders of a love so great and a promise so incredible that our human mind can hardly comprehend it.

Here is an example of God’s great love and my baby always watching out for her momma. I packed the very last item in Sky’s room yesterday and I stood there in a form of shock and looked around her nearly empty room. Standing there I thought about how Sky will have no “fingerprints” at our new house and my heart broke and I felt my breath catch. In that moment my back door opened and I heard a familiar voice yell “momma – hellllo!!”  I walked out of Sky’s room to see Will.  Not only Sky’s ex-boyfriend but certainly one of her best friends in the world. A person that loved her and understood my love for her. I hugged him and cried. I couldn’t even tell him how his impromptu drop in was heaven sent, coming at the exact moment that I needed someone to put their arms around me, someone that loved and missed her too. Soon my tears turned to laughs as we joked about Skylar and shared memories. Thank you God, thank you Skylar and thank you Will …..sometimes it’s the little things that become the big things.

To my fellow grieving and broken moms…. I am at 2 years 8 mos and the pain is not any less, the missing is not any better and the tears still fall when I least expect them. But I have learned to pay attention to signs and to feel when she is near. Every day she lets me know that she is where she is suppose to be.

As I packed a few of her items last week, I started crying as I was trying to decide what to do with some of her clothes. I audibly heard her say ” get rid of it mom, I don’t need those anymore.” Through my tears I said aloud, and quite angrily  “I know you don’t!! But that doesn’t make it any easier!”  She made me mad that day lol. But she was right and it gave me comfort in knowing that letting go of some of her things didn’t mean I was letting go of any part of her. She knows I hate clutter, she was giving me permission to un-clutter a few things. 😉

Watch for the signs. Be patient. Open your heart. You too will see them, feel them, hear them.

I love you more Skylar Lynn, thank you for continuing to teach your mom a thing or two.

You were one in a million.

 

If you would like to support Sky’s 2nd annual 5K on August 2nd – here is the link:

http://www.keysports.net/#!2nd-Annual-Skys-The-Limit-Memorial-5K/cra1/i6jv96bh29

 

For the strong ones….

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For the strong ones….

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Grief is a surreal feeling, hardly even possible to define. Grief for a sudden and tragic death is life shattering. Grief for your child is a mind blowing excruciating pain….without end. With every step I take and with every breath I breathe, I feel the loss and carry the sadness like a heavy bag.

I passed the cemetery on my way to work this morning as I often do when I take that route, and without hesitation I made the turn and in an instant my stomach was in knots and tears began to sting my eyes. I’ve made this visit a million times over the last 2 years and it never gets any easier. As I was turning into the cemetery a few cars passed and I thought to myself “I wonder if they have any idea how broken of a person I am? I wonder if they realize what a cemetery represents for so many of us…too many of us…?”

I continued my journey into the cemetery and parked just a few yards from the girls. What a beautiful morning, sun shining bright, light breeze, and the smell of fresh cut grass. A day the girls would take full advantage if they were here, that much I am sure of.

I took my breakfast with me and settled up onto Skylar’s bench and let the tears fall. 2 ½ years later and yes I am still angry. Angry that I was robbed. My kids were robbed.  Sky’s family was robbed. Sky’s friends were robbed. The girls were robbed. I try not to think this way or allow the anger consume me, but human nature and the mother bear in me wants to turn back time and fight, scream and beg like hell for God to spare them. “Please God, why  can’t the outcome be different!?” If only……….

Instead there I sat this morning, broken and tired, so tired. I watch another school year come to an end; kids excited for summer break and freedom; parents planning graduation parties, senior pictures and college visits……and here I am at a cemetery trying desperately to be still and feel their presence. Praying to God for continued strength to move forward and to give others hope that if I can do this, they can too.

I think of grief and coping kind of like anger and forgiveness. When you forgive someone it does not make everything “ok” and it does not make what happened “ok”….you allow yourself to forgive so that you can move forward and attempt to sort through the hurt. I am finding ways to cope with my grief, not because I am “ok” or will ever be “ok”…..but because I have to be present for my children and for myself,  and there is no other choice but to latch onto my faith and hope. The grief will never leave. The pain will never stop. The void will never be filled. And more than likely 20 years from now I will still experience anger….anger for time that I lost, experiences left unfilled and memories that were ripped from my grasp.

I have met countless mothers on the same journey as myself and many are still gasping for air. My heart is heavy for every last one of you…for us. Hold tight to your memories, pray to God for strength, surround yourself with love, have faith in what will be, and find a purpose. I have said it before and I remind myself of it daily; God does not make mistakes. Not ever. Not even one time.

The strongest person in the world is a grieving mother that wakes up and keeps going every morning.
   -Tara Watkins Anderson

 

Finding the courage to soldier on

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Finding the courage to soldier on

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Long over due blog post…..I’ve missed sharing with you all. So much has happened since I last wrote…..continued twists and turns through this cruel life.

We lost another one of Skylar’s friends to a sad and horrific tragedy last month. The call I received the morning of his death brought every single one of my emotions crashing in on me. Before I knew it my house was filled with her distraught and grieving friends. So much of it mirrored Skylar’s death, my heart  was shattered for all of them. There we sat on an early Sunday morning crying in my living room, just as we had 2 years prior. I looked around at these sad and shocked faces and silently asked God, “why…why this group again?!”  Haven’t they been through enough?”

I never got my answer of course. But I prayed…I prayed for all of them and I prayed for myself. I felt as if I was reliving my own nightmare. I selfishly struggled with attending his viewing, knowing it would create flashbacks that I wasn’t sure if I could handle just yet.  I entered that room and looked around and saw so many of the same faces that showed up and cried for Skylar and Sophie and I thought my heart could not possibly break anymore… I was wrong. Sweet Jesus, life is cruel, unforgiving and comes with zero guarantees. Thank you God for your forgiveness and your guarantee that there is more to life after death.

I’ve faced some criticism over the past 2.5 years because of my willingness to forgive and I won’t apologize for it. Who am I to not forgive when God forgives me daily?  Seems so cliche, I know…”I forgive because He first forgave me.”  I don’t need to post a bunch of Bible quotes to emphasize my point, but I think it is safe to say that Jesus is big on forgiveness.  If you have any faith at all, I would hope you could agree that we (human race) would be no where without the forgiveness and unconditional love from our Heavenly Father.  How could I possibly sit here and have faith that Skylar is in Heaven and yet refuse to free my heart from hatred and bitterness? This is my journey and for the bulk of it, it is a journey that I travel alone. Not for lack of having loved ones surround me but for the simple sad fact that it just IS a lonely journey. And on my journey I will do my best to focus on what God has waiting for me on the other side and my biggest encouragement is to see Sky’s smile, hear her laugh and feel her sweet loving arms around me.

I know that I travel this alone….but I’m also not naive enough not to realize that HOW  I choose to travel will ultimately affect those in my path; mainly my children. “Lead by example” they say…….I hope and pray that I am showing them the best way to their eternity. It may not be the easiest….but I think all of us who knew and loved these girls, learned a long time ago that life sure as hell isn’t easy.

Since I last wrote, we celebrated Skyar’s 19th birthday. If you’re reading this and you have lost a child then you know how significant birthdays are. I woke up the morning of March 25th feeling like the weight of the world was resting on my chest. I knew I had to get up and make the day count. As I have done for her last 2 birthdays, I spent the day with Lexy, so very bittersweet; wanting nothing more than to be able to put my arms around both of my beautiful girls, but knowing my reality was waiting for me at the cemetery. I bought balloons that morning and wondered if the check out girl had any idea that I was taking them to a grave.  It broke my heart as she asked me “does the birthday girl like yellow?”  I was too tired to say otherwise and just shook my head yes, inside my heart broke.

I hope my posts remind you to love a little harder, forgive a little quicker and be grateful for a loving Father that promises us a perfect eternity.

 

Thank you to all that supported Skylar’s fundraiser and birthday party last weekend ….. you warmed this mother’s heart.

On May 20th , 2015 we will award 2 graduating Bellbrook Seniors with scholarships in Skylar’s name.

We also have her 2nd Annual SKY IS THE LIMIT 5K planned for Sunday August 2nd — here is the link to register: http://SkysTheLimitMemorial5K.itsyourrace.com/

 

Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

2 corinthians 2:5-8 NIV

If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.

 

I love you more Skylar, Sophie, Julianna and John

 

The Last Ride

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The Last Ride

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My heart has been heavy these past few weeks thinking of the girls last day on this earth. Many times the thoughts that flood my mind are not something I can control; but I am learning that most of these images are part of the grieving process and in order for me to properly grieve, I need to let them seep in and at times even allow them consume me. I need to feel and I need to be real with myself and know that the pain will always be there, nothing will ever change that.

It’s easy to allow the mind to take you to all of the dark places of grief, especially in a tragedy as massive as this.  I am slowly learning that Sky would not want that of me. She would ONLY want me to remember her with a smile.

I pass the crash site twice a day, every day, on my way to work, and there isn’t a time that I don’t think of their last few minutes. I wonder what they were doing, what they were thinking, if they were singing, if they were texting…….I simply wonder. In my mind I refer to it as “their last ride”…… carefree and no doubt laughing and carrying on.

To know these 3 girls, was to love them. It seems cliche because they are gone so of course everyone professes their love for them…but it was different with them. I had the pleasure that so many will never get… I knew them and I loved them. I admire all 3 for being strong teenage girls in a time when being strong isn’t so easy.

Their last ride makes me ponder my own death and my own legacy. What will people say about my last ride? What will they say about yours?

Becoming a mother made me strive to be the best that I could be for my children…..losing part of my heart and soul makes me strive to be the best I can be for others. For those hurting….for those drowning in their grief and pain…for those who don’t think they can go on…..for those that think no one else gets it.

I hope someday people look back at my last ride and smile.

I know our angels took their last ride straight to the top.

 

This has become one my most favorite quotes:

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 

We have two upcoming fundraisers for Sky’s Scholarship Fund: Save The Dates!

April 11, 2015 – 7:30pm – 2:00am — Fundraiser and 19th Birthday Party Celebration 

Join us at Soft Rock Cafe in Centerville  (21 & up) for live music, raffle prizes and more!

 

August 2, 2015 8:30am – 2nd annual 5K Memorial Run (starts & ends at Bellcreek Elementary in Bellbrook)

Link to register online: >> http://SkysTheLimitMemorial5K.itsyourrace.com/

If you want to mail in a paper copy please visit site below and print off paper registration: 

http://www.keysports.net/#!2nd-Annual-Skys-The-Limit-Memorial-5K/cra1/i6jv96bh29

 

Reflection

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Reflection

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REFLECTION:  noun
 1. the act of reflectingas in casting back a light or heat, mirroring, or giving back or showing an image; the state of being reflected in this way.
 2. an image; representation; counterpart.
 3. a fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration.
 4. a thought occurring in consideration or meditation.
 5. an unfavorable remark or observation.
 6. the casting of some imputation or reproach.
It has been some time since I have written, and for good reason. I have spent the last several weeks reflecting. Thinking A LOT about Skylar, about what I taught her while I had her, and probably more importantly what she taught me….in life and in death.  I reflected on the path my life is on and what my journey has looked like over the last 2 years and 2 months without her. I have reflected on my relationships and on my own growth and healing.
I looked up the definition of reflection today, even though I’m quite familiar with what it means. What stood out to me wasn’t what I was defining in my own head as reflection (a fixing of the thoughts on something) but rather the “representation; counterpart” meaning of the word.  It made me stop and think about what I represent to other grieving moms and what do I reflect as Skylar’s mom?
You have all read my words over the last few years of making sure that I make Sky proud every day that I am on this journey through hell, and that of course will not change. However, I certainly feel that it is my moral obligation (for lack of a better term) to represent grieving mothers in an honest and raw light. As well as represent myself in such a way to other grieving mothers, so that they know they are not alone….if I can keep breathing every single painful day…so can they.
I hear on a daily basis how strong that I am, and honestly I am not strong. What I am is broken and angry, but even more so, I am faithful. I am faithful in my ever stumbling walk with God. Albeit no where from perfect; I’m faithful in God’s promise that he is holding those 3 babies in his arms and keeping them until we meet again.
This is nothing new for me to say, but today I felt a strong urge to remind those that are struggling. I am no different than you. I don’t hurt any less, I don’t cry any less, I don’t sin any less, I don’t scream “WHY?!” any less……..but I do make a conscious decision every day to remember WHERE  she is and WHO she is with.
So my big light bulb today was, while I have been reflecting on ME and what I am missing and longing for….God reminded me that others are watching, and the reflection of my faith in Him should be my ultimate goal.
Please don’t stop the prayers for us grieving parents….as time rolls on we need them more than ever.
Romans 5:3-5 – “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Silent Tears

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Silent Tears

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I wish 2 years later that I could tell the new grieving parents out there, that my pain has lessened. I wish I could tell them that my tears have stopped. I wish I could tell them that my anger has subdued. I wish I could tell them that it all makes sense. I wish I could tell them that I am okay.

I can’t say any of those things…but I can say that by the grace of God and through the love and prayers of family and friends, I’m surviving and I’m actually learning to live again.  To those that don’t understand the path of a grieving parent, I’m sure often times it appears we are doing good. You see our smiling photos on social media, you hear our laughs in a crowded room, you watch us as our lives seemingly move on much like your own. But that’s the great pretender in us….we have little choice but to pretend all is okay. We know the burden we carry and we know how heavy it is for others to try and comprehend it….so we fake it. We fake it to try and make you all less uncomfortable with our pain.

Thank God for the people in my life that I don’t have to fake it with….for those that God has blessed me with that allow me to openly talk about Skylar and the raw pain and emotions that still consume me.  I read something the other day by someone who had also lost a child and it referred to the black hole that will always follow us and that it is our job and goal to walk around it and not fall in. I thought about that for many days and just how true it is. It’s so very easy to look at the cards life dealt you and want to jump into that hole and let it soak you up.  But as a mother to 3 others that need me, as a friend that I know people rely on, as a daughter and a sister that I know my family can’t bear to lose…..it is my job NOT to fall in, but to learn to walk around it….every single second of every single day.

A good friend sent me this poem today and I want to share it with you, maybe it will help remind you of the daily pain we struggle with.

 

Silent Tears

Each day as evening starts to set

The ache builds in her chest

She knows that she must go to bed

And try to get some rest

She hugs her tear stained pillow close

When no one is around

And cries for one she loved and lost 

And screams without a sound

Others see her in the day

And think she’s doing well

But every day as evening sets

She enters her own hell

Time hasn’t healed her pain at all

Or quieted her fears

So every night, alone in bed

She sheds those silent tears

No matter how many years have passed, if a friend who has lost a child crosses your mind, say a prayer for them, trust me, they need it. We walk a path that never ends, it has no remedy for the pain and no ending to the agony. It just simply is. Some days are more bearable than others and some days bring us to our knees and shake us to our core……we will most likely always be the ones that need a little extra TLC. But we will also be the first ones that you can lean on for comfort and understanding.  No one understands pain like a grieving mother/father….no one.

As I always say…..hug your babies and tell those you love what they mean to you. Don’t wait, because life certainly won’t wait for you.

I love you more Skylar Lynn…in life you taught me what love was and in death you have given me strength I never knew I had.

Fighting through the hell

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Fighting through the hell

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What a hell of a ride it has been. I look back over the last 22 months and I am in awe at how far I’ve come, yet how stagnant I’ve become. I feel I need to speak directly to those struggling parents out there or to those that are trying to love and be there for those struggling. It’s one hell of a torturous road.

You say you get it and you understand and you recognize, but I am here to tell you that you don’t. By no fault of your own of course…you just don’t. You can’t. Those of us in this deep grief can hardly understand it and wade through it, how could you possibly? That’s why this road of grief is so lonely and sad, because we travel so much of it alone; trapped within ourselves, fighting through the pain.

I told a friend this morning that Sky’s death has shaped me in ways that I don’t even understand and in many of those ways, I don’t like the shape I’ve taken. I’m quick to anger, afraid to trust, terrified to let go and bitter about my journey. Not always of course. God has his way of getting through to me and reminding me to keep on keepin’ on…..but it’s a tiresome road. The most tiresome journey I have ever endured. It’s a constant battle between tears, screaming, questioning and moving forward.

We have no choice but to press on because to give up, isn’t even an option.

Every day I seem to meet someone new that is traveling the same road as me…some are further down the road and some have just begun. In the end we all look like mirrors of one another. Sure, we all grieve differently and the circumstances of the death may vary and we may not all believe and have faith in God above….but we are the same in so many ways. Normally meeting others like you is comforting….not anymore. I hate meeting others like myself as it just reminds me that this world is cruel and unjust and I still have 3 babies here that must endure it.

So for you grieving moms (and dads), know that your journey is never ending and it will have many forks and twists and turns and, sometimes you will find yourself standing right back where you began; angry and disappointed at yourself for feeling so lost and confused.  “Pull it together Kelli!”  “Stop focusing on what is gone!”  “Put a smile on your face!”  “Be thankful!”  “Put on your big girl pants and lead the way!”   “You’re stronger than this!”  <<<< Ah the things we tell ourselves all in the name of surviving the pain.  Take the time to look yourself in the mirror, remind yourself that you are human and you will lose your way, you will forget what direction you should be heading in, and it is OK to threaten to give up!  Remind yourself that you are enduring the single most excruciating pain known to mankind — even in the animal kingdom mothers protect their babies to the death and mourn them! Then drop to your knees and pray. Pray for strength to get through another day, pray for guidance while on your journey through hell and pray for God to surround you with loving, supporting, patient and understanding people. Lastly, pray for God to use you.

When my purpose here seems clouded, I pray for God to use me; if he’s using me, I can’t give up.

 

The-Grieving-Mother

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Hopeful

4 comments

Hopeful

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Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Home – Phillip Phillips 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If you recall almost 1 year ago to the day I posted a blog referring to this song. I didn’t plan to revert back to it – but some times I think Sky knows just what I need. While going through Sky’s notes section on her iPhone last summer I came across the title for this song and a few of the lyrics, and it was a reminder to me. As if heaven sent, directly from Skylar to me. It so happened that as I was crying for my baby girl the other morning this song came on and touched me yet again and I knew that it was Sky and God gently reminding me to be patient….to settle down and remember that it will all be clear.

I think we all need reminders like this…..whether we are grieving for a child, a parent, a friend, a spouse or just struggling with life.  I’m blown away by how quickly and easily one’s priorities shift. I said for many weeks/months after the accident that if just 1 person was helped through Sky’s death, then her work here was done; and I certainly believe lives were changed….however, it saddens me that perspectives are lost so easily.

I don’t wish this pain, that us grieving parents carry, on a single living soul; but what I do hope for is a recognition from others of just how important faith, family and love is. And I pray that it doesn’t take a life changing, debilitating, tragedy for that to occur.  Call me naive but man, just think what a little love, forgiveness, acceptance and faith could do for this cruel world.

Life is short people – wake up! Why is that so hard for us as a society to grasp?

I talk to Skylar a lot ….call me crazy, doesn’t bother me one bit 😉  I know that the one thing Skylar wants her friends and family to know is that you get one shot here and we had better take it serious and make an impact while we can. Even from eternity that little booger is still teaching me things.

I receive emails from people all over America who read this blog and thank you God for allowing this tragedy to touch so many. I write for therapeutic reasons, but I also write to share Sky’s story and to continue to give people hope and encouragement, in this bleak and cruel world. I do it FOR Sky and WITH Sky. I know with every stroke of the keyboard that Skylar is writing along with me, using me.

I want to remind people,  if I can do it – so can you!  Had you asked me a day before this tragedy if I could survive my teenage daughters untimely and tragic death; my answer would have been a solid NO!  It’s amazing what God can do for you and through you and what love can do to carry you through.

I am forever broken, forever changed, forever fearful and forever void of a piece of my heart….but with my faith anchored in eternity, I am hopeful. I am hopeful that God will continue to give me strength when I can’t find it on my own. I’m hopeful that Skylar will continue to give me signs that she is with me every step of this horrendous journey. I am hopeful that my 3 babies still on this earth will see a mother that didn’t give up and who forgave even when her heart was breaking. I am hopeful that I can be a light unto others who walk this same painful path. I am hopeful that I am making my Sky-bird proud. I am hopeful that I am an inspiration for those who don’t believe that they can take another step.  I am hopeful.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

 

There is still time to register for Sky’s 5K Run/Walk that will take place this Sunday, August 24th (8:30am)

Follow this link >>>>  http://www.active.com/bellbrook-oh/running/races/sky-s-the-limit-memorial-5k-run-walk-2014

 

 

Finding My Way

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Finding My Way

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Writer’s block…..I feel like I’ve had it for several weeks now.  I have so much in my head and so many feelings to share but the words fail me. I’ve prayed to God since this nightmare began, to use me, to use Sky’s tragic death and her beautiful life, use my grief and my daily struggle…..simply use me.  I’m praying as I type that God works through me for the good of others; for other grieving moms, for grieving friends, sisters, brothers and dads…..or even just a lost soul trying to find answers and hope in this complicated and unforgiving world.  I certainly am a work in progress and I will be until the day I am called home, but I try, and my heart is open.  I have no choice but to be used at this point…it is my means of survival ……my new purpose and journey. Dear God, help me to find the twinge of good amidst this hell on earth.

As I pulled into the cemetery the other day to visit with my 3 angels an overwhelming sadness enveloped me. I’ve driven this same route and made this same visit countless times before but on this day my heart was too heavy for my chest. I recognized what the feeling was….reality.   Reality that this is where my sweet baby’s body lies and that of her beautiful friends. The reality that on her birthday and holidays and the anniversary….that this is where people gather. It’s no longer a group of teenagers piled into her bedroom while I keep peaking my head in and telling her to turn down the music.  They gather here……in a cemetery and sit in the grass and laugh and cry and tell stories. As for me…..it’s where I sit and cry and sometimes I laugh at silly things that come to mind….and I pray. I pray for God to give me purpose in this agony. I have 3 other babies that need me and I know I can’t fall apart every day. I have to find a way to keep my head held high and to be the best that I can be for them and for Sky’s memory.

It’s hard to live a life where you see pity in the eyes of those staring back at you. I see it nearly daily….I see it when I look into a mirror.  It’s in these moments that I feel her, I sense her, and I hear her. I can feel the warmth of her hand on mine and her sweet voice saying “mom, I’m never leaving you.”

I woke last night for no particular reason, other than thoughts of Skylar on my mind. As I laid there and tried to fight the tears and the memories that were haunting me, she came to me and told me to breathe.  These visits from her will never replace what I had but they remind me to keep going, to keep breathing, to keep living. She’s watching and she’s giving me strength when I can’t find it on my own.

 

                                                        “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you”  says the Lord. Isaiah 66:13 

                                                                                                                      isaiah6613

 

 

** Thank you to all my readers and followers. There is no greater gift that you can to give me than to think about Skylar, follow my journey, and pray for all of us.

I hope many of you can join us for our 1st annual Sky’s The Limit 5K Run/Walk for Skylar.  (Sunday August 24th 2014)

http://www.active.com/bellbrook-oh/running/races/sky-s-the-limit-memorial-5k-run-walk-2014   <<< register online

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Plan is Greater than My Plan

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His Plan is Greater than My Plan

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I can’t tell you how many times I have referred to this verse when my grief has paralyzed my body. I cling to His promise and pray for divine understanding.  I’ve taken a few weeks off from writing, because in all honestly I had nothing positive to write. That doesn’t mean that I have lost my faith or hope, but there are days, many of them, where the devil gets the better of my emotions and clouds what I know to be true…that God DOES know what He is doing and He has a greater plan.

Since the investigation and trial has finally come to an end I was able to receive a copy of the police report and read it in its entirety, boy was that heavy. Many of you may not understand the need for me to do so and that is okay, it is my journey and not yours.  Much the same way you would research a fatal disease that your child was diagnosed with or the way you would grill the doctors over treatment and a cure, I needed to know every last detail that I could get my hands on about my daughter’s death.  As I have said many times over, I was there when she was created and I was there when she breathed her first breath…not being there for her last breath will forever weigh on my soul.  Although reading those very chilling details was difficult to say the least, it also brought me some form of closure for that part of the tragedy. I was able to read statements from the very first people on the scene (teens that called 911) to the very first medical responders and most importantly I was able to reach out to them and thank them. I thanked them for being there and for trying to save those angels and they gave me peace in knowing that they did not suffer.

I have a lot of guilt lately over my own grief journey. I have some amazing friends that have stood by my side when others have drifted away. I know it is not easy to be ones friend when grief and sadness is always looming over head. I will always remind those who knew me before Sky’s death, that I am no longer that person. It’s sad and it’s almost like a death in itself, but that Kelli is gone. That doesn’t have to be a negative thing and I’m fighting really hard to find my new path and make it the best that it can possibly be with what hand I have been given. I know friends spend a lot of time with me listening to my pain and agony and fears and I’m sorry that lately I don’t always reciprocate. It is not because  I don’t care or I don’t love them or that I do not worry about them. I am so consumed with the fear that Skylar will be forgotten that I don’t know which way to turn some days.  If you are a friend of a grieving mother and you read my blog, just remember that. We aren’t selfish, but there is just not a word large enough to explain how consumed we can become with our child’s death and not wanting them to be forgotten. And when I say forgotten it doesn’t mean in the literal sense… OF COURSE everyone who knew Skylar will always remember her…”forgotten” to a grieving mother means so much more. So to my friends who have stood by my side, I love you and I am always here for you no matter how large you know my pain to be. I know part of God’s plan for me is to be a good listener and to help those that I love.

For my fellow grieving mothers, and there are just way too many of us, I pray that when the days seem dark and the future looks too painful to go on, you will hold on to the verse above, because it is a promise. I AM rooted in faith and anchored in hope, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Please visit the link below if you are interested in signing up for Skylar’s Memorial Run or if you would like to donate or sponsor. God Bless.

http://www.active.com/bellbrook-oh/running/races/sky-s-the-limit-memorial-5k-run-walk-2014

SkyFund

 

 

 

 

Grief is as individual as a snowflake

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Grief is as individual as a snowflake

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Well I made it out of the month of May….the month that stood to test every emotion in my soul. I’m exhausted and broken, but I’m here. Thank you for the love, prayers and support.

I love this photo above of Tate, Sky, Joe & Alana. It shows what a sense of humor Skylar had (yes, that’s shrink wrap) and the love that she had for her friends.

Friday, May 30th we sat in a court room and Tate was sentenced for the accident. The day was nearly as difficult as the day we buried her, every emotion was dug up and we were all forced to relive that awful night. My legs were like rubber and I shook so badly that I thought for sure I was going to pass out.   I knew whatever happened in court and whatever Tate was sentenced to, that God was in control; but I had to do my part and speak for Skylar and tell the judge where our family stood.  I wrote about forgiveness a few weeks after the accident and I think from that posting many of you know where I stand.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t have anger, it doesn’t mean that I don’t cry out to God and ask “WHY HER?!” and it doesn’t mean that I think actions go without punishment or consequences. However, it does mean that I was not put here to be judge or jury, that is what God is for.  And for myself to be able to have ANY sense of normalcy without Skylar, I needed to forgive.

Here is my very personal and heartfelt letter that I read to the judge:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

March 25, 1996…at the age of 21, I looked true love square in the face.  Matt and I were both first time parents, young, in college and still trying to find our way.  Skylar Lynn Kooken entered our world and filled our hearts…true love was born.

Over the next 6 ½ years Skylar would be joined by 3 siblings and she was forever known as “the big sis”  —  it was a role that she filled well.

Skylar was active in sports, plays, reading, and writing from a young age. She eventually outgrew her love of sports but never her love of reading and writing. She knew someday she wanted to do something with English or journalism. Sky had hopes of attending Ohio State University like her dad and myself or even Ohio University where so many of her friends were attending.

Sky’s love and devotion to her friends was unreal…..and that included her love and devotion to her little sister Lexy, at just 2 years apart they even shared many of the same friends.  Sky would do anything for her friends and I mean anything. It may sound cliché or what you would think of any typical teenager but with Skylar it was different. I witnessed it with my own eyes, she wanted others to be happy and she would stand up for them if they needed it and she would protect them to the bitter end. Much to my frustration at times.

Sky was a typical teenager with typical teenage problems, fears, dreams and goals. She made mistakes but she also had a heart of gold and lived her life to the fullest.  Sky left behind not only a devastated and shattered family but many, many devastated & shattered friends.  I believe it’s impossible to have known Skylar and not to have been effected by her.

As her mother and speaking for myself, her dad & her siblings – our lives are forever void of a huge piece of our heart and soul. We will never heal and we will never recover, we are forever broken. Most of my days are spent dreaming of when I will get to see her again.

BUT…..and it’s a big but …. I know God does NOT make mistakes. I know that Skylar’s layover here was complete and she was needed on the other side. Sky continues to change lives every single day from her forever home. I do not understand God’s timing or God’s plan but I trust it. This is our temporary home……and Sky is waiting patiently for the rest of us to join her.

On behalf of Skylar’s dad, siblings, friends and myself we ask for the mercy of the court on your sentencing for Ryan Jesse Whitaker.  Skylar loved Tate and as sure as if Skylar were standing in front of you herself she would ask for the same. Accidents happen and tragedies occur.

The biggest form of payment that Tate could give to me or our family is to make something of himself – live the life that Skylar no longer can. Talk to kids and his peers about what he has endured and the pain he has to live with daily and forever. Be a witness and a testament to God’s saving grace…b/c he was spared that day when 3 others were not. God isn’t finished with him on this earth and there is a reason.  I ask that Tate’s time is not wasted in a detention center but instead that he is able to spend his time making a difference in the lives of others.  We prefer that God be the judge and the jury.

Thank you,

Skylar & the Kooken Family

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It took everything I had in me to get up on that stand and read this letter….especially with the media’s camera in my face. Such a personal and private grieving moment shared with the public, so unfair. But I did it and I know Skylar sat with me the entire time. In the end Tate was NOT sentenced to any time but was given house arrest, suspension of license, probation and a curfew.  I know this judgement was not severe enough for many and that is understandable…those of us directly effected by this loss are allowed to feel however we want…..grief is an individual journey.

I chose to forgive for my own journey and because I know what Skylar would want for me to do. No amount of time behind bars and no amount of restitution will bring those angels back to us and no amount of punishment could affect Tate more than what he has to live with for the rest of his life, I can see the truth in that.

I have said it many times before, my goal is to focus on the life that Skylar lived, not on her death. Yes, I have many days and nights where I am haunted by the reality of her death and in those moments of weakness I am reminded that she will NEVER have another hard day again, no sadness and no pain. All 3 of them are in paradise. I’m jealous, so very jealous.

 In her life, Skylar taught me to be a mom and in her death she has taught me to be a light.

I love you more sweet angel…….

 

2 corinthians 2:5-8 NIV

If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.

 

Graduation Day

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Graduation Day

dinasky       Skygraduation

 

Wow, wow, wow what an emotional roller coaster this month has been, and it’s not over yet. To say that May 2014 is one of the most difficult months of my life is an understatement.  Prayers please for May 30th, as we attend the sentencing for Tate, the driver of the accident. Most of you are aware of where my family and myself stand. I just finished an emotional letter that I  will read to the judge when I address the court this Friday morning….praying for strength and for God’s love and mercy to surround us all.

Seeing Skylar’s empty chair on Saturday morning at graduation nearly brought me to my knees. Even looking at the image now as I type I have to hold back the bile that is forming in my stomach….it’s surreal and it’s a near debilitating image to process.  The image of Dina with Sky above has made me smile and cry all weekend long.

Many times when I sit down to write I do so praying that the outlet will release some of the anger, sadness, frustration, etc that I am holding on to. Some times it does, other times I am just left more exhausted than ever.  I honestly do not know how one soul can carry so much grief…..I am worse for the wear at this point. I am completely and utterly exhausted and the weight of the grief is suffocating.

I’ve been reading a lot lately in different grief groups that I am a part of, and the feelings are all so similar, it’s such a sad reality. So many of us crushed by the grief, feeling as if we are unable to function at 100%, and so exhausted that the mere word  ‘exhausted’  doesn’t even do it justice.  We’re frustrated at others because they can’t possibly understand the level of grief that we carry and frustrated at ourselves and knowing that there is nothing we can do about it. There is no break from grief, no end in sight and no remedy.  The prayers of others and my prayers to God are what get me through. I find it hard to even want to get up for work each day, and we are nearly 19 mos after our loss….the struggle is real, boy is it real.  Some days it is easier to be angry at the world and angry at my path in life, then to try to find the positive in it all.

My heart is so incredibly heavy for all of those traveling the same hellish highway as me…….the weight of all of our grief combined could surely sink this earth and every planet in the atmosphere. I thought to myself the other day while searching for a parking space and I saw several open handicap spaces ( I am NOT discounting the need for handicap spaces) but I said aloud, “Dear God, I feel so handicapped. I am definitely operating with missing appendages and a mangled heart but to those that don’t know me, I look whole”.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again , all of the prayer in the world, all of the amazing uplifting quotes, and all of the hugs from strangers and loved ones alike, will not change what we all still face at the close of each day, and that is a missing piece of ourselves, a gaping painful wound that never closes.  We live with the frustration of knowing that this is a pain that we must endure for the rest of our lives, and that my friends is so tiresome and sad.

Because of this reality it is important for those of you supporting a grieving friend or loved one to remember,  they are forever changed, and they are forever broken, and they are forever grieving. The same way that I believe that God didn’t make a mistake with his calling Skylar to her forever home; I also believe that He knows who he leaves in the path of those that are grieving. God knows what his children need and He places helping hands in front of his broken loves.  Imagine what a beautiful world this would be if we actually did what we were intended for on this earth…to love others and to help others and to encourage others.

I appreciate all of the love and support that we have received in the last 19 months…if you’re a prayer warrior, please don’t ever stop lifting all of us up in prayer and that includes Sophie’s family, Julianna’s family and Tate and his family.

God Bless You All and Happy Graduation Day in heaven, Sky…… your earthly presence is forever missed.

I love you more…….

 

 

 

Angry

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Angry

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I’ve posted this picture because Skylar and Dina have been friends since they were 5 years old…..in 10 days Dina will walk across the stage and accept her High School Diploma, Skylar will not.  This is weighing so heavily on my heart  this month.

I’m trying so hard to be strong and to be positive but I’m angry this month. I’m angry that we had another “anniversary” of their deaths (18 mos), I’m angry that Skylar missed her senior prom, I’m angry that I spent a 2nd Mother’s Day without a hug from her, I’m angry that I am preparing a tribute page in the yearbook for her because she doesn’t have a senior picture to share, I’m angry that I don’t get to plan a graduation party for her or cheer for her as she walks excitedly to accept her diploma, I’m angry that the pain is so intense that I am left exhausted every single day…….I’m angry.

I read something recently about how we experience suffering alone…it islands us. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have loving and supportive people around us (because I certainly do) but at the end of the day the cross and pain is ultimately ours to carry. It’s such a sad and exhausting reality. All the love, support and prayers in the world doesn’t shield us from that.

I felt like I needed to write this entry today for the other suffering moms out there (and dads, grandparents, friends, siblings).  I have met too many lately, new ones with fresh wounds. I’m certainly no expert on grief but I do want them to know that the emotions come in waves and they can change like the wind; to be angry is not to doubt God or His plan….it’s okay to be angry!  It’s okay to be laughing and smiling one minute and the next to feel the bile fill in your mouth as you fight off the urge to become sick at the thought of your precious child’s death. It’s okay to plan for your future and then in the next moment have guilt wash over you like a burning inferno. It’s okay to become frustrated with others around you, because truly NO ONE gets it until they have walked it….it’s impossible.  And it’s okay to feel alone because of this. It’s okay to scream out to God and ask why and it’s okay to have breakdowns that leave you tear streaked, red faced and exhausted. It’s okay to want to cry alone and it’s okay to need a friend or loved one to hold you. It’s okay to fly off the handle and become uber sensitive to everything around you, it’s okay to feel like you are going crazy. It’s also okay to ask for help and to cry out to God for peace.  God won’t reveal His grand design, but He will reveal himself when you call out to him.

I certainly don’t have the answers and I am still fresh in my journey and I experience every single emotion I mentioned above (and then some) but what I do know the answer to is “where is God when it hurts?” ….he’s right there waiting for you to ask for help.

My prayers today are with all of us suffering moms…..we are forever connected on this journey through hell.

Job 5:11: “The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety”

Hebrews 13:5: “I will never leave you nor forsake you”

I love you more Skylar, stay close.

1st Annual Skylar Kooken Memorial Run – see link below for registration information. It is through your support that we are able to continue Sky’s scholarship fund; in 2 years we have given away $12,000 in scholarships. Thank you for helping us keep Sky’s name and legacy alive.

http://www.active.com/bellbrook-oh/running/races/sky-s-the-limit-memorial-5k-run-walk-2014

 

 

The Empty Chair

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The Empty Chair

Empty Chair

 

May 24, 2014….Graduation Day. A day Skylar had dreamed of for years, the day every high schooler longs for……freedom, that first jaunt into adulthood. Today I received the call I’d been dreading, graduation specifics. I can not even begin to tell you how much my heart crumbled after I hung up the phone. One more painful reminder of things we are missing on this earth without her. Skylar’s chair will be covered on that Saturday morning and a single rose will replace where she should be sitting. They will call Skylar’s name as they would if she were accepting the diploma herself, but instead we will accept it in her honor. That’s as good as it gets.

I certainly find myself asking God, especially lately with Sky’s senior prom and graduation fast approaching, how and why? How in His name am I suppose to survive the rest of my time on this earth without her?  Why, when she had so much more to do, to accomplish, to offer? Questions with no answers. I live in Sky-time now (such an accurate phrase coined by one of my closest friends). Everything that happens, has happened or will happen since Sky’s death is measured in Sky-time. I think that’s easy to understand why….life as we knew it changed forever at 12:41 am November 4, 2012. I’m no longer who I was nor will I ever be again. That goes without saying I assume.  But for many, especially those that have never experienced a loss such as this, I know it’s also easily forgotten.

I work very, very hard on Skylar’s Scholarship Fund. I do this because we have 2 things left of Skylar, our memories and her legacy. It’s that simple. I know as well as the next person, that memories fade. I’ll be damned if her legacy ever does. It doesn’t take much to realize what an amazing person Skylar was, even in her short 16 1/2 years on this earth, and I know that she changed lives while she was here and she’s changing lives from her forever home as well.  And our goal is that she changes lives with her scholarship fund as well. The Skylar Kooken Memorial Scholarship Funds’ mission is to help Skylar’s legacy live on through her peers as they continue their education and accomplish what Skylar no longer can. I ask for prayers and guidance as we grow this in her honor.

I also ask for prayers for all of Sky’s family on graduation day. I haven’t quite let myself go there mentally but I can only imagine what it will do to us all when we look at that empty chair….dear God the pain will be agonizing, that I am sure of.

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

 

Ways To Give:

 

In 2013 we established The Skylar Kooken Memorial Fund in which we award graduating seniors from Bellbrook High School $1,000 scholarships in Skylar’s memory. If you would like to contribute please see the link below for her PayPal account. If you would like to mail a check you can send to:

Bellbrook-Sugarcreek School – c/o Kevin Liming

3757 Upper Bellbrook Rd. Bellbrook, OH 45305

Checks should be made payable to: BSEF .

Skylar Kooken Fund must be written in the memo line.

EIN: 31-1751001 (for tax purposes)

To donate to The Skylar Kooken Memorial Scholarship Fund please visit:
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_donations&business=kkooken%40thegreene.com&lc=US&item_name=Skylar+Kooken+Memorial+Scholarship+Fund&item_number=032596&currency_code=USD&bn=PP-DonationsBF%3Abtn_donateCC_LG.gif%3ANonHosted

OR

https://livetogivehq.com/fundraiser/kelli-kooken-for-greene-county-community-foundation

 

 

 

Dear Media

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Dear Media

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Dear Media,

You have managed yet again to break this mother’s heart. I realize that even after 17 mos we are in the spotlight again due to the states case against the driver. I can appreciate that this is newsworthy and that the public is intrigued and definitely weighs in heavily with their sometimes very uninformed and unwanted opinions….however, you are so incredibly insensitive that I’m unsure how some of you sleep soundly at night.

Pictured above:

Skylar Lynn Kooken. Born 3/25/1996 to Matt & Kelli Kooken in Columbus, Oh. First born child, loved beyond measure. Big sister to Lexy, Caden and Ashton. Girlfriend to Tony. Soul mate to Will. Best friend to Sophie, Maria, Mackenzie, Ashley, Alana, Allie, Dina, Brad…..and many more.  Lover of music, writing, animals, friends and family; the best listener and advice giver around. Planned to attend OU upon graduation this Spring. Gone from this earth but never gone from our hearts and souls.

Julianna Sarah Hawk.  Born 6/27/1998 to Bobby & Marcy. First born child, loved beyond measure. Big sister to Jenna and Christa. Best friend to my Lexy and many others. Her laughter could fill a room and her goofiness was loved by all.  Gone from this earth but never gone from our hearts and souls.

Sophie Marie Kerrigan. Born 2/1/1995 to Steve & Janet. Baby girl of the family and a blessing that Jan never expected. Little sister to Aaron and Lucy. Best friend to Skylar and many others. Lover of life and life of the party. Sophie could make you laugh in an instant and her voice impressions still linger in my head. I could yell at Sophie and lecture her and I knew she still loved me. Sophie planned to attend Aveda Institute for cosmetology upon graduation last year.   Gone from this earth but never gone from our hearts and souls.

Janet has a foundation set up for Sophie in honor of her love for all things furry!

http://www.sophiesanimalfund.com/

We of course have a Scholarship Fund set up in honor of Skylar.

https://www.facebook.com/iloveyoumore

These are the things that you should be reporting on and the image above is one that should flash across your screens and websites each time you mention this tragic accident. I opened a story yesterday from last week in which one of the local stations reported on Tate’s guilty plea. Fair enough. The body of the article was fine but the video attached left me sleepless and heartbroken last night. I cried until there were no tears left to cry.

I clicked on the video thinking it would be a recap of what I had read below, but to my horror it was instead an interview with Sergeant White of Sugarcreek PD, standing in front of the scene and what appeared to be shortly after accident. I personally had never seen this footage, but as a mother I can tell you I watched it so many times last night that I can now recite it word for word. I know when watching that video, that Sky, Soph and Jules lay not far off in the distance. You can see the medical examiners walking around. You can’t fathom what my imagination has done with that video. It broke me last night. It broke me down to where I was several months ago and it threw me 100 steps back.  Broken is not even a big enough word…….I feel destroyed, exposed, raw, helpless and exploited.

SHAME ON YOU for continuing to turn the knife deeper and slower into a gaping wound that has no chance of ever completely healing as it stands. Shame on you for NOT focusing on what matters here. 3 lost lives, 3 beautiful girls that have left behind friends and family that will never be the same again, 3 very loved girls that deserve the respect and honor of remembering how they lived and NOT how they died.

I was haunted before I watched that video and now I am completely and utterly traumatized. To you it is an innocent video, to me it is the end of my world as I knew it.

Where does the human side come in? When do the feelings and lasting effects on others supersede what equates to media ratings?

Lessons to be learned here: a car can be a deadly weapon….we ALL need to remember that!  Life is short and there are NO guarantees on this earth. Pain is real and healing will take a lifetime and beyond.  Accidents happen…..we don’t know or understand why, but God does and he doesn’t make mistakes. Every person that leaves this earth leaves behind loved ones that are broken, be sensitive to that. A broken parent is FOREVER changed, don’t expect them to EVER be the same.

____________________________________________________

I love you more Skylar, Sophie and Julianna and I will never stop reminding people how amazing all 3 of you are. Thank you for continuing to change lives all the way from your heavenly home. You were all just too wonderful for this broken world.

 

Happy 18th Birthday Sweet Angel

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Happy 18th Birthday Sweet Angel

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I’m a few days late on this, I apologize. Skylar would have turned 18 on Tuesday March 25th. Something about your baby’s birthday just makes the pain multiply. Knowing the 25th marked the day that she breathed her first breath and the day I fell in love.  March has been one crazy month for me. I managed to stay extremely busy and made it my goal to keep Sky’s name in everyone’s thoughts for her birthday month. We had 3 awesome events for her this month and I THANK YOU ALL who attended or contributed in one way or another.

I of course went to bed on the 24th with a heavy, heavy heart and Skylar (as she always is) was the last thing on my mind before I drifted off to sleep. I woke up with tears in my eyes and a heaviness in my heart and a longing that just doesn’t have a definition. I laid in bed and the memories flooded over me and I let the pain consume me. I’ll never understand why God takes the good ones so soon. That child of mine was loved by so many and left a gaping hole in all of our hearts when she left……..but in her death I know she is continuing to touch lives and for that I am proud.

We lost 3 more this week. Not in our community but in a neighboring one. 3 young teenage boys. It was an eerily similar accident and 3 more precious, young lives gone too soon. My heart breaks for those families and it caused me to revert back to the moment that I was told about the accident and the girls deaths. I don’t wish that on the devil himself, please think of these families and lift them up in prayer.

God is good and He will comfort them in their time of need.

I had a friend share a devotional with me recently and it touched me deeply. It was a reminder that Jesus feels our pain and sorrow.

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35

Many of you know the story of Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary. Martha and Mary deeply mourned the loss of Lazarus. When Jesus arrived to the city gates, Martha rushed to meet Jesus, Mary did not.

It is significant that Mary did not rush to Him. Her grief had overcome her.  When she finally did approach him with her questions, doubt and grief…we are told that Jesus wept.

An excerpt from this devotional: by Suzie Eller

Jesus was so moved by the depths of sorrow from Mary and the others gathered, that the heart of God reached from heaven to weep with them.

Not long after His encounter with Mary, Jesus experienced a sorrow greater than anyone has ever known. In Isaiah 53:4 it was foretold, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (KJV). Heartache was an intimate companion to Christ’s suffering on the cross.

As Jesus wept, He understood the weight of Mary’s grief. He didn’t tell her to move on. Or that she shouldn’t feel this way. Instead, Jesus offered inner peace for inner anguish as He mourned alongside her.

May I share comforting news? In the presence of Jesus, you don’t have to numb it, escape from it or push it down. Your heavenly Father requires none of these. Just as Jesus welcomed Mary, He beckons you to come to a safe place, where your Savior is not afraid of sorrow. This safe place is a haven where the mending of your heart begins, as you are invited to express your grief with the One who was wounded and broken, and who carried your heartache upon Himself on the cross.

Loving Savior, who promises never to leave me or forsake me, who understands the weight I’ve carried, today I invite You to weep with me. I feel joy that I can come to You with open hands to receive renewed life in the midst of my grief. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

_____________________________________________________

I think I will repeat that prayer often.

Signs

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Signs

SkyMe08

 

What I wouldn’t give to re-live this day pictured above…what I wouldn’t give…..

I didn’t think I was going to write again until Sky’s birthday. This month has been emotional for several reasons and I just didn’t have it in me to share publicly. However, sometimes God has different plans. Too many things have transpired this month and I felt a strong urge to share and hopefully encourage a few.

We had our first event for Sky’s birthday month on Tuesday evening at a local restaurant (thank you to all who supported). No one could possibly even know how painful it was for me and that’s understandable. But it does warm my heart that people care and think of her. One of Sky’s best friends showed up and she had something for me. While going through the archive room at the High School she came across several large envelopes with school work enclosed of graduating seniors…school work from middle school. Dina could not find her own envelope but sitting there staring at her was Sky’s work. She handed that to me and I opened it to see Sky’s beautiful handwriting and several of her awesome short stories as well. The flood works began but it didn’t take me long to realize that was no coincidence. Skylar was letting me know that she was with me and that I would make it through this first event.

It is also no coincidence that Ohio (like most of the country) has had the worst winter on the books (at least in my memory) and the day of Sky’s event it was 65 degrees and sunny. Mind you it snowed the very next day.

I came home from work this week to find a book in the mail for me from a friend. A book about grieving and healing. I put it in my purse and planned to look at it later this week. I went over to a friend’s last night and that very book sat on her kitchen island. I said ” Funny, I have that book. A friend just sent it to me.”  She said “that is for you, from the author. She signed it and wants you to have it.” I said,well that means that I am suppose to give this other one to someone else….”

I recently met a new friend from out-of-state on Facebook and she lost her niece suddenly and tragically this week. I’ve read through her posts and have felt her grief and pain. I knew today without a doubt that she is the one I am suppose to share this book with.

Lastly, I had a missed call from a friend last night. She is actually the mom of one of Sky’s friends. I listened to her voice mail before I went to bed and in a nutshell she thanked me for a mother that she recently met who lost her son 1 year ago yesterday. This mother reads my blog and she wanted to thank me for writing it.

Skylar and God continue to amaze me and remind me.  Remind me that I am never alone and that God is using Sky’s tragedy and death for great things. Things that I am not even aware of and may never be.

I’m selfish….I want her back. I’m greedy…I wasn’t ready to share her.  But I’m also full of faith and trust. I know God has her and will keep her until I make it to the other side with her.

I love you more Skylar Lynn………missing you every second of every day.

Love Will Lead the Way

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Love Will Lead the Way

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Lexy is just days away from her 16th birthday and duplicating this very same photo that I took of Sky just 2 years ago. What a bittersweet feeling for me. I am so happy and proud of my Lexy Lou-Lou and of course scared as well; but also so very sad that Sky isn’t here to celebrate alongside of her. Truly the words escape me or maybe they don’t even exist…..I just can’t seem to articulate the emotions that I am feeling.

Of course just 20 days after Lexy’s birthday it will be Skylar’s 18th birthday…..I’m not even ready to share my feelings on that yet.  I feel God trying to protect and cushion me from the emotions that I will feel on that day.

I’ve reflected a lot lately on what the last (almost) 16 months have held for all of us that have lost a chunk of ourselves.  Lots and lots of “groundhog days” of course. Days that hold much of the same; tears, pain, questions, weariness, loneliness, anger, exhaustion, despair, brokenness…..you get the picture. I mentioned the other day in a Facebook posting about “smoke & mirrors”. I think any of us that have experienced this level of pain and loss have learned to play the part of doing “okay”…simply because we have no other choice.  What I have learned in my reflection, and I am sure I have probably written on it before, is the importance of love. What I mean is, surrounding yourself in a constant circle of love. There is simply no other way to survive this emotionally debilitating, life changing tragedy without the love from others.  That may seem so simple and logical and you may even be thinking “well, no duh Kelli.”  However, I challenge you to look around and really “see” who you have by your side. I’ve always prided myself on being a very good judge of character, albeit too trusting and forgiving at times, but I’m pretty “on it” in terms of knowing who is genuine and who isn’t. Never in my life has the importance of love, support and friendship been more important. When you are living out your hell on earth you NO longer have time for “fringe friends”, drama or lack of insincerity. Again, may sound like a “duh statement” but it’s so important.

Having said all of this I love my circle. I love my faithful friends. I love my family. I love my boyfriend. I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed each day without each and every one of them encouraging me, praying for me and cheering me on.  Until you have experienced a loss such that we have (and I pray you never do!) there isn’t an explanation on earth that can hold a candle to how this actually feels. As discouraged as I get many days I also have to applaud myself (and others!) that get up every morning and keep on keepin’ on, as  I like to say. Because trust me, I have moments where giving up sounds okay with me.

“Thank you” doesn’t seem like adequate words but it’s all I have right now…so thank you.  This is a journey that will never end….not until I am on the other side with my angel…..I hope all my friends know that I need them for the long haul. 😉

I pray every day for others just like me that find themselves thrown into this unbearable position of loss and sadness…… speaking for myself, it doesn’t get any easier it just becomes part of who we are.

1 John 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 Peter 4:8  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

John 13:34-35  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

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I have a few events set up in the month of March in celebration of my angel’s 18th birthday. All proceeds from these events directly support Sky’s Scholarship Fund for Bellbrook graduating seniors.

March 11th – Eat at Elsa’s (1216 E Stroop Rd Kettering) anytime between 11am -11pm and tell them you are eating there in honor of Skylar. A percentage of all FOOD (not alcohol ) sales will go to Sky’s fund.

March 22nd – Join us at Soft Rock Cafe (21 & over event) (877 E Franklin St Centerville) 7:30pm – 1:30am for a huge celebration of her short life!  Live music, amazing raffle prizes (and I mean amazing) and a lot of fun!

March 25th – Eat at Buffalo Wild Wings (Bellbrook or Kettering Location) 11am – 11pm and tell them you are eating in honor of Skylar (flyer to print is on the FB event page). This date is her ACTUAL 18th birthday.

SAVE THE DATE:  Sunday August 24th – 5k Run in Bellbrook. “Sky’s the Limit” memorial run. 

 

 

Faith. Hope. Love.

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Faith. Hope. Love.

Skybeach

 

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I miss her beautiful eyes…..just one reason I love this picture of her so much.

I’ve prayed hard the last several days that God would give me words for my blog this week. I can certainly sit here for hours and just talk about Skylar, but I always hope that I leave people with some sort of blessing with my posts, no matter how small.

I have a ritual that I follow most mornings and it includes praying specifically for grieving mothers; especially the ones that I know personally. I find that my life has become a “groundhog day” type of scenario. Wake up, pray for peace and comfort for all who are grieving, pray for myself to get through another day, pray for my children….fight back tears, fight through the pain, fight the anger, fight the questions and  then start all over the next day.  It’s my reality…..and reality for too many of us . I think I’ve read every book I can on grief and loosing a child and although helpful in some aspects, in others they’re empty words.  Like many other things, written with good intentions and many from experience but just out of reach of any real comfort.

I read a quote the other day that I could identify with greatly:

On particularly rough days when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that’s pretty good.

I realize that God will bring comfort and God will bring peace and God will pick me up when I fall, but God will not take away the pain of missing my baby. That’s the reality that is hard to swallow. And then I remember that this world is not suppose to be wonderful. This world is not for us. This world is for Him. God created us for HIS purpose, for HIS eternal plan. Satan has a wonderful way of distracting us from what the truth really is. As many like to say, for believers, this is our dress rehearsal …the final act is our goal.

Does this eliminate my pain of losing Skylar? Does this soften the blow or cease my longing for her? No way!! But what it does is put into perspective my agony and pain. It reminds me to take the focus off of myself and to focus on God’s will and to be a blessing to others. It reminds me that “life isn’t fair” because it is NOT suppose to be!  I can whine and cry all that I want and it’s not going to change the facts….she is gone. Not forever, but yes from this cruel world. I also prepare and remind myself that this probably isn’t my last tragedy in life either…..unfortunately,  we aren’t meant to get too comfortable in this life. God has a bigger and better plan. We are SUPPOSE to look forward to the other side. I realize that now.

I’ve always believed in Heaven, God, Jesus etc. But I’ve also always been terrified of death. That has changed for me. It makes me sad to think about it, knowing that others will be sad when I’m gone (that’s the hardest part to grasp) but I also realize that there is something so much better waiting for us all.

Does this mean I won’t have bad days? No. Does this mean I won’t stumble and fall? No. Does this mean I won’t scream for Skylar when home alone and feel as if the pain will suffocate me? No.   But what it does is give me hope on days when I don’t feel like getting out of bed. It’s a reminder that all is well with the universe because I am not in control, God is.

God is telling me to keep doing what I am doing. Focus on keeping Skylar’s name alive, focus on her foundation, focus on healing the best that I can, focus on my children, focus on my relationships, be a blessing to others……and do all of this in His name and with love.

I will stumble. I will fall. I will fail. But I will get back up and I will carry on.

Just a few verses that touched me today:

  1. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
  2. “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
  3. “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
  4. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18  So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
  5. Mark 5:35-36  While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

A New Normal

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A New Normal

A fellow grieving mother shared this article with me. It touched home and explained my journey so perfectly that I wanted to share it with my readers. I hope you read it and re-read it.

God Bless

__grieving-mother_______________________________________________

A New Normal: Ten Things I’ve Learned About Trauma

 I wasn’t really expecting painful things to happen to me.

Trauma can be an isolating experience. It’s only through relationship that we can be most fully healed. 

I knew that pain was a part of life, but — thanks in part to a peculiar blend of “God-has-a-plan” Southern roots, a suburban “Midwestern nice” upbringing, and a higher education in New England stoicism — I managed to skate by for quite some time without having to experience it.

After a handful of traumas in the last five years, things look different now. Trauma upends everything we took for granted, including things we didn’t know we took for granted. And many of these realities I wish I’d known when I first encountered them. So, while the work of life and healing continues, here are ten things I’ve learned about trauma along the way:

1. Trauma permanently changes us.

This is the big, scary truth about trauma: there is no such thing as “getting over it.” The five stages of grief [7] model marks universal stages in learning to accept loss, but the reality is in fact much bigger: a major life disruption leaves a new normal in its wake. There is no “back to the old me.” You are different now, full stop.

This is not a wholly negative thing. Healing from trauma can also mean finding new strength and joy. The goal of healing is not a papering-over of changes in an effort to preserve or present things as normal. It is to acknowledge and wear your new life — warts, wisdom, and all — with courage.

2.  Presence is always better than distance.

There is a curious illusion that in times of crisis people “need space.” I don’t know where this assumption originated, but in my experience it is almost always false. Trauma is a disfiguring, lonely time even when surrounded in love; to suffer through trauma alone is unbearable. Do not assume others are reaching out, showing up, or covering all the bases.

It is a much lighter burden to say, “Thanks for your love, but please go away,” than to say, “I was hurting and no one cared for me.” If someone says they need space, respect that. Otherwise, err on the side of presence.

3.  Healing is seasonal, not linear.

It is true that healing happens with time. But in the recovery wilderness, emotional healing looks less like a line and more like a wobbly figure-8. It’s perfectly common to get stuck in one stage for months, only to jump to another end entirely … only to find yourself back in the same old mud again next year.

Recovery lasts a long, long time. Expect seasons.

4.  Surviving trauma takes “firefighters” and “builders.” Very few people are both.

This is a tough one. In times of crisis, we want our family, partner, or dearest friends to be everything for us. But surviving trauma requires at least two types of people: the crisis team — those friends who can drop everything and jump into the fray by your side, and the reconstruction crew — those whose calm, steady care will help nudge you out the door into regaining your footing in the world. In my experience, it is extremely rare for any individual to be both a firefighter and a builder. This is one reason why trauma is a lonely experience. Even if you share suffering with others, no one else will be able to fully walk the road with you the whole way.

A hard lesson of trauma is learning to forgive and love your partner, best friend, or family even when they fail at one of these roles. Conversely, one of the deepest joys is finding both kinds of companions beside you on the journey.

5.  Grieving is social, and so is healing.

For as private a pain as trauma is, for all the healing that time and self-work will bring, we are wired for contact. Just as relationships can hurt us most deeply, it is only through relationship that we can be most fully healed.

It’s not easy to know what this looks like — can I trust casual acquaintances with my hurt? If my family is the source of trauma, can they also be the source of healing? How long until this friend walks away? Does communal prayer help or trivialize?

Seeking out shelter in one another requires tremendous courage, but it is a matter of life or paralysis. One way to start is to practice giving shelter to others.

6.  Do not offer platitudes or comparisons. Do not, do not, do not.

“I’m so sorry you lost your son, we lost our dog last year … ” “At least it’s not as bad as … ” “You’ll be stronger when this is over.” “God works in all things for good!”

When a loved one is suffering, we want to comfort them. We offer assurances like the ones above when we don’t know what else to say. But from the inside, these often sting as clueless, careless, or just plain false.

Trauma is terrible. What we need in the aftermath is a friend who can swallow her own discomfort and fear, sit beside us, and just let it be terrible for a while.

7.  Allow those suffering to tell their own stories.

Of course, someone who has suffered trauma may say, “This made me stronger,” or “I’m lucky it’s only (x) and not (z).” That is their prerogative. There is an enormous gulf between having someone else thrust his unsolicited or misapplied silver linings onto you, and discovering hope for one’s self. The story may ultimately sound very much like “God works in all things for good,” but there will be a galaxy of disfigurement and longing and disorientation in that confession. Give the person struggling through trauma the dignity of discovering and owning for himself where, and if, hope endures.

8.  Love shows up in unexpected ways.

This is a mystifying pattern after trauma, particularly for those in broad community: some near-strangers reach out, some close friends fumble to express care. It’s natural for us to weight expressions of love differently: a Hallmark card, while unsatisfying if received from a dear friend, can be deeply touching coming from an old acquaintance.

Ultimately every gesture of love, regardless of the sender, becomes a step along the way to healing. If there are beatitudes for trauma, I’d say the first is, “Blessed are those who give love to anyone in times of hurt, regardless of how recently they’ve talked or awkwardly reconnected or visited cross-country or ignored each other on the metro.” It may not look like what you’d request or expect, but there will be days when surprise love will be the sweetest.

9.  Whatever doesn’t kill you …

In 2011, after a publically humiliating year, comedian Conan O’Brien gave students at Dartmouth College the following warning [8]:

“Nietzsche famously said, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ … What he failed to stress is that it almost kills you.”

Odd things show up after a serious loss and creep into every corner of life: insatiable anxiety in places that used to bring you joy, detachment or frustration towards your closest companions, a deep distrust of love or presence or vulnerability.

There will be days when you feel like a quivering, cowardly shell of yourself, when despair yawns as a terrible chasm, when fear paralyzes any chance for pleasure. This is just a fight that has to be won, over and over and over again.

10.  … Doesn’t kill you.

Living through trauma may teach you resilience. It may help sustain you and others in times of crisis down the road. It may prompt humility. It may make for deeper seasons of joy. It may even make you stronger.

It also may not.

In the end, the hope of life after trauma is simply that you have life after trauma. The days, in their weird and varied richness, go on. So will you.

Catherine Woodiwiss is Associate Web Editor at Sojourners. Find her on Twitter @chwoodiwiss [9].This piece originally appeared in Catapult magazine’s January issue, Ten Things [10].

My Dearest Sky-Bird

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My Dearest Sky-Bird

skymeredsgame

 

Baby girl where do I even begin? It has been quite some time since I’ve written an open letter to you. I have been relatively quiet on here for the last several weeks; mainly trying to get through the holidays and the heartache that now accompanies this time of year. I haven’t had anything very positive to share, therefore I have kept quiet.

So many told me that year 2 would be harder than year 1, I have to say I agree with them at this point. The numbness and shock have waned and the constant physical support has slowed. Of course everyone must return to and manage their own busy lives, that is expected. Nonetheless, sometimes the silence is oh so deafening. I simply long to hear laughter coming from your room again, I want to try to enter only to find the door locked, finally entering only to find clothes strewn all about and before I can even tell you to clean it up you’re already telling me not to touch anything, you will handle it.

Sometimes visiting your room is impossible for me. I open your door and instantly emotions flood over me and if I know i don’t have time to “fall apart” I have to close your door and save it for another time. I’m sure you’ve witnessed me doing this. It’s so hard Sky to sit in there and not hear you, feel you, smell you and then to long for you. I go in there and I touch your things and look through your drawers and I scream at God; silently if others are home and out loud if I am alone.

I love when I feel you near me, please don’t ever stop doing whatever it is that you do.  As I lay in bed last night yearning for you and trying so hard to stop my tears I felt an amazing warmth and tingle fall over my entire body and I knew instantly that it was you. I felt you and I needed you at that very moment. Thank you.  And don’t think I didn’t notice the email that arrived in my junk box (spam of course) at that very time from Sky.com ……. I know that was you too.

Everyone tells me and reminds me how you are always with me, and I am certain that you are…but it’s not the same and it certainly doesn’t fill the void of your earthly presence, dear God I wish it did. Nothing will fill that void and agony of not being able to experience and share this life with you. I, we, you, have been robbed of HS graduation, college, marriage, motherhood…..my selfish heart breaks for all that I am missing with you. I can only hear so many times that you are in a better place and that I will see you again someday. I know I will baby, just not soon enough.

I look at pictures of you every single day, sometimes for longer than is probably healthy and I reminisce and often times I cry. Just yesterday I looked at a card I gave you for your 16th birthday. You had it proudly displayed on a shelf in your room. I had forgotten what I wrote inside and when I read it,  it brought me to my knees. The card itself was about you growing up too quickly and how I was savoring every moment with you because before too long you would be a woman and out on your own. Inside the card I told you how proud I was of you and that I would always be there for you. Little did I know it would be the last birthday card I ever gave to you and that I would never get to see you grow into the beautiful, independent woman who I knew you would be.

It’s still so surreal Sky …… I can hear all of your voices. I can see you and Sophie sleeping until all hours of the day in your room and then rushing around later, leaving the bathroom in a wreck, and then running out the door. I can hear Jules and Lexy behind her locked door, planning God knows what. I would give anything for just one more day like those.

I hate the path that God has placed me on…..I accept it and I trust Him, but I HATE it. I don’t know who I am anymore. Trying to have some semblance of normalcy is exhausting at times. I hate life without you and I hate imagining the rest of my life here without you. And beyond that, after I am long gone, my poor Lexy won’t have you by her side. She’s suppose to have you for the long haul…….I don’t understand…..these thoughts and the reality of them leave me broken inside. They leave me with just a fraction of myself.

I guess the most healing thing for me is to continually talk about you. Whether is be via my blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, casual conversation or the like…..I NEED to talk about you and I NEED others to remember you and to talk about you. I know your memory will fade for others and that breaks me. At times I even struggle to hear your voice and I am forced to play a video clip just so I can be reminded. I find myself looking at Lexy’s hands and toes because they look so much like yours. Who would have thought that appendages would become so important to me?

“I miss you” goes without saying and besides, those 3 words seem so tiny and weak in comparison to how I truly feel.  My heart bleeds and breaks without your existence and my life will never be full again. Yes, I will go on and I will continue to be the very best that I can be for your 3 siblings, but even they know that I am no longer who I once was…..how could I ever be? The life I once knew is no more and ceased to exist the moment the coroner arrived at my door. It’s like learning to live again. Learning to live with the weight of  grief on my shoulders. And yes, grief has a physical weight and boy is it heavy.

Sky, I am so very thankful that I never waited to tell you how much I love you and how proud I am of you….Thank you God for forming me into a loving mother that knows the value of her children. Although far from perfect and never without mistakes, I know you left this earthly world knowing how much you meant to me and so many others.

I am selfish and I ask that you stay close to me, your dad, your siblings and all of those that love and miss you so very, very much. Let us feel your presence and always know that you are near.  I know you are safe and happy and I thank God every day for that knowledge but we all still need you so very much.

It’s not goodbye, it’s until I see you again.

I love you more sweet baby girl

Mom –

Home

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Home

SKMBT_C552D13121710290

 

August 2001, Skylar (5 yrs old) and I went to the mall for a pair of jeans. We were easily sidetracked into the local pet store. Skylar asked if we could get one of the puppies out to hold and I of course said yes!  We chose a cute little 3 lb, 3 month old male chihuahua named Otis. We sat there holding him and playing with him and we fell in love. Sky said “mom you think we could get him?!” I looked at his price tag …$900 and I gasped ….um no! Of course the sales lady was listening and she began to explain their financing plan. $45/mo for about 2 years and I could return him after 48 hours if my husband was mad…ha!  SOLD!!  (I do not recommend buying any cat or dog from a pet store, but I’m so glad we bought him!)

After some paperwork, Skylar and I walked out of the mall grinning from ear to ear and me telling her “I hope dad doesn’t kill me!”  We came home and surprised 3-year-old Lexy and almost 1-year-old Caden…both beyond excited to have a puppy! Our first dog!  We aptly renamed him “Spike”…. (paying homage to Rugrats!).

cadenspike

 

We eventually gave Spike 3 more dogs to play with (ha! can you tell we love animals?) Spike of course always remained our “first family dog” and was often called Fat Boy or Pot Belly Pig because of his large gut!  We loved him all the same and he was always special to Sky and me…our little indulgence that day at the mall all those years ago.

This past Sunday morning we found Spike forever asleep…..no doubt already sitting at Sky’s feet begging for a belly rub. Losing a family pet is so heart breaking. For many people (esp. those without children) their pets ARE their children and very much a part of the family. Having lost Sky, obviously this pain doesn’t even touch on the same level, however it’s pain all the same. I felt so sad for my kids who have barely known a day without Spike and for me….I cried for me. It was like one more piece of Skylar was gone.

I started thinking with the passing of Spike, how slowly things will start to disappear that Skylar “touched” or had a part of. Eventually years from now it will be things like a new car that she’s never been in, another family trip that she isn’t a part of, a new technology that she will never know, a girlfriend of Caden’s that she will never meet, nieces and nephews that she’ll never get to hold….the list goes on and on. That for me is the hardest part in all of this… not necessarily what Skylar is missing but what others are missing that never get a chance to know the beautiful person that she is.

I think for many of us who grieve a loved one (esp. a child) we hold on to the pain for so long because it’s all we have….at least we feel it’s all we have…in order to feel close to them. Without the pain and tears every day, who am I? And where is Skylar? I know I feel if I am “okay” then it gives others the permission to forget her….to move on. Two things…..I’ll never be ok and I know those who love her will NEVER forget her……but convincing your grieving mind of that daily, isn’t always so easy.

All of this reflecting, just from the passing of our beloved Spikey. We know animals don’t live nearly long enough but we always hope and pray ours are the exception. For us, dealing with a death of someone we love (even if it is just an animal) so soon after losing Sky, seemed like 3 steps back.

But then I’m reminded all around me, that of course death IS a part of life….there’s simply no way around it.  Sky just beat us to it. She IS home.

I refer to this verse often when I am feeling so completely discouraged about Sky……

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
____________________________________________________

I love you more baby girl.

Triggers

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Triggers

Heaven

 

It wasn’t until recently that I truly recognized “triggers” in my daily life…..things, events, words, smells , songs, memories….that initiate feelings and reactions in me.  These triggers are without warning and virtually impossible to predict or control.

Last week while talking to a stranger about Christmas and the money strains on so many of us at this time of year; without even thinking I responded with “oh I know I buy gifts for 4 kids…money is definitely tight.”  It took a few seconds for it to hit me and to realize no, I don’t have 4 kids that I buy for anymore…and from there the chain reaction started. Memories and thoughts flooded over me and my walls went up. I feel sorry for anyone that is around me when these triggers occur because containing my emotions and often times my frustration and anger is virtually impossible. I sat there thinking….and just like that my world stopped. I started to retreat into myself and could feel my heart racing. Images from the previous year filled my head and all I could think about was the morning of November 4, 2012. I thought about the calls I had to make…..to Skylar’s dad…..having to tell him on the phone that our baby was gone….to Sky’s boyfriend, who I know couldn’t even comprehend what I was telling him so early on a Sunday morning….to my precious Lexy, trying not to lose my mind while I told her that her sister, her best friend and her surrogate “big sis” were all gone…..and to my precious baby Ashton…telling a 9 year old that his sister is now with Jesus. (not to leave Caden out, he unfortunately heard all of this from the top step, as he heard the knock at the door that fateful morning) All from this one trigger…..the emotions were drowning me….my own sorrow suffocating me.

I am certain that many of you reading this have triggers of your own…..and for that my heart breaks for you. More times than not, I am so overwhelmed with this excruciating never-ending pain that I truly become discouraged. Any pain or heart-break that I have ever experienced in life has had a light at the end of the tunnel…even if it was a small and weak light…it was there and I could count on it to become brighter and brighter and for the pain to become less and less. When faced with the death of a child there is no ending….until death for me itself; some days that is a hard pill to swallow. 20 years could pass and many of you may think the pain lessons for us…..I feel like each day I actually miss her more and more, as if that is even possible.  I pray this holiday season that God holds all of us grieving mothers (and fathers, grandparents, siblings etc) just a little tighter and brings a peace over us that is unfathomable to our broken hearts.

The picture above is from the other evening on my way home…..it nearly took my breath away when I looked up and saw the parting in the clouds. I told Ashton to grab my phone and take a picture and I said to him ” I bet that’s how the sky looked when God took the girls home…..”

I’ll leave you with a story that was shared with me the other day and I posted it to my FB (sorry for the redundancy). It has nothing to do with triggers but everything to do with forgiveness.

I love you Skylar and I’m working hard to make you proud…… love mommy.

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In the aftermath of apartheid’s collapse in South Africa, in 1994, the new government under Nelson Mandela established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission whose task it was to investigate specific acts of brutality committed in the name of apartheid and to seek some measure of resolution that would enable the country to move forward.

At one meeting early in their work, the Commission gathered to reach a verdict on a particularly painful case involving an elderly South African woman. At the hearing, a group of white police officers, led by a Mr. Van de Broek admitted their personal responsibility in the death of her 18-year-old son. They acknowledged shooting the young man at point blank range, setting his body on fire, and then partying around the fire until the body had been reduced to little more than ashes.

Eight years later, Van de Broek and his fellow officers had again intersected with the woman’s life, this time to take her husband into captivity. And then, some time later, Van de Broek had come knocking at her door once more. Rousing her from bed in the dead of night, he brought the woman to an isolated setting by a river where her husband lay tied to a pile of wood. As she watched, he and the officers doused the man with gasoline and then ignited a fire. The last words her husband spoke to her, in the midst of the blazing pyre, were, “Forgive them.”

Now at long last the time had come for justice to be served. Those involved had confessed their guilt, and the Commission turned to the woman for a final statement regarding her desire for an appropriate punishment.

“I want three things,” the woman said calmly. “I want Mr. Van de Broek to take me to the place where they burned my husband’s body. I would like to gather up the dust and give him a decent burial.

“Second, Mr. Van de Broek took all my family away from me, so I still have a lot of love to give. Twice a month, I would like for him to come to the slums and spend a day with me so I can be a mother to him.”

“Third, I would like Mr. Van de Broek to know that he is forgiven by God, and that I forgive him, too. And, I would like someone to come and lead me by the hand to where Mr. Van de Broek is so that I can embrace him and he can know my forgiveness is real.”

As the elderly woman made her way across the silent courtroom, Van de Broek reportedly fainted, overcome by emotion. And then the silence was broken when someone began singing, “Amazing Grace.” Others soon picked up the words of the familiar hymn, so that finally the entire audience in the courtroom was joined in song….

 

My Heart and Soul

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My Heart and Soul

Merry Christmas - Go Bucks

 

They say there are 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance…..with of course the depression stage lasting the longest. Certainly not a list that is hard to figure out or even shocking. However, when talking in terms of losing your child….your perfect beautiful child who had her entire life in front of her, I think we need to add another stage, a stage that never ends…. at least not that I can imagine. A stage that is so incomprehensible that you can not even put its true meaning into words. I think it falls with depression and again after acceptance….and that is Broken…… I’ve certainly said it on here a thousand times but until you LIVE this hell the term “broken” does not even equate to what you grew up thinking the word meant. It is the dictionary meaning of broken times infinity ……that’s how I feel….that’s how too many parents who have lost their children feel….a pain without explanation….. a 24 hour, 7 days a week pain ….. a pain we fight to not show too often. A pain we have no choice but to live with. A pain that changes who we are, forever. A pain with no remedy, no vaccine, no magic healing words…..it just IS.

I write about this today not because this is news to any of you…especially not to those of you who read my blog and have too buried your heart……but more as a reminder to others of just how real and raw this pain is.  Every day without Skylar hurts but of course coming fresh off the 1 year anniversary and heading right into Thanksgiving and Christmas is just a double whammy. The holidays were always Sky’s favorite… it meant FOOD and GIFTS — what kid doesn’t love that?!! And of course it entails family time and gatherings and reminiscing and there is a huge void for all of this during this season.

I can type all of this out and you may even shake your heads and believe that you understand, but trust me, you don’t… and THANK GOD that you don’t. Remember as you are complaining about holiday shopping, annoyed with family members, or fed up with your kids during Christmas Break……there are too many of us that have to get up and visit our babies in a cemetery on Christmas morning. We can’t buy gifts for our angels and we can’t kiss them goodnight or even wish them a Happy New Year…… we are broken. Forever stuck in a stage of grief with no ending; at least not on this earth.

I hope you all have a blessed Christmas and that we all remember and recognize the true meaning of this holiday season.

Hug Your Babies.

1 year and 1 month too long without you 3 …. I love and miss you…..more.

picture-68

If Today Was Your Last Day

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If Today Was Your Last Day

SKYLARmyangel

 

I received a piece of mail for Skylar yesterday and at first didn’t think a whole lot about it, until I opened it. Here is how the first line read:

Dear Skylar L. Kooken, 

Life after high school. It’s approaching fast. And the burning question is: Where will you be this time next year?

Yea, this one stung quite a bit. I know I have written on this before but receiving this mail reminded me YET AGAIN that nothing is guaranteed in this life, except death. NONE of us expected to be sitting here, missing 3 beautiful girls…..even with the death of a child being my biggest fear in life, I still wasn’t prepared and honestly a year later and I am STILL in disbelief of my reality.

I continually see and hear of so much pettiness going on around me and all I can do is shake my head. So many of us are wasting time; minutes, hours, days and even years on things that do not matter in the end…..just simply don’t matter.

I hope it doesn’t take tragedy and heart-break like we have experienced for the majority to WAKE UP ….. but I’m afraid it will, for many at least.  Maybe my story and Skylar’s life can help just a few to see life for what it is for………Living. Living and loving while you can, while it’s in front of you. Living for now,and not in regret when it’s too late.

As I was getting ready this morning Nickelback came on my iPod (save the remarks, I actually like them) …. and the song hit me hard. Not sure I have even heard it since the accident.

“If Today Was Your Last Day”

My best friend gave me the best advice
He said each day’s a gift and not a given right
Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less traveled by
That first step you take is the longest stride

If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have?
If today was your last day

Against the grain should be a way of life
What’s worth the prize is always worth the fight
Every second counts ’cause there’s no second try
So live like you’ll never live it twice
Don’t take the free ride in your own life

Would you call old friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories
Would you forgive your enemies?
Would you find that one you’re dreamin’ of?
Swear up and down to God above
That you finally fall in love
If today was your last day

If today was your last day
Would you make your mark by mending a broken heart?
You know it’s never too late to shoot for the stars
Regardless of who you are
So do whatever it takes
‘Cause you can’t rewind a moment in this life
Let nothin’ stand in your way
Cause the hands of time are never on your side

I think it’s helpful to have daily reminders that we only get one shot. Unfortunately for our families the absence of 3 beautiful souls is our daily painful reminder.
James 4:14 -Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
On another note I would like to give hope to those of you that are struggling with the loss of a loved one; if you haven’t felt them with you yet, be patient, have faith and open your heart and soul, and they will come to you. I have felt Skylar so many times and most recently on the morning of my birthday just 2 days ago. It seems mornings are my quiet alone time that I have found I speak most often to Sky, and as I sat there on my birthday thinking about her, a warm presence washed over me. I closed my eyes and I heard Sky say “mom, I’m here and I’m going to give you a hug”  Wow – my entire body became warm and tingly and I felt her arms wrap around me and I cried like a baby. I didn’t ever want to open my eyes again and I certainly didn’t want to move or for the moment to end.  So extremely bittersweet.
I would give ANYTHING for one more moment with my baby girl…… and yet I see tattered relationships everywhere between children and parents, husbands and wives, siblings, partners, friends…you name it.
All I have now are the memories and her legacy and I’ll be damned if anyone will take any of that from us.
This Sunday November 24th at Bellbrook High School there is an Angel Run/Walk (2 miles). For just $10 you can help support Skylar’s Scholarship Fund. 1:15 registration. 2pm walk/run.  If you are unable to attend but would still like to donate you can do so via PayPal:

372 Days Without You

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372 Days Without You

kidsandme

 

By the grace of God I have survived the first year without my oldest baby. A year filled with valleys like I have never known, a year filled with enough tears to fill an ocean, a year filled with enough questions and anger to last a lifetime, a year filled with loneliness and sadness and heart-break but also a year filled with faith, hope, love, and forgiveness.

I have spent the last several days thinking about not only the day of the accident but all those exhausting days following. The non stop planning and organizing of a viewing and funeral. Sifting through 16 plus years of photos, choosing her casket and vault and making the decision on her final resting place.  You find yourself in such a whirlwind that you can hardly stop to grieve, or at least grieve fully and properly.

Eventually the silence comes and that is when the pain and reality crushes you like a ton of bricks. It’s almost like the last year was all about the anticipation leading up to this one date….the 1 year anniversary. And now here we are 1 year plus 7 days…..all of us still trying to survive this cruel world without them. All the while their voices and touch and physical presence slips further from our grasp.

I read a lot of other grieving mother’s blogs and the sad reality is that we are all living out the same hellish reality. A reality with no real comfort or peace. A reality of trying to live with half a heart and what is left of it is damaged and broken.

Then God sends a reminder. As He often does, when I least expect it, but when I need it most. While driving to work today Carrie Underwood’s song came on the radio… ” I Will See You Again” and of course the tears started and wouldn’t stop. I was once again reminded that although I am not okay, Skylar is. And as a mother that is all that matters to me. It’s one of those things that as a believer it sometimes gets pushed to the back of my mind and I get wrapped up in my own pain and sadness and that of her family and friends. But then,  God gently reminds me that although our pain is enormous and more often than not, debilitating……Sky’s pain is non-existent.  Sky knows a happiness and peacefulness that we can only remotely fathom.

And with these beliefs and my faith I am able to survive another day without her. It doesn’t make it painless or even okay but it makes surviving this hell of a reality possible.

Thank you God for your promises to us and for giving your believers eternal life and the promise of seeing my baby again.

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John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die”

2 Corinthians 5:8  Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

________________________________________________________________

THANK YOU to everyone for the continued prayers and words of encouragement, nothing goes unnoticed.

There are a few funny videos of Skylar on my YouTube channel; I invite you to watch them.

http://www.youtube.com/user/1239kelli

 

 

I Will Remember ……..

25 comments

I Will Remember ……..

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It seemed fitting to post my text with Skylar from one year ago today….this pretty much sums us up, anything goes. (and yes, I called her out and let her go home….of course, she held my heart in her hands, always).

___________________________________________________________________

I was hoping that my anger had subsided, I was wrong. I looked through my phone and saw this text exchange and rage seemed to form inside of me. Why? Why? Why?  One year ago at this exact moment my world was complete….Sky was home “pooping in private” (and no doubt laying on the couch, renting a movie and eating mac n’ cheese). I hadn’t yet had to answer that fateful 4;30 am call and knock at the door ….I had yet to be haunted by images, by reality and by death.  I was warned that these days leading up to the anniversary would be difficult but I didn’t quite believe it. I mean in reality how could anything get any harder regarding all of this?

There has been a lot of reflecting these last several days and I’m in shock that a year has already nearly passed without the 3 of them here with all of us. My home went from a revolving door of friends and family to a very quiet home….Sky’s room sits empty too many days and it breaks my heart to walk by and see no activity, no disturbance of her things.  I find myself getting angry….angry that others get to move forward. I get angry when I hear so many people complaining about insignificant things in life…….I could only pray and beg that we had little things to sweat. I’d give anything, anything at all to have something else to complain about.

The tragic and sudden death of a child will put everything quickly into perspective. And I mean everything.

I wish I could write an inspiring and uplifting blog today….but the truth is I’m feeling so down, so angry, so lost, so sad, so broken, so damaged, and so overwhelmed with grief without Skylar….. I wanted to write something today so that she is on everyone’s mind….that’s the greatest comfort I can find these days.

These next several days are going to be hell for all of us…as if we weren’t already living out our hell on earth. I know for me I will be sitting with my baby at 12:40am Monday morning knowing that one year ago at that moment she left us for her forever home. I know that at 4:30am on Monday I will be reliving that tragic morning, I know at 8am I will relive when it hit the media and the calls started rushing in. I know that the days following I will remember the numbness of meeting with our amazing funeral director…..and the moment that I had to pick out Skylar’s very last outfit…..I will be remembering the last moment I shared with her alone in the basement of the funeral home; smelling my angels hair and tracing the bruises on her beautiful face. I’ll be remembering the moment I walked into the church for her and Sophie’s dual viewing and seeing the 2 of them up on the stage like the angels that they are…..hundreds of flowers surrounding them both. I will remember the 8 hours I stood on that stage next to her — not one time ever leaving her side in all of those hours. I will remember all of the tears shed and the hundreds and hundreds of people who wept at her side. I will remember all of the items placed in her casket with her from so many that loved her.  I will remember leaving the church that evening and knowing that I would only get to see her one more time before her earthy body is taken from me forever…..   I will remember the beautiful service the next day and spending my last few moments alone with her before they closed her casket for good….having to be pulled away…not wanting anyone else to share in that moment with me… I wanted to touch her hair forever and not let go of her hand. I will remember watching my brothers and Sky’s uncles carry her body out of that church and load her into the back of the limousine. I will remember that drive to the cemetery and seeing her and Sophie side by side and Jules just a few feet away.

I will remember when my world went silent……………

But I assure you I will also remember every moment that I shared with Sky. I will let my mind, body and soul relive this last year as part of my healing and then I will pray to my God to comfort me, wrap me in peace and help me focus on all that I shared with her; and I pray that for all who loved Sky, Soph and Jules.  I pray that we focus on all of our memories and live the rest of our days in honor of them.

Thank you for your continued prayers and kind words, they never go unnoticed.

Monday November 4, 2013 at 5:15-ish pm we will gather at Bellbrook Cemetery in honor of our girls. Any and all are invited. 

I love you more Skylar, Sophie & Julianna…………

Love One Another

8 comments

Love One Another

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It’s amazing the roller coaster of emotions I have been on for the past 11 plus months and the past 5 days have been no exception. Just when I think I have dealt with enough cruel and insensitive people, more seem to surface.

I’m not really sure what part of  ” I lost my daughter tragically and suddenly” doesn’t get any of us maybe just an ounce of grace and softness from others…..I said it early on, we all deserve to treated with love and respect, but those of us in deep suffering and grief should really be handled with care…..ha! jokes on us …. constant reminder that we live in a cruel and selfish world ….very, very selfish.  Thank GOD we don’t have to spend eternity here!

I struggled for the last few days with writing something or not……as many of you know we not only buried our beautiful girls that were full of life, but we have had to do so publically and in the constant spotlight of the media. Can I remind you all one more time that the media is not fact…often times they get it wrong, include opinion and assumption, inflate the facts or simply just make things up…….just because you read it or hear it, truth it does NOT make…..might be a good lesson to put in your pocket.

I have always, unfortunately, been someone who cares what others think of them. I’ve gotten much better over the years, but I’m a sensitive and loving person and I allow others words and actions to hurt me, more than I should. I simply hate when others “get it wrong” — I know who I am and what I stand for but others often times draw conclusions or assumptions because I am not very private  (hence the blog) ….. but I am very honest and what you see is what you get.  I of course have also always cared what others thought of my amazing kids. Now so with this media circus surrounding us I feel I am constantly having to explain over and over the events of November 4, 2012…. because our girls can’t defend themselves. But let me tell you I’m exhausted.  At the end of the day most everyone’s speculations are wrong and often times very cruel.  Just remember these were 3 girls loved very, very much by their family and friends. They could be any one of your daughters. If you think otherwise you are a fool.

I’m trying very hard to do what I promised myself early on that I would do, and that is focus on Skylar’s life and not her death.  She’s gone, that’s a fact that can NEVER be changed, NO MATTER WHAT…… it’s why I have chosen to forgive and attempt at salvaging what is left of my mangled heart and focus on my 3 beautiful children that are living. I should never be ridiculed or attacked or judged for my forgiving heart …. I am surviving THE ONLY WAY I know how.

I was driving to work this morning and an over bearing sense of weight seemed to land on my shoulders. I started to think about the night of the accident and all of the horrific details that followed and I instantly felt a panic attack coming on and images raced through my mind and I felt my face getting flushed and my heart racing…..I prayed hard and said out loud NO NO NO!!!!!    Yes, the reality is that my baby died tragically and I am FOREVER changed not for just the loss of her but the actual events, images and facts…..I’ve aged a hundred years in 11 mos….but I also know that I have 16 1/2 years of memories of Sky that are amazing!!!  We had an incredible relationship and we shared a million laughs…..I made myself focus on that. And I suddenly sensed her presence, could feel her touch and could hear her laugh.

I’ll remind you all until I have no breath left in me…this journey is long, lonely, painful, sad, debilitating, exhausting, life changing and so many other adjectives that also don’t define it adequately enough.  It’s real, it’s raw and frankly IT SUCKS!!!!

I pray my words reach others and perhaps you can be a little more kind to others, a little less judgmental, a little more understanding and a lot more loving. We could all use it and benefit from it.  This cruel world is hard enough.

1 John 4:7-10

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

John 13:34

Love one another. As I have loved you.

I miss and love all 3 of you so much…..stay close to us girls…we need you now more than ever. Love you more ~

 

Below is a link to donate to Sky’s Scholarship Fund.

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_donations&business=kkooken%40thegreene%2ecom&lc=US&item_name=Skylar%20Kooken%20Memorial%20Scholarship%20Fund&item_number=032596&currency_code=USD&bn=PP%2dDonationsBF%3abtn_donateCC_LG%2egif%3aNonHosted

 

3 Little Birds for Company

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3 Little Birds for Company

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Wow……11 mos has come and gone. I’m on the home stretch to 1 year……..a time where the shock has worn off and the pain is more raw and real than ever before.

Above is a bench at our local park for these angels…it was just put in this week and we will host a bench dedication in just a few weeks. There is wonderful community of women who have made this possible and my heart swells with gratefulness for all they have done for 3 angels that they never knew. Heaven holds a special place for people like this.

I visited the bench the day it was set, and as I approached, my heart-felt like it weighed 100 lbs, I instantly felt drained and my emotions poured out. Seeing just one more reminder of lives cut too short. I knelt down and traced my baby’s name and death date on that plaque and I sobbed. I sat on the bench and I looked up to the heavens and once again pleaded with God for answers, for peace, for understanding, for comfort, for strength………….. and in the moment I was reminded that God won’t make it easy for the long haul but He WILL comfort me in the moment, and He did. My tears stopped, my heart beat slowed and above me 3 birds circled. Now, I know birds like to fly together but there isn’t a time that I  see 3 birds and don’t think of Sky, Soph and Jules.   I was at the cemetery for a long time the other day and for several minutes 4 hawks circled above their graves and through my tears I smiled and actually said out loud “looky there, you 3 made a friend……”

Matthew 5:4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

I wanted desperately to write something on October 4th ….. the 11 month mark …..something that would convey and express my pain, but words failed me…sometimes the pain is just too big to explain.

I have a photo of the girls on my desk….I look at it all day long; sometimes I cry, sometimes I stare deep in thought and sometimes I smile. I cry for my pain, for every single person’s pain that knew and loved these girls, for 3 lives taken way before their time, for memories I will never get to create, for dreams left unfilled, for the emptiness in my heart and soul.  I stare in deep thought and remember….. nearly 17 years of memories with Sky and years of memories of Soph and Jules and I reflect and I let myself feel whatever it is I need to feel. I smile…..I smile for all the lives they have impacted and touched, for all the memories they left with their friends and loved ones. I smile because I can feel Sky’s arms around me and I can hear her telling me that she loves me. I smile because lives have been changed through this tragedy….I smile because these 3 angels have saved others and will continue to do so. I smile because people care and God has shown me that life isn’t fair and he has harshly reminded me that this is not our forever home…do not get comfortable…do not invest in more than you need or more than you have………

So as we are quickly approaching 1 year without Sky, Soph, & Jules….I continually remind myself (through the pain and tears) it’s one year closer to my time with them….in the meantime make it count Kelli, make your angel proud, make your 3 other babies proud, make God proud.  That’s the best I can do and hope for………

And we know God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

 

A Grieving Mother

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A Grieving Mother

 

MyReality

I honestly don’t even know where my head is today. I have so much going on inside this brain of mine that it’s likely to explode at any moment. I spent some time earlier this week holding my baby’s clothes from the night of the accident….therapeutic for me at times. Yes, I’d rather feel pain than nothing at all (thank you 3 Days Grace for that one).  So I took a photo and just sat and meditated on the fact that this IS the last outfit she will EVER pick out on this earth…I’ve said it before…but the REALITY of it is overwhelming. I want you all to just sit on that and think….for all you young drivers who read my blog…for all of you adults that think you’re invincible and above death or for any of you that just don’t think this could happen to you or your family…..I beg you to look at my image above because that is MY reality and unfortunately the reality for way too many of us.

I have thought a lot over the last several weeks how death has changed me. It’s inevitable yes, you don’t go through a tragedy of this magnitude and not come out unscathed…damaged….beaten down…broken. I’ve prayed and prayed for this not to ruin me but yet I continue to see things around me crumble to the ground. It’s impossible to have your heart ripped from your chest and then not question everything and everyone around you….so afraid of more hurt on top of the huge gaping wound.

I have read through so many websites and blogs and even books and I have seen how other mothers JUST LIKE ME are surviving and I want to smack myself silly. Get up Kel — quit complaining, others have survived this!!!!  Where is that gosh darn manual that I was suppose to have been given the day I had to bury my baby!??  Where is it!?!?!?

In talking with other grieving mothers I know we all feel so alone ……. maybe not literally speaking but emotionally we feel alone. Everyone’s journey is different as we’ve all heard time and time again. It’s not like a college class….you can have a study buddy and a motivator……no for us, our tests and learning all come on different days. Hence, the feeling of being all alone. Left out here to figure it all out along the way. I pray for peace and I feel it, I do. But I also know that God himself can’t even take this away…..not unless he presented Skylar before me as I type….this will NOT end until the day we are reunited. Yes, THAT is a comforting thought but for a mother it is NOT soon enough!!!! So what do we do in the meantime? We wait! We cry! We scream! We question! We pray! We vent! We lean on others! And some days we lose our minds from all the chaos inside of it.

So what does a grieving mother need? Patience ….LOTS of patience. Love. Prayers. Hugs. Smiles. A Gentle Touch. Faithful Friends. Did I mention Love?

“Love would never leave us alone”  
―     Bob Marley

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

 

 

Extra Time

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Extra Time

 

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When Skylar was 2 1/2 years old she complained for a few days of severe stomach pain. As a small child it was hard to tell if she was constipated, ate something bad or just simply had a stomach virus. After a few days we decided it had to be more than a virus, maybe it was her appendix.

Matt and I spent about 15 hours at Columbus Children’s ER while they tried desperately to figure out why she was in pain. After several failed attempts of getting an ultra sound on her appendix (stubborn girl had a full bladder and they couldn’t view her appendix properly) it was finally decided to give her a CT scan so they could see what they needed to.

Matt and I waited as patiently as we could…at 22 and 23 years old and sitting in a room with a 7 month old we were desperate for the news to be simple and correctable.  Before long a doctor we had not seen before walked into the room and told us he had good news and bad news. The good news: it wasn’t her appendix. The bad news: it was her heart.  Her pericardium to be exact. This man was a pediatric cardiologist ….that was the fist time my world went silent.

We were informed that Sky would need surgery fairly quickly. She had pericarditis (inflammation of her pericardium) and it was restricting blood flow to her heart and causing her stomach pain. It didn’t take long for me to realize and THANK GOD that Skylar was being stubborn with her ultra sound and refusal to empty her bladder….otherwise a CT scan never would have been ordered and this heart issue would not have been detected until it was too late. Her cardiologist was quick to realize and voice this as well…he said “God was looking out for your little girl.”

Surgery went well and more than 700 cc’s of fluid were removed from around our little girls tiny body. After a few nights in ICU and some steroid therapy and a few years of regular cardiology check ups, Sky was given a clean bill of health. All she had to show from this experience was a 3-4 inch scar in the center of her chest (of course she hated this as she matured). That story is something I told over and over to people that ever doubted God’s helping hand and Sky and I talked about it many times over the years. Without that wonderful cardiologist who ordered that CT Scan, modern medical technology, a stubborn 2 year old that just wouldn’t “go” and a God that loved her more than even I … Sky would have left us at age 2 1/2.

I tell that story because just hours and maybe even moments after those police officers and coroners left my home the morning of the accident I cried out to God and asked WHYYYYYYYYY?!!!  Why did you save her 14  years ago only to take her from me now!???

Boy was I angry. Why would he “tease me” with 14 more years of memories? I’ve thought about that a lot over the last 10 months and of course things are more clear to me now then they were 10 mos ago at 4am when being told that your first-born child is no longer alive. I still don’t have all the answers that I want but I know I certainly wouldn’t trade my 14 extra precious years with her or the lesson that I learned through that experience knowing that God had her in His hands back then…..and still today.  We were all given the gift of Skylar because she changed so many people in her short time on this earth…she certainly changed her mama.

In life she taught us to live, love and laugh. She taught us that not everyone is a good friend but she was an AMAZING one. She taught me that at her young age she gave  some of the best advice and she was always willing to listen  to me vent. She also taught me that a young girl can go through a TON of Q-tips, tampons, toilet paper, make-up, body wash, borrowed cash and chapstick!

In her death Sky taught us all to live a little better, to love a little harder and to appreciate your time here while you can.

I miss my baby girl with every fiber of my being and I spend hours and hours of my day thinking about her and looking at her pictures. Thank you God for giving me 16 1/2 years of time and memories with my angel…it wasn’t nearly enough, but I am counting down my days until I am with her forever. Stay close to me Sky, I need you.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

Seasons

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Seasons

 

Sky&Soph

I could literally look at photos and videos of the girls all day long…. these images above of Sky & Soph warm my heart; this was them in all their innocence and glory…best buds out to make you laugh and smile.

September 4, 2013…….10 LONG months without the presence of 3 beautiful girls; 10 long months without a huge chunk of my soul; 10 months of agony; 10 months of pain; 10 months learning how to survive; 10 months too long.

It’s not that every single day without them isn’t a reminder itself but certainly the 4th of every month is the day that I really feel I can reach out to every one and ask them to remember and to pray and to reminisce. That dreadful 4th….where if I count back just far enough everything was exactly as it should be, my world was complete, my heart had yet to be shattered, 3 angels were still among us.

I had a rough Labor Day as I reflected over the last almost 10 months and realized that another season had come and gone without Skylar by our side. I started thinking of my life left here as seasons and how many more seasons until I get to see my baby again…how many more seasons until I feel just a semblance of myself again…how many more seasons until I can breathe without pain…how many more seasons…….?

With every season that passes it is that much further from the last time I hugged her…that much further from everyone’s memories of her……

I’m afraid for everyone else’s pain to subside and for their hurt to lessen…. if it doesn’t hurt does that mean they have forgotten them?  Oh, the worries of a broken momma.

I know that my baby’s death is not the end of her existence but rather the beginning of her eternal life. I also know that this tragedy and their deaths does not define their legacy on this earth….these angels were so much more than their tragic accident. I will fight for as long as I have in me to remind others of this.

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“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, put me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” A.A. Milne

“Do not judge the bereaved mother. She comes in many forms. She is breathing, but she is dying. She may look young, but inside she has become ancient. She smiles, but her heart sobs. She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she IS, but she IS NOT, all at once. She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity.”

A Quote from Skylar’s Favorite Movie: The Notebook: “In times of sorrow I will hold you and rock you and take your grief and make it my own. When you cry I cry and when you hurt I hurt. And together we will try to hold back the floods of tears and despair and make it through the potholed streets of life.”

“Grief can be a burden, but also an anchor. You get used to the weight, how it holds you in place.” Sarah Dessen

“And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me. Shine until tomorrow, let it be.” – The Beatles

I Love You More sweet Sky, Soph & Jules  XOXO

 

Lessons

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Lessons

Sky&Lex

Whoa what an emotional week I have had.  Wednesday was the first day of school for my kids and what SHOULD have been Skylar’s first day of her Senior year….ahhh the year she’d been dreaming of for so long.  I have been waking Sky up and sending her off to start a new school year since she started Pre-School at age 3 …… there are NOT even words to express how low and sad I felt on Wednesday …. I had to sit in her room for a few moments alone and just let the tears fall and the pain absorb me. I’ll never get used to this thing called death and I will certainly never get used to not having my first-born child by my side….I’m utterly and completely exhausted from fighting to just keep my head above water. God grant me peace.

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last several weeks of things that I have learned, been reminded of or even challenged with as a result of a tragedy of this magnitude and one that has played out in front of the world to see … literally living in a fish bowl for the past 10 + months.

Here are my thoughts: (in no particular order; just shooting from the hip)

1. EVERYONE has an opinion

2. Most do NOT know how to keep that opinion to themselves

3. Many are suddenly experts on parenting, driving, forensics, police work etc

4. Many think this could never happen to them

5. Not everyone has your best interest at heart

6. Many people love a good tragedy (aka misery loves company)

7. Everyone wants to be your “friend” — (it’s the cool thing ya know)

8. You find out who your “REAL” friends are  – fairly quickly

9. Many people talk TOO much

10. Way too many people believe everything they see and hear — including what’s in the media (HUGE mistake people….if you are over the age of 16, shame on YOU if you believe everything you hear and read, SHAME ON YOU!)

11. There are people who like to see others fail and/or hurt (sad but true)

12. Many people don’t really care that you’re hurting and living the WORST pain imaginable …they will STILL knock you down and fail to treat you with TLC (cruel world indeed)

13. People can be very dumb

14. NO words will take this away or make me feel any better – NONE

15. Telling a grieving mother that “it will all work out, it was God’s will, you’ll be ok… or anything of the like is just plain dumb

16. MOST of the time I just need a listening ear, a hug, an I love you or to hear Skylar’s name spoken… I’m not seeking your advice, unless I ask for it.

17. Everyone else gets to move on in life… I do NOT… not ever

18. I will ALWAYS be a grieving mother.. this will always hurt..I will always be incomplete on this earth

19. I am often difficult, moody, sensitive and afraid …. this tragedy has left me this way. Sad reality

20. I get mad at God, and that’s ok.

21. People are VERY judgemental …what a sad, sad way to be

22. People can be very cruel

23. People are selfish

24. My kids are hurting more than most realize

25. Skylar was loved by SO MANY

26. Skylar touched the hearts and lives of people who I never dreamed of

27. I have a solid group of friends and family that would conquer the world for me

28. God has a plan (ugh I HATE that term, but I know it is true)

29. God comforts me when I want to give up

30. Skylar speaks to me and hugs me at the perfect times

31. Be kind to everyone for each of us is fighting some sort of battle

32. Death does not escape any of us ….live with purpose

33. No matter how much you pray for your children or try to protect them… accidents happen and so does life

34. Don’t ask a grieving mother if she is “okay”

35. There is no handbook or road map on grieving the loss of a child

36. PTSD is a REAL thing

38. NO ONE (except God) will understand my exact pain … I have to get used to that

39. I can take as long as I need to grieve, be angry, question etc

40. I will never have the answers on this earth as to WHY this happened

41. There are NO guarantees in life…spend your time on this earth wisely and with people who matter

43. God never promised us easy or fair on this earth

44. Everyone needs someone they can depend on and lean on

45. I believe in the power of prayer

46. I will NEVER  stop talking about or reminiscing about Skylar (or Soph & Jules)

47. Everyone deserves forgiveness … in due time ….

48. It’s ok to feel misunderstood

49. The peaks and valleys are unpredictable

50. Losing a child is worse than I ever even imagined it to be… and I already imagined it as hell on earth

51. Having your child’s death as national news is NOT easy

52. I will spend the rest of my days making sure these girls are never forgotten

53. Fear is real

54. I no longer fear death

55. I have become good at pretending/acting

56. I hope and pray my story and journey helps others

57. I am humbled by the amount of support we have all been shown

58. There are still good-hearted people in this world

59. I will always keep the faith

60. Faith, Hope and Love is the only way to survive this world

I love you more sweet angels……. XOXO

 

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

 

Stuck

7 comments

Stuck

photo 3

I thought I had some clear thoughts to write out today and then I turned on Sky’s iPhone and sifted through her “Notes” section, which I had never done before. There were sweet messages from Sophie telling Sky that she loved her and other friends messages as well. Sky had so many book titles in her notes…another reminder of the things left unfinished. I even found a sweet letter to her boyfriend. But I think the most beautiful message that I read was almost like a note from Skylar to myself…. she had made a note for herself (Aug 14, 2012…almost 1 year to the day!) that read: ” Settle down and it’ll all be clear”……. chilling to say the least. My angel once again coming to my rescue and telling me that one day it will all be ok.

One of my best friends dropped off some pages that she tore out of a book that she was reading….she said when she read this chapter she just knew that I had to read it as well.  I believe the book is called “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed. I don’t know if it is fiction or non-fiction, as all I have are the pages she so lovingly left for me in my mailbox.

The chapter was titled “How You Get Unstuck” …. I was intrigued by the title alone. The basic concept was a mother grieving  over her miscarriage ….(much different than my tragedy but nonetheless a tragedy all its own), and after a year she is still “stuck” in her deep grief.  There was certain part of this reading where she is asking a therapist for advice that spoke to me the most:

” You will never stop loving your daughter. You will never forget her. You will always know her name, but she will always be dead. Nobody can intervene and make that right and nobody will. Nobody can take it back with their silence or push it away with their words. Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams and across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal. Therapists and friends and other people who live on “Planet My Child Died” can help you along the way, but the healing, the actual real down-on-your-knees-in-the-mud change – is entirely and absolutely up to you. ”

I read that and of course I have no way of knowing what this authors beliefs are and I of course will always without a doubt rely on my faith to pull me through the depths of this tragedy and grief…but having said that, I also realize the choice and most of the work is all my own…on my shoulders. It’s an exhausting realization to be honest but I’m praying God will continue to empower me to find the strength …even if just a little each day.

I’m still…over 9 mos later…dealing with my anger over all of this. Before I left for work this morning I stared at Sky’s photo and screamed at God and asked him WHY!!!!!??  Today is one of Sky and Sophie’s best friends birthday and even she can’t celebrate her special day without an enormous load of sadness on her young shoulders….. I ache for everyone that is struggling without these girls presence…… what an unfair world we live in.

I do believe that the company we keep and the people we choose to let into our precious circle and those that we learn to trust will without a doubt either hinder or help us all in our healing process, so choose wisely.

As a mother I will never fully heal but I pray that I can find my way to that bridge of healing….and as Sky told me today… settle down and it’ll all be clear…..

I love you more my sweet angel.

P.S.  Your senior year starts in 8 days and you have the best seat in the house for it! xoxoxoxo

Living Amidst the Grief

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Living Amidst the Grief

 

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In the past 9 months  I have heard every bit of advice that I am sure a person can hear when dealing with the death of a child…..most of it is useless, although said with good intentions and mostly with love, still pointless. I saw the quote above and felt compelled to post it, as it is oh so true.

As a mother I have worried about one of my children getting hurt, or sick or God forbid dying, since the moment I was pregnant with each of them. I could certainly imagine what it would be like to deal with a tragedy and I lived in fear that any of those worries would become a reality.  What I didn’t fully realize is that the fear and the actual pain are VERY different…..the pain is a pain that never ends, has no true definition and is deeper than one can wrap their mind around unless one has experienced it first hand. There is no cure, there are no magic words, there is no fix….the pain just simply is. And quite frankly for lack of any other definition or example it is hell on earth, it is pure torture, it is a testing of faith, and hope, and patience……it feels as if your heart and soul have been ripped from your chest and  discarded without a care in the world. There is NO relief from the pain….NONE…ZERO.

What there is, are pockets of hope. Small pockets in time when you see your other children smile and hear their laughter and you remember why you have to go on. It’s a hug from a friend, an encouraging word from a loved one, a smile from a stranger. It’s a sign from 3 angels telling me they are okay, it’s the constant reminders that Sky is right by our side, daily.

I’m writing this today hoping that we are ALL reminded that grief has no time limit, it comes with no rule book and it certainly doesn’t come with directions. Be careful when you find yourself judging others,  because I promise you as the sky is blue, you do NOT EVER want to walk this path that I and way way way too many others are on. Do not judge how one feels they need to grieve, do not judge the timing of how long their darkest days may last……do not judge. As the old saying goes, we all have a story to tell and until you’ve lived mine, do not judge me.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Matthew 5:4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted

I Love You More Skylar Lynn……

Dear Skybird,

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Dear Skybird,

Skygoofy

^^^^^^^ My goofy girl^^^^^^^…. anything for a laugh!!!

Dear child where do I even begin? I find myself writing all of these blog posts in order to update others and to even relieve myself of some of my pain and thoughts….when in reality all I want is to talk to you or talk about you.

I am reminded every second Sky that there just simply are NO words that can ease my heartache and agony over missing and losing you. Everyone has wonderful intentions and want to help but even the words of God/bible are not enough. It’s frustrating to say the least…..I want one statement or word to just change it all but I know that isn’t possible.

Most of your best friends are headed off to college in just a few weeks and I keep imagining the jealousy that you would be exuding! I can just hear you now ” I’m stuck in Bellbrook for another year!!!”  ha!  I know each and every one of them will be taking a piece of you with them, and that makes me smile and ache all at once.

So many things seemed to have changed since you’ve been gone….none of us are the same. I know you’re proud of how we have carried on but thank God you don’t have the ability in heaven to see all the pain that we are in, because I know it would crush you.

I still cant believe this is our reality Sky…..you were there in my arms for a hug and the next thing I know you are gone…..my earth shattered all around me and my heart forever scarred. You knew my fear of accidents and you even held the same fear….it’s all so wrong in so many ways. People lose loved ones every day….but a mother losing her child should not be allowed.

I know you’re with us daily..I see you in so many things…so many unexpected ways…you always know when I need you most…..thank you. Please don’t leave us baby….. we all need you and we all need to see glimpses of you from time to time. I need you in my dreams and I need to feel your hug and hear your laugh.

My memories of you flood over me daily….from the first time I felt you kick to the first time I held your tiny body. I remember all of our trips to Goodale Park and your first trip to the beach. I remember how excited you were to hold your baby sister and how many times I caught you sitting on top of her (ha). I remember your first day of pre school, your first day of kindergarten, your first lose tooth, your first best friend, your first crush, your first boyfriend, your first kiss……..I remember it all Sky and not a moment has been forgotten.

I thank God for saving you at 2 1/2 years old from pericarditis and giving us another 14 years with you after that. I thank God for choosing me to be your mommy.  I trust that He is holding you while I can’t and I trust that you will continue to give me signs so that I feel your presence. Most days I feel as if I’m drowning without you but I have to hold it together for Lexy, Caden and Ash….who I know you love so much.  Give me strength baby girl.

Psalm 139:13-16 

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 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.

I Love You More Skylar Lynn…… I can’t wait to see you again. xoxo

~ Mommy

Until I See You Again

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Until I See You Again

 

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In honor of social media’s “Throwback Thursday” I had to post this pic of my girls and the love and bond they have for one another.

Here we all sit 8 months later….wounds are just as painful and the sadness hasn’t waned but I’m here and I’m breathing and I’m attempting to live, that’s the best I’ve got for now. I’m asked often these days if the days are any easier, if I’m getting any relief, if the pain is any less……the answer is always the same, “not really”. Unfortunately I am just having to LEARN to live without her and each day is a new day and learning experience within itself. I’m amazed what the human mind is capable of doing with prayer and support from loved ones……never dreamt I would make it this far.

Most of my mornings alone are spent crying for Sky and missing her so badly that I want to just rip my hair out but it never fails after just a few moments I feel a peace and I hear her voice and I see her smile……and my tears stop. I can’t explain it but I assume it’s a peace of knowing that she is with me, always…. I used to think that was just a saying when I would hear people say that but I know its truth because  I feel her and it’s always the most perfect timing.

I stood in my kitchen this morning and I stared at the photos I have hanging up of Sky, Soph and Jules and I stood there in disbelief that they are gone from this earth. I looked at their smiling faces and I could hear each of their laughs and I just wanted to scream “WHY?!” But instead I smiled back at all of them and reminded myself yet again that they are right where they are meant to be…waiting on all of us to join them. Waiting for us in paradise where time means nothing….. a place where there is no pain, no suffering, no tears, no wants, no sadness…..but instead pure joy and love. Yes, I’m selfish and I WANT these girls back here with all of us, to love and to hold, but as a mother how can I be sad that my child is safe and happy for eternity?  These are the thoughts and faith that keep me breathing each day, keep me living and keep me loving. And without a doubt the thoughts that keep me wanting to be the best that I can be in honor of them and so that I can see them all again.

I leave you with a verse I have posted before…it is my absolute favorite verse and it is etched on Skylar’s memorial stone….

John 16:22 Now is your time of sorrow, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

I love you more Sky, Soph and Jules.

If you would like to donate to Skylar’s Scholarship Fund we now accept PayPal:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_donations&business=kkooken%40thegreene%2ecom&lc=US&item_name=Skylar%20Kooken%20Memorial%20Scholarship%20Fund&item_number=032596&currency_code=USD&bn=PP%2dDonationsBF%3abtn_donateCC_LG%2egif%3aNonHosted

 

 

 

Strength

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Strength

myheart

It’s been awhile since I felt I could post on here. As typical I’ve had some good days and some bad…this month has seemed to have gotten the better of me thus far. I think with graduation, all of the grad parties for Sky’s friends and the start of summer,  my pain has just felt so exposed and I am unable to shield and hide  it.

It’s hard to find new words to explain where I am at on this journey. I’m asked daily by one person or another how I am doing, how the kids are doing, how her friends are doing……..how do I answer that honestly without scaring people away? All in all we’re breathing….we’re all still here, I suppose that’s the best answer I can give.  They say stress can kill you, age you, make you sick etc…….how I will live a long ripe life is beyond me at this point, especially with such a broken and damaged heart.  I guess that’s for God to handle.

I am thankfully reminded often of the lives Sky has changed with her death….in a good and positive way. Thank God for those stories and reminders. My girlfriend said to me the other day ” it’s mind-blowing how many lives have so drastically been affected and changed course….”  I hope those changes continue and that Sky, Soph and Jules death was not all in vain. I pray that those who love them and even those that never knew them live life a little better, a little fuller, a little more thankful, a little more grateful, a little more hopeful and a lot more faithful.

Next week on the 4th of July we will all mark 8 months without these 3 angels here on this earth…I can’t quit thinking about all of the fireworks going off all over the city and what a show these girls will have….and in my mind it’s all for them. A celebration for the life they lived and the changes they made in others in their lives and in their deaths.

With every day that passes my heart just aches with wanting to stop time, because with every hour that passes I feel so far away from the last memories I had with all of them…I want NOTHING to fade away; not for me, not for anyone. So many of us are just stuck in neutral. Trust me I know all the sayings ‘Sky would want you to go on, to laugh, to smile, to live….” Advice is easier given than taken……especially when it involves a piece of yourself and for this mom that’s literal. I look at the photo above (nice bangs I know, where were my real friends to tell me no!) and I want to just scream. I see Sky holding on tightly to me, smile upon her face…..I want to feel that embrace, I need to. I look at that image and I want to fall to my knees and scream with anger…..that can never be replicated again. Her siblings are without her love and humor and I’m without her hugs and kisses.

So today I ask for strength…..for me, her dad, her siblings, her grandparents, her aunts, her uncles, her boyfriend, her friends……I see the struggle in all of us, daily. I see it for Soph and Jules family and friends…. I see the daily struggle in us all.  The greatest thing you can do for any of us is prayer….pray for strength.

We are a long time in learning that ALL our strength and salvation is in God. – David Brainerd

God never gives strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the minute. – Oswald Chambers

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. – Khalil Gibran

Sometimes you don’t realize your own strength until you come face to face with your greatest weakness. – Susan Gale

Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength. – Unknown

You were given this life, because you are strong enough to live it. – Robin Sharma

** We now have a PayPal account set up for Skylar’s Memorial Fund:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_donations&business=kkooken%40thegreene%2ecom&lc=US&item_name=Skylar%20Kooken%20Memorial%20Scholarship%20Fund&item_number=032596&currency_code=USD&bn=PP%2dDonationsBF%3abtn_donateCC_LG%2egif%3aNonHosted

Hope

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Hope

benchdedication

Death is a strange thing. I thought I always understood it. I mean I’ve lost loved ones before and I’ve grieved for friends and family and even complete strangers who have lost someone close to them, especially unexpectedly,  but until I walked along this sad and lonely and confusing path myself,  I just truly never knew.

I have moments, pockets of time really, where it feels almost like none of this is real and that Sky is going to come bounding through the door. I have moments where I look at her photos, watch her videos, stalk her Facebook and again it just isn’t possible that this is even my reality. She was full of life and laughter, she had plans, she had a boyfriend, she had dreams, she was on the schedule at work, she had a dentist appointment she had to go to, she had spring break to plan for and prom, she needed to clean her room and wash her car and the list goes on….there is just no possible way that it was her time to go. Or so that’s how my mind works anyway.

I told my girlfriend this morning that God sure has some explaining to do with me when I see him.

I read something the other day written by a man who is a clairvoyant, and while I don’t feel it’s right for me to visit with one I certainly believe there are many people who have the ability to see beyond what most of our naked eyes can see. His article hit home for me and it’s exactly how I hope and pray it will all be someday. He talked about when bereaved parents pass on and then come back to him and they let him know that it was all worth it. He said they have told him that you pick up just where you left off with your child and you do indeed get to see and witness milestones that you felt were lost in eternity to the death.

I do have faith that when I see Sky again it will all make sense and I’m certain it WILL all be worth it …… but as I’ve said a million times over, that does little to hold me over on this earth where I am left broken, confused and sad.  Sky and the girls infiltrate my thoughts and mind nearly 100% of the day. It does become overwhelming and exhausting but on the other hand it keeps them close to me.

I had my very first dream of Skylar this week. I’ve dreamt of her a few times since she passed but they have been sad dreams where I am at the funeral and she is gone and lifeless…this one was different. It was so short and sweet but it is forever etched in my mind. I knew she was gone and I saw her from a distance and I ran to her and I hugged her so hard and so tightly that we fell to the ground and she was laughing hysterically at me. She never said a word but she just laughed and laughed and I saw her smile. I remember thinking in the dream “is she invisible or can others see her, I wonder if it looks like I’m hugging the air right now?”  Then I thought who cares!!!   I woke up and the tears hit me and I literally could not move…I just kept thanking God and Skylar and relishing in the feeling of having her in my arms if only in  a dream and only for a few moments.

As most of you are aware Tuesday June 4th marked 7 months without these beautiful girls. The days don’t get any easier, if anything they are harder because it’s just that much longer since I have held her and heard her and seen her smile. But I will admit and I’ve probably said this before, it has definitely gotten easier to pretend. I’ve become an award winning actress at pretending I am “okay”….. and that might not be all bad. I still have no idea how I will survive the rest of this lifetime on earth without her. I can’t even imagine having another family photo taken without her being a part of it let alone plan for my future.

I do gain peace and perspective when you reach out to me and tell me how all of this has affected you and changed you for the better. Each and every story warms my heart and fills me with just enough peace to see a glimpse of the “why” in all of this. I do know that God doesn’t make mistakes.

The photo above is from June 4th at the High School where we held a small ceremony dedicating 3 benches for the girls. Benches in the court yard commons area that can be enjoyed for years to come. I know for sure Sky, Soph, and Jules were there and smiling down on all of us and once again so proud of us for carrying on their names.

I thought this morning and even tweeted that “Sky is now a statistic of the worst kind” and after I sent that I thought about it again. Perhaps on the surface and at initial thought she is (they are) statistics that NO mother ever wants to be associated with but  I am also seeing first hand how they are also statistics of girls who have forever changed the lives of others for the good, and that is immeasurable.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

“I’ll wait for you…”

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“I’ll wait for you…”

Skysite

 

I have no big revelation this week or even any great words of wisdom …. but I do feel like sharing my feelings with you all today.

Last Saturday was graduation for the class of 2013….what a day that was! After coming off the depressing low of Wednesday (scholarship awards day) and attempting to keep my sanity for graduation….pure exhaustion took over. It’s hard to even explain the emotions that I went through on Saturday sitting in that auditorium and seeing Sophie’s empty chair.  It was so WRONG that words don’t even do it justice. Many spoke about the girls and talked of how a community came together amidst this tragedy, even a moment of silence was given for the girls. However, watching Jan and her family walk up and accept Sophie’s diploma on her behalf rocked me to the core. A day that should be complete joy and celebration for these students and their families was overcast with sadness, loneliness, brokeness….the list goes on. Sophie’s absence was felt by all, but so was her presence. Someone had asked me if I would be at graduation and I said “well for many reasons I will be there but for the most obvious, because I KNOW that’s where the girls will be Saturday morning!”  And they were!  A song was sang at graduation and I don’t even know the name but the chorus was ” I love you more”….. chills ran through my body when I heard that. Immediately I was getting text messages from Sky’s friends saying “oh my gosh this song!!”  It was Sky for sure letting us all know that they were there watching and cheering along for their friends.

I find my mind drifting way too often to the night of the accident and to the days following and leading up to the funeral.  You live in such a state of shock for so many days and weeks that it’s hard to really absorb what is going on. I took NOTHING during those times… many offered me sleeping pills, relaxers etc and for some this works but I needed to be able to have clarity so that when I looked back I could remember as much as possible. Not because the memories are pleasant by any means but sorting through all of those emotions are somewhat healing for me.

I think I wrote on this before but for some reason I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately. That first visit with Sky after the accident and at the funeral home. Looking back I don’t know how I survived those days except with God and prayer. I didn’t think I could go in and see Sky and Sophie laying next to each other in a cold sterile room and walk out of their still breathing, but I did. An odd peace washed over me when I entered that room…. it hurt like hell, don’t get me wrong, but God held my hand and my heart and reminded me that they were no longer there, He had them and they were safe and happy and free.  I write this because THAT is the ONLY reminder that gets me through each and every day and trust me I have to remind myself of it MULTIPLE times a day.  My thought is this…  I can see Sky looking at me saying, “mom I love you so much and I can’t wait to be with you again, but please don’t make me leave this awesome place!  I’ll just wait for you here, I promise time will fly by….”

As a mother that breaks my heart and  warms it at the same time. I’m human, I only know earthly love and time…so I want her NOW!! But my faith tells me to be patient and I will have her forever and in the meantime she is better than any of us will ever be on this earth.

I laid in bed this morning thinking about this constant pain that is inside of me and I thought, you know it doesn’t EVER go away but it is constantly changing shape. That is God.

* As an addition I welcome anyone to email me personally at kellik74@gmail.com with any unique and successful ideas for ongoing fundraising for Skylar’s Scholarship Fund. I am not afraid or ashamed to admit that I am hellbent on NEVER letting her name fade for as long as I walk this earth.

“Sometimes I feel my heart is breaking, but I stay strong and I hold on cause I know I’ll see you again, oh this is not where it ends. I will carry you with me….”  

Carrie Underwood “See You Again”

 

The Fall

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The Fall

Skylar Memorial final

Yesterday probably marked the hardest day without Sky since the day of her burial. We presented 6 graduating seniors with Skylar’s scholarship awards. To say that I was exhausted at the end of the ceremony is an understatement. I left there feeling like I had just run a marathon.  Sitting through hours of sad “memorial” scholarships is exhausting in itself, but being there to speak to an auditorium full of Sky’s friends and classmates was unreal.

I truly did not believe that I would be able to get through the presentation and honestly I almost didn’t. I felt Sky nudging me to get up there and speak from the heart and make her proud. I can’t even put into words what it felt like to stand on a stage and look out into an audience filled with Juniors and Seniors and not see Sky and Sophie’s faces staring back at me. Isn’t this an experience that “other” people go through….not me, not my family.

My heart was so full to give Sky’s best friends a little piece of her to send them off to college and it warmed my soul to hug them all and see them smile and I know we all felt her there….but once again I walk away empty handed, without my baby next to me. Just her memory and the love I have for her is all I have to cling too. It’s simply not enough.

I want to live my life every day to the fullest because Skylar no longer can… I want to do the things that she didn’t get to do and be the person I knew she would have grown to be….but my honest feeling most days is just one of complete exhaustion and praying that this world we live in is nearing the end. This cruel and broken world is just too much to bear most days without those 3 extra smiling faces walking through my door.

I heard an analogy the other day from a woman who lost her teenage daughter to murder and it touched me to the core. She explained being on a roller coaster and the adrenaline building as you climb the hill “click, click, click click…..” and just as you get to the top and start to fall you instinctively reach for the bar and your stomach drops…..on our roller coaster we never find the bar, we keep reaching but it’s not there and the stomach drop never ends. There is no plateau, it is just constant falling with no relief. That was so powerful to me because it is exactly how I feel 24 hours a day 7 days a week…I can’t seem to catch my breath.

I had a friend ask me recently if I live day by day. I started to say yes and then caught myself and said, actually I live  breath by breath. I can be seemingly okay for a few hours and then boom a trigger comes and I’m knocked 4 steps back. I think it’s safe to say that I can expect to feel this way for the long haul and I’m okay with that. I’ve lost a huge chunk of myself and it’s not something that will ever heal,  I will just simply learn to breathe a little easier in time. I hope. I pray.

Yesterday was the senior class of 2013 last day of school…graduation is this Saturday and the void that is in my heart and soul is probably visible to the naked eye. My heart breaks as much for my family as it does for Sophie and Julianna’s family.  Knowing that Sophie should be excepting her diploma this weekend and Sky should be sitting in the audience cheering her on (and seething with jealousy that she still has another year to go)  is enough to drop me to my knees. I was warned that the year of “firsts” would be a test of faith and a battle for strength.. I won’t argue with that warning.

“The path to heaven runs through miles of clouded hell”  (Imagine Dragons)

My DAILY reminder:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

I love you more sweet angels……..

 

Wake up and Live!

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Wake up and Live!

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Here I sit yet again in total disbelief that this is the life  I was handed. Completely beside myself in utter awe that I have a child that I visit at a cemetery. In 2 days we will hit the 6 month mark of the day this earth lost 3 beautiful girls and heaven gained 3 amazing angels. 6 very long months, yet 6 months that I can’t believe I have survived.

How I get up each morning and function each day is a mystery unto me. Well, God for sure is carrying me along and wonderful friends help keep my head above water and the love I have for my 3 other babies pushes me through…but really there are days I just want to give up.  There is probably a point of time in every single day that I just want to throw in the towel and succumb to all of this pain and heartache.   I’ve made hundreds of analogies regarding this pain I have to live with and none ever seem to describe it just right. I try to think of things to compare it to and I get frustrated when I can’t think of a comparable circumstance. However, thank God I can’t, because I would not want any other pain in life to compare to this one. At times I feel like a frustrated toddler who can’t find the words to express himself….not being able to find the words to tell others how I feel is a pain itself. It’s hard to explain that frustration.

Prom is this Saturday (6 mos) and it is so very bittersweet in our home. This will be Lexy’s first prom and it’s been so fun helping her get ready for this big day. I can’t help but shed tears and feel my heart fill with sadness knowing that Skylar should be preparing for this very same dance. Lexy is going in a group with all of Skylar’s friends….Sophie and Skylar should be in that very same group. Graduation is in just a few weeks…Sophie should be there…there’s just no way to keep your mind from traveling down that road of  “what should have been”.  Just 3 days before graduation we will award 6 Bellbrook seniors with $1,000 college scholarships in honor of our Sky-bird. I say that with such a heavy heart…I’m happy to offer this but so very sad that it is even part of my vocabulary.

I saw in a convenience store yesterday a coffee drink with Bob Marley on the front “Wake up & Live”…. I instantly thought of Sky and Sophie. Not just because they loved Bob but because that’s what they would be saying to all of us. “Mom, wake up and live!!! You’ll get me back someday…hold on to that thought it will carry you through…”.   Dear God it’s those thoughts and those thoughts only that help me remember to breathe each day.

This ones for you girls:

Wake up and live! “Life is one big road with lots of signs, so when you’re riding through the ruts, don’t you complicate your mind: Flee from the hate, mischief and jealousy! Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality.”  — Bob Marley

Love you more Sky, Soph and Jules…. xoxoxox

 

Before and After

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Before and After

photo (31)

It’s weird how your mind associates and processes events. I am currently in a place where I refer to everything (either outwardly or internally) as “before Sky died and after Sky died”.  I can look at a simple photograph (not even of my children) and know that was just days before…I can look through messages on my phone and see the clear distinction of where happiness was and where horror began.

There is a picture on my phone of Caden and Ashton from trick-or-treat night….November 3rd, 2012…I took the photo just minutes after Skylar pulled away to go out for the evening. I sometimes refer back to the photo on my phone and just close my eyes and remember how perfect everything was….NEVER imagining that would be the last time I saw my baby alive and the last time my boys saw their sister.  Wow. It’s more powerful than I can even express….that moment in time where everything was “ok” and then you fast forward just a bit and your entire world is flipped on end and your life is rocked to the core.

I don’t want my “after Sky died” to be a failure or a disappointment to my amazing daughter.  I know I’m still living within the shock of this tragedy and I can only pray that in a few years the rawness wears off ; and as many have said to me, that I learn to live “beside” this pain and not in the midst of it.  Right now that doesn’t seem likely but I also never thought I could survive 5 months without her either. God has carried me through.

I’ve written about it before and I choose today, to write about it again. Make your days count. Spend them with those you love and those that matter. Pay your debts, right your wrongs, forgive others and focus on what and who are important. Lift others up, be a light to your friends and treat others with kindness. You have no idea what crosses others are bearing.  I want my “after Sky died” to count. I want my actions, thoughts  and words to reflect the love and devotion that I have for Skylar and my other 3 kids.

I Love You More…Skylar, Lexy, Caden & Ashton. xoxo

“Don’t count the days, make the days count.”
Muhammad Ali

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens. – John Homer Miller

The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient, sensitive, and Godlike. It teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. – Helen Keller

5 long months without you

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5 long months without you

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I post this picture and blog today with a heavy and sad heart…… there is something very wrong with posting an image from a family vacation and Skylar is not in it.  Last week we enjoyed a bittersweet Spring Break in Ft. Myers where every single day the absence of these 3 girls was felt. This was to be a week where Skylar, Sophie and Julianna would have been a part of….it was hard to wake up each morning and go to sleep each night knowing that there are no more family vacations for these angels.

I’ve struggled greatly the last few weeks over missing Skylar…. I know that will never end for me, but these past weeks have been different. The pain seems more raw and more close to home…..I can’t believe we’ve all endured 5 months without them. I don’t want to go another day without them.  My strength comes and goes and lately it seems I won’t survive this lifetime without Sky… the physical pain of missing her is consuming me and destroying my very soul.

I’m once again angry. I’m so angry that my Lexy will not grow up with a big sister that loved and protected her so very much. How is THAT God’s will? I want Lexy to have that bond and friendship that lasts long after I have gone away…..sisters are suppose to grow old together. I hate this path…. I accept it but I HATE it.

I want to plan Skylar’s graduation, I want to help her pack for college, I want to help her plan a wedding and I want to hold her babies…..she will NEVER get any of that and neither will I …..that’s hard to swallow and hard to breathe each day when you finally let your mind accept it.

Prom is in just a few weeks…it actually falls on May 4th….the 6 month anniversary of our babies death….. how bittersweet. I will be helping Lexy get ready for her first Prom, knowing darn well that her mind will be on the girls and knowing that Skylar should be going to the prom with Tony.  I’ll never get that again with her.

I told someone yesterday that I feel as if I have a 100 lb boulder on my shoulders and an elephant on my heart….all while trying to run uphill. I still don’t know how this pain will not kill me. My children are my heart and soul…….and when you bury one so young and suddenly, a huge piece of you goes with them. A piece that is lost forever……

Summer is around the corner, the days are warmer and the nights are longer. Skylar LOVED this time of year….I can’t imagine her best friends going through this first summer without the girls. My heart breaks for all of them.

I know I have no choice but to just keep moving…no choice but to just keep breathing and no choice but to accept my reality…… the fact is, all of those choices suck.

I know I will only make it through with God and prayer(s)…… and boy do all 3 families need a lot of prayer.  Psalm 28:7 – “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.”

 

Happy 17th Birthday Skylar Lynn…my forever angel

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Happy 17th Birthday Skylar Lynn…my forever angel

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Yesterday (March 25) marked Sky’s 17th birthday. I kept thinking all week that I would sit down and write out this long blog about Skylar and all of my feelings and where I am right now on my journey…..and each day came and went and I just couldn’t share my pain for some reason.  Yesterday was difficult to say the least…I certainly didn’t miss Skylar any more than normal ( I don’t think it’s possible to ever top this pain or level of loneliness) but celebrating a milestone like this without her present tore me apart in a brand new way.

Sky’s headstone was set Saturday morning, it was so very important to me that it was up in time for her birthday and I thank God and Brian (a God-send funeral director) that it was. I sat in that cemetery Saturday morning and tried to watch them “set” her stone… I made it about 20 minutes before I could no longer watch.  Can you imagine that as a parent…as a mother? That FINAL marking of her death…. the monument that marks who she was and reminds people of her life….speechless, that’s how it left me.

It is a truly beautiful stone and it defines her well……and that’s hard to even admit. I went back and visited her later and all I could think is that Sky would have been so sad and broken to know that her life on this earth would be cut so short. She would have been devastated to know how broken her entire family is without her…. I’m aware that she is happy and living in utter peace and joy, however the milestones that we will all miss with her breaks me into a million little pieces.

Lexy and I went back to visit Sky yesterday for her birthday and take her balloons and flowers…we then spent our day celebrating Skylar; manicures and pedicures that Sky loved so much and dinner at her favorite restaurant. I even ordered her favorite meal, just for her. There were definitely laughs shared at the table as we talked and reminisced about Sky…but the pain remained and waited patiently for me to get home and release what I was holding in.  This morning we had a birthday breakfast with Sky’s best friends in her favorite classroom with one of her favorite teachers….watching those kids sing happy birthday to my baby warmed my heart and broke it all at the same time.   I won’t lie, I left there today angry. Angry that my baby is gone and on this earth that’s about as good as it’s going to get for me.

I have stated this before somewhere in one of my blogs that you really need to be thankful for what you have…too often I see and hear so many complaints about such petty things in life or even things that with hard work and determination can be changed…..I (and MANY others just like me) are facing a battle that we can never ever change no matter how hard we want, pray and plead….this is as good as it gets for us.  I’m certainly thankful for my other 3 beautiful babies and friends and family that love me and I KNOW that it could also be worse for me… I could lose yet another child someday (dear God you know that would surely kill me). But what I do recognize is the importance of the true things in life. It’s way too easy to get caught up in yourself and small issues in life and lose sight of the bigger picture, I’ve certainly been there too.   Sky hated drama and she hated sweating the small things in life. She lived for having fun and loving her friends and family.

For the mothers that have come before me on this painful journey I am certain you have loads of advice for me but for those that come after me I want you to know that no matter the tragedy or cause of death there is a lesson to be learned and a legacy to continue.  I know each of my days will be filled with pain over my loss of Sky and the emptiness of missing her will never ever subside….but I will be damned if my girl will ever be forgotten and I will be damned if I let the devil or this broken world get the best of me or my kids. Whatever days I have left on this earth will be lived on purpose and for Skylar, with every step I take I will make her proud.  I lived for her and I would die for her and just because she is gone from this world doesn’t mean my ways will change.

Sky, I love you more…. I day closer until we meet again. xoxo

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

 

Walk by Faith, Not by Sight

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Walk by Faith, Not by Sight

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I saw this image online and I immediately thought of Skylar and the girls. I’ve stayed off my blog for a few weeks (which I missed terribly) as I had much reflecting to do. I don’t always feel that I can offer much light in the midst of this darkness we call life, when my spirits are so low.

Here I sit on the cusp of Sky’s 17th birthday…….just 10 short days away. 4 days after that we will begin our trip to Florida…a trip that was to include Skylar, Sophie and Julianna. Crossing into Florida without them is going to break this mama’s heart.  I’ve struggled a lot these last couple weeks with missing Sky’s presence so badly that I felt like I was taking 2 steps forward and 4 steps back. I suppose that is all normal in the grieving process.

There’s little to be said that hasn’t already been said about the pain I carry over missing these girls so much……but I will say that I feel your prayers. There is not a doubt in my mind that without God, friends/family and prayers I would not have survived this tragedy.  But the devil has his own agenda and he tries desperately to knock me down. It amazes me the tactics he will use in doing so. Sometimes it takes my friends reminding me of this and help me put it all back in perspective. If he had it his way I would surely fall. I refuse to let that happen. My life will continue to be one that Skylar would be proud of. I want each decision and choice that I make to reflect the love I have for Jesus and my beautiful daughter. I’m human and I will fail at times but I know my ultimate goal.

The picture I posted above made me smile because I like to think that Skylar, Soph and Jules have that beautiful view 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 –  So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

4 Months Without You

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4 Months Without You

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It’s not that any day is harder or easier than the next and the marking of an “anniversary” certainly doesn’t take away the pain from every other non-anniversary day; for every day without these girls is hell within itself. However, the 4th of each month is forever doomed for me and my family…it’s the dreaded date we all wish never took place, the date we wish we could erase and the date we wish we could change.

The photo pictured above is just one of the many treasures I found on Sky’s iPhone when it was returned to me last week. I laugh and cry as I continue to go through her phone…so full of carefree messages and videos of a life with so much promise and potential….a life that showed the world how to love and how to live.

In recent days I feel like Sky has taught me more than I ever taught her in 16 1/2 years of life…..she has taught me how to live and in some respects how to love.  I read something recently about there being an official name for a child that loses their parents (orphan) or even a spouse that loses their wife/husband  (widow) but no official name given to a parent who loses a child. The author simply stated because there just are no words to describe the loss. I paused when I read that because we all say “there are no words” and it’s true……part of my frustration at times comes from not being able to find the words to describe this pain or loss.  I just want to find the word.

I had a reality check this week while reading a devotional book that was sent to me by another grieving mother part of this horrendous club. One of the devotions was titled “Letting Go” and when I first looked at the title it made me mad.  I don’t want to let go…I KNOW she isn’t coming back, I haven’t completely lost my mind but I don’t ever want to let go of her. But as I read on I understood what this author was trying to say.

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(‘Grieving the Loss of Someone You Love’ By Raymond Mitsch and Lynn Brookside)

When we refuse to let go of the past we are, in essence, saying to God “Your timing is wrong and I don’t accept it. I have a better plan and I’m not going to let you get away with this. It hurts too much and I don’t trust you to walk me through this pain.”

We will continue to feel victimized by it until we let it go. Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting our loved one or being glad for his or her death. It DOES mean accepting God’s will for our lives and bowing to his sovereignty.

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I’m not quite sure I’m there yet in my grieving process. It’s still early and I can safely say grieving a child is like no other grief…however, it’s a comforting reminder that God is in control….often times I am so wrapped up in my grief and sadness that I forget this simple fact.

Not until each loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly,

Will God unroll the pattern

And explain a reason why

The dark threads are as needful

In the Weaver’s skillful hand

As the threads of gold and silver

For the pattern which He planned

~ Author unknown

 

Treasures Left Behind

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Treasures Left Behind

iphone pics - kelli 698

It’s been awhile since I’ve felt the need to get on here and share. There have been a lot of changes in my life in the last several weeks…..and I’m still trying to sort through all of those, as well as try to keep my focus on my healing and the healing of my children.

I had an awesome gift from Skylar given to me late last night. Skylar lost her iPhone at Julianna’s uncle’s house on the night of  Homecoming (September 23rd). Sky searched the couch that she knew she lost it in, high and low and so did Julianna. We gave up on ever finding it..thinking perhaps it had been stolen. Of course after the accident that is all I wanted was for that phone to turn up, as I knew if was full of videos and pictures of Skylar. The couch was searched once again and no luck. That was until last night when Julianna’s cousin lost her own phone and checked in the couch and what do you know…there was Skylar’s phone. In the very couch that had been searched by others.

There are no coincidences here….Sky knew exactly when I needed that phone returned to me. I have not heard my angels voice since the night of the accident and I spent hours every day picturing her saying certain phrases so as I wouldn’t lose that memory. Her phone was full of videos of her in her most purest form. With her friends laughing and having fun. To see her smile, and hear her voice, and laugh and joke around, felt like she was sitting right beside me. She literally saved my soul last night from so much pain ….it’s an unexplanable rush and high and a momentary peace.

Of course today I’ve watched them all again and gone through every photo and this time I cried…..a sadness poured over me….she was so full of life and energy and enthusiasm and love…..she never saw this coming and never even had a chance.  You would think after nearly 4 months it would fully sink it …..but I’m here to tell you that is not the case. Daily I expect to see her come rushing through the door and head straight for her room yelling “hey mom!”

I think I’ve realized more in the last few weeks than I have since the accident that Sky’s life here on earth was no accident and with this tragedy God has brought much good. I’ve known since the day she passed that God had a huge plan for this. I knew he had to. I knew because I prayed daily for that child and her friends and my God would never disappoint me and simply ignore my prayers. I had only hoped and prayed that her time here was much longer.

I don’t think I can even count or even accurately recall the amount of people and complete and total strangers that  have had the courage to reach out to me and tell me how they have been affected by the girls passing. Affected to the point that it has been life changing for them and most of these never even knew Skylar or Soph or Juls. The stories have been incredible and heart warming and completely therapeutic for me to hear. I can only imagine that there are many more I may never even be aware of.

My baby girl is changing lives….I am so very proud. God knew in death what Skylar could accomplish….it breaks my heart as a mother that His plan was so very different from my own, but if Skylar’s death can save just one person then I know it is all worth it, as painful as that is to admit.

I know I’ve said it before and as believers we all know, it’s not Skylar, Sophie or Juls that are sad or regretful…..it is all of those left behind. The selfish mama bear in me wants my baby home. But I know she is home, we’re the ones who are not.

So here goes another day in this cruel world and a painful walk in my journey of life but today at this moment I’m smiling as a proud mama who knew her baby was destined for something great in life….even if it isn’t from this earthly world but rather from the foot of her heavenly Father.

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”   (Proverbs 16:9)

 

Trust

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Trust

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All I want to do is close my eyes
I don’t want to open them again
Till I’m standing on the other side

I don’t even want to be right now
I don’t want to think another thought
I don’t want to feel this pain I feel
Right now pain is all I’ve got
It feels like its all I’ve got
But I know that its not
Oh I know you’re all I’ve got

And I will trust you, I’ll trust you
Trust you God, I will
Even when I don’t understand
Even then I will say again
You are my God
And I will trust You

God I’m longing for the day to come
When this cloudy glass I’m looking through
Is shattered in a million pieces
And finally I can just see You
God you know I believe its true
I know I will see you
But until the day I do

And I will trust you, I’ll trust you
Trust you God, I will
Even when I don’t understand
Even then I will say again
You are my God
And I will trust You

And with every breath I take
And for every day that breaks
I will trust you
I will trust you
and when nothing is making sense
Even then I will say again
God I trust You
I will trust You

I know your heart is good
I know your love is strong
I know your plans for me
Are much better than my own

So I will trust you, I’ll trust you
I trust you God, I will
Even when I can’t see the end

~ “I Will Trust You” by Steven Curtis Chapman

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I ran across this song today completely by accident….well what I thought was by accident. I’m quickly learning that these little “accidents” are God’s nuggets to me. Sending me small reminders just when I need them most.

Today was an emotional morning. I met with Skylar’s art teacher about what we wanted creatively to happen with the 3 benches that my work donated for these 3 beautiful girls. As I stood there and looked at these benches it hit me like a smack in the face….this is what is left of these girls at the school. Wow, that is a sad realization. I walked the halls to go and visit Sky’s favorite classroom (no doubt because she loved the teacher and she was oh so lucky to share this period with her closest friends) and I passed Sky’s empty locker. I stood in front of it with my hand on the lock picturing her standing in this exact position on the Friday before she died….throwing her books inside and excited that it was Friday!  Party time!  My heart swelled with emotion as again I was reminded that she had no idea she would never return to that spot.

I am getting daily reminders of a life Skylar never expected to end so suddenly. TV shows she has set to record on our DVR, magazine subscriptions still arriving at the house, dental appointment reminders, library late notices…..the list goes on.

How many of us take advantage of the thought that we will return each day? I know I have in the past…..after burying 3 girls I loved so dearly, I will never take another day for granted. Knowing that not one of them ever expected not to return to school on Monday November 5th.

Each and every day is a battle for me to listen and be still and recognize what this new plan is that God has placed me on. I loved the path I was traveling. It was safe and predictable and it was happy. That path no longer exists for me and my family and I’m struggling to be patient and know that He is God.

I talk to Skylar every single day, I don’t know how this heaven thing works. I can only hope that she doesn’t see my crying out in pain for her but yet I want her to know how much she is loved and missed. I want her to know that her friends ache for her every single day and that her family is so lost without her. But I know that God knows. I know that someday it will all make sense.

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

1 Corinthians 4:2

Ah yes, the old saying that “I wish He didn’t trust me so much.”  Isn’t that the God’s honest truth!  I don’t want this responsibility, but here I am, holding it in my lap anyway.

I look at the image I posted above and it rings true for all of my children. There is NO greater love than that of a mother and her child….or is there? I know how much I love my children and I would die a thousands deaths for each of them…..yet I can’t fathom the love our Father has for us. And I think to myself, I can switch out the word “mom” for the word “God” and that is a truer statement than any other. With that realization I have a peace wash over me. A peace that tells me my baby girl is just where she is supposed to be and that my God is holding me and guiding me and loving me through this incredible pain. The same that I would be doing for my own children if I saw them in agony. If I only listen and follow He will carry me through.

This reality does not take my pain away or the hurt and confusion that I feel over my loss of  Skylar….but it gives me hope for a better tomorrow and for a perfect eternity.

But you, oh Lord, are a shield about me; my glory, and the lifter of my head. Psalm 3:3

Dear Skylar,

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I look for your face

In all that I do

I can feel you close

Can you feel me too?

This path I am on

Is not for the weak

God is holding my hand

While your touch is all I seek

I am clinging tight

To all that I know

Searching for answers

How do I let you go?

“Be strong” , they say

“In God you must trust”

Easy advice

When it’s not their reality to adjust

This valley I am in

Is so painful and deep

I cry out your name

While your memories I keep

Stay close to me Sky

No matter the day

I am following your signs

You are leading the way.

……I love you more sweet angel

3 months without you

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3 months without you

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I’m certainly trying to gather courage and inspiration from God’s word…… sometimes I just want to tell God that He expects a lot from us! I look at the verse above and I think, “God, how am I suppose be strong and courageous? Easy for you to say, you’re God!”  Then I remember, exactly Kelli…He IS God….take it all to him, lay it before him and wait.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still”.  Exodus 14:14

I’m trying Lord….boy am I trying. I’ve never been very good at being still and waiting……especially now in this aftermath of death and tragedy….I simply want one thing and it’s the one thing I can’t have.

I have had a surge of emotions lately…everything from complete breakdowns, to nightmares about the accident to anger at everyone who gets to move forward with their lives all the while telling me, “I understand how you feel, it will get easier, time will heal, God has a plan, she’s in a better place….”   I know it’s the enemy fighting to keep me down…..filling my head with resentment and anger while God is trying to lift me up.

I’ve never known a tougher fight in my life than just simply trying to keep my head above water and not allow myself to drown in my own sorrow and pain.

I see God’s constant signs and reminders and I read and believe his word…but oh how I wish he would sit with me and chat, hold my hand and tell me by baby is safe in his arms……my faith is great but my pain at times is even greater.

Here I sit on the 3rd month “anniversary” of missing these 3 angels…..and my heart and soul are as tired and sad as before…..I’m trying to be still God and let you fight for me…..but this mother’s heart is so broken and sad how do I do this? How do I not ache and cry out for my first-born child? My baby girl that I would gladly give my life for……how do I carry this pain and move forward without falling apart?

And as I deal with my own misery I look around at my children who are suffering without their sister….. my other teenage daughter who is trapped within herself with pain… my boys that cry themselves to sleep over missing their big sis….Dear Jesus in heaven wrap your arms around my babies…..I can handle my own pain, I can’t bear to see them suffer anymore.

Every thing in life is so small and insignificant in comparison to our loss of Skylar, Soph and Juls……I apologize if my thoughts and conversations are all too consuming with these girls……so little else matters now.

To all of the family, friends and even strangers that continue to pray for all of us, God Bless You. We have no greater need than prayer.

Love you more baby girl………

 

 

For Sophie

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For Sophie

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You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

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I saw this image on a Christian site the other day and I knew it was meant for me to see and to post.

On this, the eve of Sophie’s 18th birthday, my heart is heavier than ever…..and for Janet (Soph’s mom) and her entire family. I’m posting today to ask for special prayers for her family and friends, as tomorrow will be as difficult as ever. I trust and believe that Sophie is having the party of a lifetime right now….but that does little to ease our pain and suffering here on earth and missing her very presence.

We love and miss you Soph…give big hugs to Sky and Juls from me. xoxoxo

Happy birthday sweetie, where every day is  a party, because time is not counted by years.

 

The Club

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The Club

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I posted the following to my Facebook page last week:

I’m in this “club” that I didn’t ask to be in. It has many members…way too many, there should be a maximum occupancy set for this club but there’s not, instead members just keep showing up, unannounced and unexpected. There are so many of us, yet we move throughout this club alone, for a period anyhow…. Stuck within ourselves, trying to find a way out and realizing there isn’t one. Our next step is trying to learn how to exist within this club that we never asked to be in and never wanted to be a part of. It’s a club that separates us from others….. Distinguishes us from the haves and the have-nots. Unfortunately, in this club being a “have” is not a good thing. I wish I was a have not. I wish my membership to this club had an expiration date or an early termination clause….. I’d give anything for this club to fold and cease to exist. I wonder how the members of this club are chosen? It’s a sad club. A heart wrenching, earth shattering, soul clutching, life changing, mind-blowing, heart breaking, body numbing, club. I have my club card. Established November 4, 2012. Forever branded on my heart and soul. — with Skylar Kooken.

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I’ve thought a lot this week about this  “club” that I have found myself included in. I know I’ve said it before and you will probably hear me say it a hundred more times….I can NOT believe this is the path my God has chosen for me. And I am aware that we all have free will…I say “the path he has chosen for me” loosely..but ultimately no matter what, He is in control. As of lately I have found my strength waning, no doubt from exhaustion and sadness, and I find myself questioning how on earth I will survive this pain. I know I speak for others who have lost a child to a tragedy such as this….Sweet Jesus in heaven this TRAUMA that we are left to endure is painstakingly debilitating and overwhelming! I know my God is there for me when I call out to him….and he slows my tears and helps me function at a fairly average rate of normalcy…..but this pain, dear God this pain….it never goes away.  I am not looking for sympathy or pity…… I just simply have no other way to explain this than sheer absolute hell on earth and a torturous pain that we, members of this club,  have to live with….with every breath we take.

I posted photos of 2 of my newest tattoos. My “Breathe” tattoo is a daily reminder to myself to just breathe….when all else fails just breathe…..and surrounding that reminder are 3 free birds, representing Skylar, Sophie and Julianna. I miss and love these 3 girls so much but I look at my wrist and I see them free and soaring high…..and for a moment I smile.

My other tattoo is what Skylar wanted for her 17th birthday (March 25), I had this placed somewhere on my body that I never imagined I would have a tattoo…just under my collarbone. I did this for good reason, I want to see this every time I look in the mirror as a reminder from my sweet angel and from God…. “Don’t think twice, it’s all right Kelli….”.

I read a quote today from Pastor Rick Warren (author of a Purpose Driven Life):

 “Your greatest ministry will likely come out of your greatest hurt.”

Wow. How bittersweet is that thought? I can only hope and pray that my faith and love for Jesus Christ shines through even in my darkest hours (and there will be many I assure you), and yes, that thought brings me joy. On the flip side, how utterly devastating that I’m reaching others via the death of 3 precious angels.

There was a wonderful fundraiser held for Skylar yesterday and organized by some wonderful friends. Throughout the night I was told many times how proud and in awe people are of my strength… I take ZERO of that credit. This is all God. Yes, I have an open heart and I know with Him all things are possible….but without his loving arms around me 24/7 I would surely fall.

I leave you with this:

Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.   Micah 7:8

“God will not permit any troubles to come upon us unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.”  (the late Rev. Peter Marshall)

I’m listening for my plan…..I trust God has a great big one.

I love you more my sweet Sky….missing you like there is no tomorrow….

 

Power of Prayer

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Power of Prayer

Sky

 

This is one of my favorite pictures of Skylar…taken just weeks before the accident.

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I have been fairly quiet lately and I apologize for that. I keep waiting for my days to get easier but instead they are filled with more memories of Skylar, if that is even possible. I’m back to being angry, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not angry at God per say but I am angry that this tragic situation was even in the cards for me and my family.

I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat myself now; I trust and believe that heaven is an AMAZING place that none of us can ever comprehend. However, having said that,  my tears today are for the earthly things that I will miss with my daughter. Simple tasks of just taking all of the kids to the dentist (which we did today) and the void of Skylar not being there filled the entire place. Every person there felt the absence of Skylar. It warmed my heart that she is missed by even our dentist, but it also wretched my stomach knowing that is how it will forever be on this earth….a void without her.

I am still trying to come to peace with the idea that this is God’s will for our lives. People lose loved ones every day and my heart breaks for anyone that has to let a loved one go……harsh reminder of just how difficult this world is.  I live every day in fear now…fear of losing someone else close to me (God forbid another child) and some day I know I will have to face death yet again with someone I love. God help me when I do.

I’m truly trapped within myself these days. I know God is in control, I have faith He will see me through this and I have hope for a brighter tomorrow. However, the reality is I am broken, I am numb, I am lost, I am scared, I am lonely, I am empty and yes, at times I even feel completely destroyed and alone.  This is when it is hard to imagine the good in all of this and to understand God’s will. Yes, I know in time (and maybe not even until heaven) God’s will, will be revealed to me. That doesn’t help a grieving mother’s heart. I know a lot of things to be true, but in times of deep sorrow and grief, knowing is sometimes our greatest enemy. I also know that God had the ability to prevent the accident or to even save these babies in the aftermath. He saved 3, why not 6? I know I’m not suppose to ask these questions because they will get me nowhere. However, try being a grieving mother and just try and push these thoughts out of your mind. I can pretend all day that my faith has never wavered and I accepted God’s will from the moment I was told that my baby was killed; but I would be a liar and frankly, not human.

So that is where I am 79 days later…..confused, sad, broken, and trying to find my way in the dark. I feel God near me and I feel the prayers. However, this thing called death is bigger than all of us. Compile death with that of your teenage daughter and her 2 beautiful friends, and you’re left with a hole in your heart and a void in your life that has no proper adjectives to even describe the pain.

I’m writing today asking for prayers. Prayers for not just me but for Skylar’s siblings, dad, grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, FRIENDS, boyfriend……literally everyone that loved her and is missing her. And I ask for prayers for Sophie’s family and Julianna’s. I know many of you pray daily for all of us….but today the need seems so much bigger. Thank you for your willingness to lift us up in prayer so often. It is our greatest need right now.

I love you more my sweet Sky….missing you every second of the day. What a difference you made in your short life. I’m so very proud of you.

Psalm 107:28-30   Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.  

Lord please calm the storm.

Hope

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Hope

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I hate that I know the number of days without my precious Sky….72 and counting. The last week has been different, almost numbing. I have felt a  great sense of peace over me but at the same time I feel numb inside and as if there is a dam ready to break.

The officer that came to my door the night that Skylar died, showed up this weekend to discuss a few loose ends, seeing him at my door, without knowing he was coming, unearthed some feelings that I have been trying to suppress the last several weeks. I guess this is all part of the “moving forward part….”

I had an overwhelming feeling this morning that “time waits for no one”….we all know this…but today I just wanted to stop everything and allow myself some precious time to grieve and be sad and just remember my Sky-bird…..instead I felt time pushing me through, forcing me to start my day and move forward. Maybe this is a blessing……

I’ve felt very, very sad the last several days thinking how sad Skylar would be if she had known her life on this earth would be so darn short. I look at pictures of her and see that huge smile of hers and her goofy personality and I know her soft heart….knowing she would be so sad to leave her family and friends. I know that is irrelevant now…but having an earthly mind, it is had to imagine her not missing me….and all of her loved ones.

I’m still trying to figure out this grief thing, wow does it sneak up on you just when you think you have a handle on everything! I live with this aching in my soul from missing Skylar so darn much, but I know I have to get up and keep moving. Keep on keepin’ on……it’s what my 3 kids need and what Skylar would want.

I’ve seen so many lives changed in the last 72 days, it is truly amazing. These 3 beautiful girls left incredible marks on the lives of every one they touched and even those they didn’t. I am so happy and grateful for that…..I just wish it didn’t take a tragedy such as this for people to realize the importance of love, friends, life, faith, and God.

I read a verse the other day that hit me pretty hard: “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” Isaiah 66:13.   11 simple words that mean so much.  I know the ends of the earth that I would go to for my children; knowing God’s comforting arms are around me gives me hope. Hope in a better day.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

I love you more Skylar Lynn………

 

God IS in control

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God IS in control

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I look at this photo of Sky and my heart skips a beat. I remember how excited she was on this day!  She even let me take several photos (which she never did). How bittersweet this is…….as excited as she was, I of course was a nervous wreck and worried constantly about her on the roads.  Of course, as we all know now, my worst fears became my unfortunate reality.

I’ve had a very rough few days while missing my baby and her friends. I’ve allowed the devil to get me down and take my focus off of God and my healing. It wasn’t until I read something this morning in my ‘Jesus Today’ book that I was reminded just how pathetic and powerful the devil can be if you take your eyes off Jesus, even for a moment.

‘Jesus Today  (paraphrased)

Whenever you look for me, you will find me. My promise to be with you always ensures that you never have to face anything alone. The evil one uses three D’s to keep you from finding me: distractions, deception, and discouragement.

Boy he’s done that alright…..this week felt like 3 steps back and the loneliness I was fighting was so painful it felt debilitating……no doubt the work of this evil one!

I was also reminded again today that I am traveling God’s path and not my own.  God is doing things that I can never understand and he has told me that in his word…..that is why he tells me to Trust Him!

These are the daily reminders that I need to hear. To KNOW and believe that God is in control of my life – because I asked him to be, brings me a blanket of peace.

I have prayed for Skylar since the moment I knew she was growing inside of me…..and Sky has a faithful, God-loving family that has also fervently prayed for her and all of her siblings. That tells me that God held Sky in the palm of his hand during her life here on earth and even now while she is in His presence…God heard our prayers, God knows our hearts.

These are the promises that bring me HOPE and peace.  The devil got a hold of me this week and certainly focused my attention on the tragedy of this situation and on my own pain and questions…..when I know full well, the ONLY way for me to move forward in this life with any hope of survival is to focus on God and His promises for Skylar (Soph/Juls) and for me.

I read these verses today and the peace I felt was indescribable.

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

The Lord watches over you- the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:5-8

I am making it a  conscious daily reminder that the devil will only get me down with these 3 D’s if I allow him.  I don’t want anyone to distract me from where I am headed…. and that’s to eternity with my baby, when God calls me home!  I’ve seen enough discouragement and distraction and deception these last 2 months to last me a lifetime…..I choose to focus on God’s plan and his reassurance for me and my loved ones.

Missing you as always baby girl…..always on my mind, forever in my heart. Love you more………

2 months without you

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2 months without you

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This photo encompasses my Sky-bird perfectly. Goofy, joyful and forever making her friends and others laugh.

2 months ago today I lost a chunk of my heart that will never heal or be replaced. I simply can’t believe that when I wake each morning that you will not be there.  I can still hear your laugh and see your smile and I’m terrified for the day when your voice fades from my memory. Grieving and healing are ad odd pair…..when I’m grieving I feel as if I’m holding my baby tightly to my chest and when I start to feel any bit of healing it feels as if I’m leaving her behind. This is where I become stuck in neutral….and it’s a painful place to be.

For any mother (or father) who has lost a child I can only imagine that you feel the same as me…..when does it start feeling real?  I know she is gone but there are times when it simply feels unreal…too big to be true…too heavy, too incomprehensible, too  tragic for God to really be entrusting me with this pain and new path in life.

There are so many exhausting tasks to be had after your child dies….things that in a million years I NEVER imagined myself doing. Receiving the autopsy report for Skylar was bone crushing painful but I did something yesterday that was just as painful if not more……I picked up Skylar’s death certificate.

I held that in my hand and cried like a baby…I remember getting her birth certificate and looking it over carefully before I stored it in a safe place and now here I was 16 1/2 years later holding a piece of paper that told me she was no longer with us. Wow. How can this be my world? Just like a birth certificate with its place of birth, time of birth, parents names…..the death certificate is eerily similar yet so different.

To see on a piece of paper that my daughters place of death was a “roadway” and that her cause of death was Multiple Body Trauma due to a Motor Vehicle Crash (passenger-belted)….wow the details. There was more that I will spare you the details of…but can you imagine as a parent holding that piece of paper in your hands and trying to comprehend it and then trying to go about and live your life and raise your other children and go to your job and well, just simply function?

God must have A LOT of faith and trust in me and the others affected……and you know what the reminds me? It reminds me that I had better not let Him down…or my Sky-bird.

I read this today on hope from ‘Jesus Calling’

HOPE is a golden cord connecting you to heaven. This cord helps you hold your head up high, even when multitude trials are buffeting you. I never leave your side, and I never let go of your hand. But without the cord of hope, your head may slump and your feet may shuffle as your journey uphill with Me. Hope lifts your perspective from your weary feet to the glorious view you can see from the high road. You are reminded that the road we’re traveling together is ultimately a highway to heaven. When you consider this radiant destination, the roughness or smoothness of the road ahead becomes much less significant. I am training you to hold in your heart a dual focus: My continual Presence and the hope of heaven.

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As I sat and read that this morning I look up from my desk at 3 pictures I have hanging on my way…artwork that I purchased this summer and hung in my office, never imagining where I would be today…..in front of me I see 3 birds and the words HOPE staring me back in the face….and I smile because I feel Skylar, Sophie, Julianna and most importantly God, watching over me and smiling back.

I love you more my Sweet Sky-bird…..missing you more than ever.

 

 

 

Make it count!

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Make it count!

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The start of a brand new year is typically ushered in with celebrations, hopes, dreams, resolutions and goals for the upcoming year ahead. Mine as you can well imagine, was brought in with an enormous mound of grief and sadness. I thought a lot about the years past and even some of the great memories of 2012. However, my mind quickly zoomed to November 4th…..the day my world stopped turning.  I look at these 3 girls and my heart aches. I have this continual knot in my stomach and lump in my throat, and I wish, from my lips to Gods ears,  that I could turn back time…if only for a moment.

My heart is heavy tonight for everyone that is missing Sky, Soph and Julianna. I am angry that my kids have lost their sister and angry that to our earthly minds, none of this makes sense. I am trying to find the good and the purpose in this loss, because all that I see right now is a mother who can hardly function, whose entire world has been ripped from her arms; a mother who is watching her children suffer and young friends of our girls suffer….I have great faith in God but man oh man am I struggling.

I thought a lot today about when people make new years resolutions and how silly they are because 9 times out of 10 you set unrealistic goals.  I have set ONE goal for my life and that is TO MAKE IT COUNT. God gives us one shot on this earth and as we have seen with our 3 angels,  life is gone in moment and often times without warning. Make yours count! I want what I do every day to make a difference in either my own life, the lives of my children or the lives of others. I’m going to make it count – for my Skybird and for Soph and Julianna.

I read an amazing devotion today and I would like to share it with you. (from the book:  Jesus Today)

Though I bring grief, I will show compassion. So do not despair when hard times come your way, and do not try to escape them prematurely. Timing is MY prerogative! There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Grief is a season, and I use it for your good.

Unlike the four seasons of the year, the seasons of your life are not orderly or predictable. When you are grieving, you may feel as if sorrow will accompany you the rest of your days. But remember that I have promised to show you compassion. So great is MY unfailing love for you!

When you are suffering, search for signs of My merciful presence. Even during your darkest days, streaks of light break through the storm clouds – providing hope and comfort. My unfailing love shines upon you always. Look up to Me and see My face shining down upon you. I never run out of compassions. They are new every morning.

Though the Lord brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. Lamentations 3:32

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. Numbers 6:25

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I hope in Him!” Lamentations 3:22-24

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Why am I always still so amazed when God brings me the perfect message in my time of need? He promised never to leave me or forsake me, yet each and every time I feel myself in awe of his goodness.

My days of missing Skylar will never end, my pain will never cease, my questions will go unanswered in this lifetime and my anger will come unexpectedly….. but in the end God’s promises will remain and he will hold my hand, guide my heart and pick me up when I fall.

“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark” George Iles

 

I love you more Skylar Lynn……

 

 

 

 

Nothing Gold Can Stay

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Nothing Gold Can Stay

 

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Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

By Robert Frost

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Skylar loved the movie “The Outsiders” and this was her favorite poem. My “old soul” child.  She sure makes me smile.

The more I read it, the deeper the meaning I find and wow, how appropriate this poem is!  All things wonderful must go, and can not stay….my baby was certainly gold to me, why wouldn’t God want this wonderful child in his presence?

This was the verse that God gave to me tonight when I asked for His comfort.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Thank you God for the PROMISE that my baby is in your loving presence and that someday I too will be joined with her again. Thank you for your GRACE!  Although this does not ease my pain and sadness, it does bring me comfort deep inside my soul.

Loving you and missing you Sky-bird. Today,tomorrow and always. I love you more.

 

 

Christmas with my angel

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Christmas with my angel

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“Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you.” Isaiah 41:10

Boy did I need this verse today. Every day is torturous without Skylar, and I was prepared for today to not be any different. I was wrong. Today was worse, is that even possible God!?

I had 16 Christmas’ with my precious baby….today was like someone was slowly suffocating me but expecting me to continue to breathe.  It started late last night as I prepared the stockings for the kids and not taking Skylar’s down to fill it with goodies was a knife to the heart. I sat and stared at her stocking and cried and simply longed for her.

This morning as every one slowly woke to open gifts (thank God my kids sleep in), I dreaded going downstairs and seeing the empty spot where Sky always sat to open her presents. The kids had a great Christmas and for awhile our minds were occupied and we enjoyed each other. But like always it doesn’t take long for the aching for Skylar to return and I have to keep the smile on my face while inside I’m being torn apart.

I went and visited with the girls this afternoon, alone. I sat with them and talked with them as I typically do. Today was so emotional I could hardly remember how to breathe. My tears started before I even got out of my car….the realization that the cemetery is where I have to go to visit my baby on Christmas now. Yes, I am well aware that Skylar is not “there” but rather in the presence of Jesus now. However, the only body I ever knew my baby in, is there, right there in that cold ground. That’s where I go to feel close to all 3 girls.

To say that any of us felt a “void” today is the understatement of the year! As I’ve stated before, there simply aren’t words big enough and powerful enough to describe the pain and sadness that we all feel.

I read a few things on FB today in regards to people having “bad days” or “a disappointing Christmas'” and yes, while pain is pain and we all have crappy days and unfortunate circumstances in life; I just urge you all to step back and remember and recognize what is TRULY IMPORTANT in life and to know, it could always be worse. You could be visiting a piece of your heart at the cemetery each day. I know many of you that read my blog, do know this pain and understand it all too well.  I know Skylar has taught me to appreciate EVERY minute that I have on this earth with those that I love and everything else is irrelevant now…everything.

I hope each and every one of you had a Christmas filled with God’s love.

I Love You More My Sweet Sky………

 

 

Merry Christmas Girls….

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Merry Christmas Girls….

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I’ve sat down a few times within the last few days to write in my blog and I just couldn’t find the words. I had a pretty rough weekend with my sadness and pain, it’s strange how there are moments of peace, and life seems “ok” if only for a moment or 2, but then without warning the walls crash in. It’s so very exhausting.

This afternoon we held a celebration at the cemetery for our 3 angels. I looked around as our friends and family gathered to remember our beautiful girls and the feelings inside me were of sadness and love. Love for those that took time from their day to share time with us to honor our girls and sadness that any of us had to be there at all.  I know I keep saying this over and over again, but this loss is so great that it still feels so unreal.  I didn’t just bury my beautiful daughter that day but also 2 other beautiful girls that I love and miss so very much. I looked around at their peers and my heart broke for them, just seeing the tears in their eyes and the pain on their faces. I am struggling to deal with this pain and I’m an adult who has learned over the years to trust God and to have faith in a higher purpose. However, how are these teenagers suppose to know how to deal with the loss of their 3 friends?  I want nothing more than to save them from this pain they are experiencing. I know first hand just how debilitating it can be and I don’t want that for any of them.

I’ve also thought a lot the past several weeks of how I will never be able to fully relax ever again. I still have 3 children that hold my heart in their hands and I worry continually about them. I pray to God that he does not trust me with any more tragedies for a very long time. I know that he will not give me more than I can handle and I beg of him, please let this be it!

Christmas should be a joyous time of year for all of us; without the birth of Christ what hope would any of us have? Without his birth I would not be able to sit here tonight and have faith that my Sky-bird is in the arms of Jesus and celebrating like none of us can even imagine.  The earthly mother in me  is writhing in pain with the reality that Sky will physically not be by our sides this year, but the believer in me knows she is going to have a better Christmas than any of us.

I still fear that my precious baby will be forgotten and that the impact of this tragedy will fade… I pray that each of you think of my Sky (and Juls and Soph) each day,  if for no other reason than to thank God for your own time on this earth and for your time with those that you love.  Because as we have all learned from this loss, it can end in a second and without warning.

I thank God that I have him to lean on in this time of despair, for without him I would surely fall.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy, healthy New Year. Please continue to pray for our family and friends and remember to live each of your days like they are your last.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”  

Psalms 18:2

Merry Christmas Skylar, Sophie and Julianna. I love and miss you every second of every day……..

Forgiveness

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Forgiveness

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I sat down in these wee hours thinking I was going to write about one thing and as I sat here and let my thoughts sort themselves out, I learned real quick that God was pushing me in a different direction.

I’ve read a lot on forgiveness lately and am thankful that I have always been someone who believed that forgiveness is a gift to ourselves and not to the one you are forgiving…we do it to set ourselves free. But I also firmly believe that as a “believer” God commands us to forgive others, who am I to argue with God?

There are 3 simple principles that I refer to when I’m asking “why must I forgive?!”

1. God Commands it: When Peter asked Jesus how many times he must forgive his brother when they sin against him, Jesus’ answer was clear…. “Seventy times seven.”  Matthew 18:21-22

2. God’s Example:  “I, even I, who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25

3. God’s Power: Yes, God does ask us to sometimes do what seems impossible…even forgiving those that we have no idea how we will. He asks us knowing that we can do it with His power and love. “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14

Verse 13 gets me every time…”forgive as I forgave you”…..God forgave ME so that I can spend eternity in heaven with him and my precious Skylar, who I miss so much. How can I make a good argument to God about forgiveness when I read a verse like that?

I’m writing this for all of you who follow my blog and journey, so that you know, I have chosen to forgive the young man who was driving the night Skylar was killed. He was a friend of Skylar’s and it was an accident. I could sit here for years and hate him and blame him and scream “why her and not him?!” But why stop at him, if I’m going to blame him I might as well blame God, as he really holds all the power, right? And at the end of all of this blaming and unforgiving what am I left with? Has Skylar been safely returned to my side and the past erased?

I choose to forgive, just as God forgave me and continues to forgive me daily as I sin and just as my Skylar would want me to. Those 2 reasons are good enough for me.

I choose to remember Sky’s life and celebrate her and to not make her tragic death all that she was.  I’m reminded every second that I continue to breathe in this cruel world,  that she is protected, healthy, happy and safe for eternity – what better gift could I wish for this Christmas? Yes, I miss my baby beyond words, there aren’t even words that exist for the pain I feel from missing her; but she is in the arms of Jesus forevermore and no one can ever harm her again. I can not wait to be where she is, and until then my life will be reflective of the love I have for her. I will live my life in her honor and I will make her proud.

I’m trying to learn to walk again without my legs. Losing a child is losing a part of yourself. Notice I didn’t say “it’s like losing a part of yourself”, because it truly IS losing a part. So each day my journey continues, one painful step at a time. However, I have the promise from God that “ALL things work together for good, to those who love him and to those who are called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28

Thank you God for the reminder and promise that YOUR purpose is bigger and better than mine, and that someday it will all be reveled to us. Take care of my baby girl. You know the love that I have for her and you know the depth of my pain, use me as a light and give me purpose amidst this tragedy.

I love you more my sweet angel……

 

 

and the greatest of these is Love…..

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and the greatest of these is Love…..

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walk by Faith…..have Hope always...Love others

I wasn’t going to post anything this evening ( I suppose it’s early morning now) but I sat down at my computer, I pulled this verse out of a prayer jar that some friends made for me. This is one of my most favorite verses in the bible ( I even have a portion of it tattooed on me). As I looked at this verse I felt compelled to post it.

How powerful are these 3 words? Can you imagine this world if we ALL practiced Faith, Hope and Love in our daily lives?   People often ask (myself included) “what’s wrong with this world?!” The answer is simple: We lack Faith, Hope and Love….

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how people treat those that they know are going through a difficult time. It’s human nature to be a little more gentle, a little more patient, a little more kind, to someone that is struggling through a divorce, a death, an illness…..but what about those that you have no idea what they are struggling with? After all, we are all familiar with “the golden rule”…..why is it that we forget to actually practice it?

This world is cruel enough with things we can’t control (cancer, natural disasters, death, accidents). Why can’t we strive to insure that we are giving 100% to the things that we can control: our faith, hope and love?

My prayer tonight is for each of you, that as you wake this morning to start your day, you are reminded to bless others with your faith, hope and love.

I know nothing better that I can do to honor Skylar, Sophie and Julianna, than by practicing Faith, Hope and Love.

I love you more my sweet Skylar……missing you as always.

 

 

To my Skylar,

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To my Skylar,

My sweet Sky, it’s been another one of those days. Today I have been haunted by the men who came to our door on the morning you died…….I can’t get the things they said to me out of my head. I can’t quit thinking about how I felt when I saw them and knowing it was going to be awful news, or when they asked to see a picture of you. I can’t erase the memory of how my body felt at the realization that you were gone……it’s such an indescribable feeling. It was of course sadness, gut wrenching pain and denial but there is also another feeling there that I can’t quite describe, an earth shattering feeling that when I think back, I don’t know how that feeling alone didn’t kill me.

I feel the anger inside of me and it isn’t for anyone in particular and perhaps that is worse, as I don’t know where to direct these feelings. I keep telling myself over and over and over and over again that you are safe and happy and forever in the presence of Jesus…..and for moments at a time I am at peace and I smile at those thoughts…..and then they fade.  Reality sets in and the human in me can not forget all the plans you had, the dreams, the friends and your entire life ahead of you.  With each day that passes I see others moving further and further away from the memory and impact of this tragedy, while all of us (and Soph and Juls families) are stuck in neutral and at times even reverse.

Ashton helped me wrap presents last night and the entire time I had a knot in my stomach knowing that there would be no gifts for you this year, having the name tags out and not writing “Sky” on any tags was making me physically sick.

Sky, I’m done trying to make sense of all of this, because I know that I never will; what I want is to know how to breathe again.  How do I get up each morning and lay my head down each night knowing that in this lifetime I can never touch you, hold you, kiss you, laugh with you, argue with you, talk with you, make plans with you…..ever again? How does a mother go on?  I feel so alone Sky, how do I deal with a pain that I can’t even describe?

We are all aching so much for you, how is Lexy suppose to travel through this life without her big sister?  She needs you Sky, please stay close to her always and let her feel and know your presence.

I  held your clothes tonight from the day you died….holding them and touching them help me feel close to you, just knowing it is the last outfit you picked out and the last one you wore somehow brings me momentary comfort. I know you’re gone and I know you’re in eternity but there is a part of me that is failing to accept this reality, the enormity of this is too much for my brain to comprehend. I suppose it’s a coping mechanism meant to keep me sane.

A million memories have come rushing in today, from the moment I first held you in my arms to literally the last time I did. I wish I had hugged you longer before you went out on Saturday November 3rd…..I wished I’d held onto you and never let you go.

Christmas is just 10 days away and to say that it is going to be hard, is the understatement of the year. Each day without you is virtually unbearable and to celebrate a holiday that is centered around family without you present is going to simply be hell on earth.  I beg of Jesus that he let us all feel your presence and warmth around us.

I miss everything about you Sky and I’m fighting so hard to keep my chin up and my head high. I thought I had faith before but WOW I’m learning every single day just what faith truly is!

Telling you “I love you” and ” I miss you”  doesn’t even seem powerful enough. I need words that don’t even exist in order to describe the love that I have for you and the feelings of loss that I am experiencing.

I pray that I dream of you tonight.  I love you more my sweet baby…….xoxo

We need you God

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We need you God

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”  2 Corinthians 4:8-9

I have had such a wave of emotions today that I don’t even know where to begin. My day began as usual, with thoughts of Skylar and my heart was so heavy with the sadness of knowing that I will never know my beautiful daughter as an adult….as a mother herself one day.  I cried and ached for all the years I’ve lost with her.

I was busy all morning and afternoon with Ashton (a bonding mom and son day for us) and I had no idea of the tragedy in Connecticut until we returned home late afternoon and turned on the TV for the first time. All of us, including 9 year old Ashton, had the same reaction…”Oh dear God what is wrong with this world!?” I suppose I know what is wrong with this world….we live in a sinful, evil world. Thank God in heaven that THIS world is temporary and we have His promise of a perfect eternity.

My heart breaks for these families. For the first time in my life I can feel the TRUE pain that a tragedy such as this can bring. To send your child off and expect them to return to you, but they don’t. Our circumstances are much different but our outcome is the same…..and it’s an outcome I keep praying to God in heaven to please protect others from.

My heart hurts this evening for all of the families and loved ones who are enduring loss from today’s tragedy. Because I know first hand that it doesn’t matter what anyone says to them, or how comforting the words are, NOTHING will ease their pain and suffering. There are mother’s tonight whose entire worlds have just closed in on them and they will never be the same. For them my heart bleeds.

I get so angry with tragedies such as this and not for just the obvious reasons of heart wrenching loss but for the skeptics out there who already question God’s goodness – I fear this gives them one more reason to doubt God’s love for all of us.

My prayers tonight are for the children,  families and friends all affected by this senseless act of violence and for the skeptics…please Jesus don’t let this be another reason for them to doubt you and turn their backs to you. We need you now.

And for my sweet Sky, Soph and Juls…. I know you welcomed those children into your arms today and hugged them and laughed with them and played with them. I have no doubt that you took them by the hands and showed them around their new beautiful forever home.

Love you more Skylar Lynn……

 

 

Brokenhearted

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Brokenhearted

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 –  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

__________________________________________________________________________

I keep referring to this verse today, reminding myself that my troubles and heartache are temporary compared to my eternity with Him.

I was presented with Skylar’s autopsy this morning and the knot and sickness in the pit of my stomach has not subsided. The same 2 coroners who came to my door the morning that Skylar died, were the same 2 that arrived this morning.  I’ve said it before and as you can well imagine, I am haunted by their voices and presence. Having said that, God sent me 2 of the most gentle individuals, including a believer that asked to pray with us before he left us today.

I processed what they were telling me but in small fragments. I stayed busy after they left so as not to have to think too much about what the report said. It wasn’t until I had some time alone that I decided to read the report more in depth. I found myself reading a horrific nightmare on paper, unfortunately it was my reality and my Sky’s reality.

These are the moments when my anger begins to flare. I understand that Skylar was never truly mine, I knew someday Jesus would want her back……but WHY did it have to be in such a horrific manner?!  Skylar didn’t die peacefully in her sleep and go home to be with Jesus… Skylar was scared and died violently, if only for a split second, and now we are all left with the morbid details of the accident and of her death.  My heart is screaming out to God because I am haunted by her death, not because she is in eternity, but how she had to get there.  How do I get past that – how do any of us get past that?  As a mother, my heart skips a beat if my child skins their knees or knocks their head to hard…HOW do I recover from the reality of how she died?

I’m trying so hard to be strong and to know that God is in control but I can’t as a mother put the sickness that I feel, in every inch of my being, to rest. Unfortunately, I believe that I am asking questions that there simply are no good answers for……I believe the answer is, we don’t recover and we don’t put it to rest, we simply learn to breathe again and to walk again with this pain living inside of us.

I feel discouraged this evening and I hope that doesn’t disappoint those of you that tell me how strong I am. I am strong in my faith and I am strong in my love for God and I am strong in my love for my children…..but I am weak, I am human and I am broken.

 

One Step at a Time

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One Step at a Time

I read an interesting article last night that a friend recommended to me titled “When a Child Dies”.  Much of the article mentioned things I’ve read before but there were a few points that hit home for me. The author talks of tears being like balm to the grieving heart. He also states that losing a healthy child to an accidental death can entail a grieving period of  3 – 5 years, and that this so- called “recovery time” is normal.  That number brought me comfort and pain…comfort in knowing that  MAYBE there will SOME day come a time where I can possibly breathe again, and pain in realizing that I still have a very long journey ahead of me.

In talking with a friend today I was reminded yet again that we should all be remembering these girls for what they were when they were alive, and celebrating those memories. I pray that none of us focus too long on their deaths, unless it is to celebrate their homecoming with Jesus.

I had a moment of clarity this morning while I was crying out to God. I thought to myself, what if God told me that he would return Skylar to me, what would I do?  I sat there in my bathroom and began to sob and realized that I would not want her back in this cruel, unforgiving world. I miss my baby with all my heart and soul, but knowing she is happy and safe for eternity, why would I take that from her? Something about that realization and admission placed a blanket of peace of over me for the entire day.

I ask for specific prayers tomorrow t 11:15 a.m, when we meet with the coroner as he presents us with Skylar’s autopsy report.  I need to hear every detail, even the ones I’ve heard before, this is part of my healing journey. I was there when she was conceived, I was there when she was born, I was there for every thing in between, but I wasn’t there when she took her last breath…..I need to know.  I’m trying to prepare myself for seeing the same man at my door that stood there just 6 weeks ago and delivered to me the worst news a parent can ever hear. I pray for God’s comforting arms around me and that I feel Skylar’s presence near.

I titled my posting tonight “One Step at a Time” for good reason……I’ve used that saying a million times in life and I thought I knew what it meant. I realize now that I really had no idea just how literal that saying can be.  For now,  I truly survive and function “one step at a time”.  I think that’s the best any of us, that are deeply affected by this tragedy, can ever hope for again……

For the Lord does not abandon anyone forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion according to the greatness of his unfailing love.” 
Lamentations 3:22-26; 31-32

AMAZING SIGN FROM HEAVEN!

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AMAZING SIGN FROM HEAVEN!

Wow! As I type this I am shaking. When I was writing my earlier post I was talking to Skylar and begging her for a sign. It’s not something I would typically type and tell you all about as I like to keep my talks with Skylar to myself, even though they are one-sided, I know she hears me.  I will eventually write  about when Skylar spoke to me just a few days after the accident and after I had visited her in the basement of our funeral home. But this evening I have to tell you about the most amazing thing that happened just after I posted earlier today.

I finished my blog and got up from the computer to go and make dinner for the kids and just as I entered the kitchen my door bell rang. A neighbor that I barely know and only met after this tragedy was standing there with her daughter. Her daughter handed me the necklace (pictured above) and told me she saw it and had to buy it for me (in case you can’t read the necklace it reads: I love you more) .  I was too shocked to say much else but as soon as I closed the door I cried….I had asked Skylar for a sign and boy did I get one!

Thank you Skylar, mommy loves you more! And thank you to Amy and Sarah for being my angels this evening and you didn’t even know it.

 

How do I say goodbye?

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How do I say goodbye?

I’ve had so many thoughts in the last few days on how I say goodbye to my firstborn child. I know it’s not truly goodbye, but in this lifetime it is.  How do I say goodbye to a child that wasn’t sick, wasn’t suffering and who had so much more to give? From the bottom of my heart I thank every single one of you for your words of encouragement and reminders that Sky is so very happy where she is; but what do I do with this pain that I hold inside of me while I miss a daughter I was not ready to give back?

I keep searching my bible for scriptures that will help me and crying out to my God that I know has the only comforting touch that can possibly carry me through…..and while I find some momentary peace and happiness knowing that my Sky is forever safe…… the feeling doesn’t last long enough to give me rest.  Although our time on this earth is short in comparison to where our real home awaits, eternity with our Father, each second on this earth that passes without Skylar feels like an eternity. This is my biggest struggle, time seems to be standing still.

I struggle every day with those around me whose lives are carrying on, knowing that all of us deeply affected by this tragedy will never ever be the same. I said it before on my FB page and perhaps even in one of my previous blog postings, I feel so often as if there is a time cap on how long I am allowed to grieve.  I know as I sit here this afternoon, I will never be the same again and my grief will continue until the day I am reunited with my Skylar. This is not reflective of not trusting in my God, I know His plan will be revealed to me one day, but it IS reflective of a mother so brokenhearted that moving forward seems virtually impossible.

I pray that our 3 angels are smiling down on us and seeing just how enormous of an impact they have had on so many people.

God grant us strength and peace to carry on and wisdom to fulfill our purpose for you.  Amen.

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

In my arms where you belong

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In my arms where you belong

 

I feel I am failing all of you as I have no strength to share lately. 36 days later and I am in a darker place now than ever before.  Today has been an incredibly difficult day and the feeling of emptiness for my Sky-bird has overcome me with weariness. I see no conceivable end in sight for my sadness, and that scares me.

I’m angry today wondering how millions of people cheat death and live life on the edge and somehow make it out alive….yet my baby was doing everything right on the night she died…….and now we are all left trying to figure out how we can ever possibly go on.

I have feelings inside that I don’t even know how to deal with and feelings that equate to exploding anger and rage……anger for a life taken too soon and rage of a mother who desperately wants to hold her child in her arms again.

It’s simply killing me to look at my children suffering with sadness over  the loss of their sister, and to spend time with Skylar’s friends and boyfriend who are trying to make sense of their lives without these girls present.

My brain is a mess with confusion and frustration because there are no words that can possibly describe this sadness, emptiness, loneliness, anger, desperation, longing, weariness, depression, fear and grief that is all rolled into one and living inside of us. I’m terrified of my future and my children’s future without the presence of Skylar; terrified that we have all been destroyed beyond repair.

I posted the photo above because that is where I want my children — protected in my arms. I want to hold them and shield them…. and I simply cannot ever replicate this photo again. The reality that  a photo such as this can NEVER again be taken in this lifetime,  makes me cry out to God – “I NEED YOU NOW!!!”  There is no way in the world that I (or any of us ) can cope with a loss of this magnitude without God carrying us along.

I went to my Bible tonight and prayed for God to help me read something that would bring me any amount of  peace and this was what was before me. Simply a reminder that God’s plan is what matters, not mine, no matter how it leaves me feeling.

Job 3: 25-26:  What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil. 

Oh how I can relate to Job! Job was losing his perspective. My footnotes state that trials and grief, whether temporary or enduring, do not destroy the real purpose of life. Life is not given merely for happiness and personal fulfillment, but for us to serve and honor God. The worth and meaning of this life is not based on what we feel, but on the one reality no one can take away – God’s love for us.  Don’t assume that because God truly loves you, he will always prevent suffering. The opposite may be true. God’s love cannot be measured or limited by how great or how little we may suffer. Romans 8:38, 39 teaches us that NOTHING can separate us from God’s love.

I read that verse and my heavy heart and multitude of sadness still remains….but I am gently reminded that God IS in control and that once again we live in His world and under His purpose, not our own.

Please continue to pray for all families and friends that love and miss these girls so incredibly much…..and I pray that we all find our purpose and live it with meaning.

I love you more my sweet Sky……….

3 Crosses

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3 Crosses

Well my sweet child, we placed 3 crosses for 3 beautiful girls today at the crash site. I’m so happy  there is a daily reminder to everyone that passes, just how short and precious life is……I just wish it wasn’t my baby girl (and Soph and Juls) that had to be a part of this reminder.

Sky, I still can not believe that this has happened. I watched this afternoon as Anthony helped dig a hole for your memorial cross, and my heart sank. He should not be doing this for his girlfriend, as I should not be doing this for my daughter. I want you back Skylar and that is my plea to God daily…. “I want her back!!!!”  I know I can’t have what I ask for, but I’d give anything to hold you in my arms right now.

I stood at the crash site and thought “this is the last place that my Sky was alive, even if only for a brief moment, she was alive right here”……and for a moment I felt your presence.

I’m missing you beyond measure baby girl…….

Love you more…..

 

 

Prayers for my Alexyss Raine

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Prayers for my Alexyss Raine

I sat down this evening….or I guess it is now morning…..thinking I was going to write about how bittersweet my day was Christmas shopping , knowing there were no gifts to be bought for Skylar this year; no long list from her of books and movies she wanted and shoes she just had to have.

However, as I sat here I couldn’t get Lexy off my mind. My heart is so broken for my kids and the sister they lost way too soon. It was always important to me that Sky have a sister, I was so excited when I knew Lexy was a girl and that Sky would get her sister – her friend for life. I knew that even after I was gone they would always have one another. I sit here tonight in anguish and anger knowing that my Lexy not only lost her best friend Julianna, but also her best friend FOR LIFE – her sister, Skylar. How in the world is that fair to a 14 year old girl? I can deal with my pain and sadness but how does a young girl? I ask for prayers for Lexy specifically today and that God wraps His loving arms around her and gives her peace, comfort and understanding in her darkest hours.  I pray that she always feels Sky near her and that she knows Sky is always just a whisper away.

I know God has something amazing and huge planned for our lives and the lives of all Sky’s friends (and Soph’s and Jul’s too)…..there is no way these girls left a gaping hole the size of Texas in all of our hearts for no reason……. I’m seeking His purpose daily and I hope you will too.

Many of you have heard this song and I’m posting it now for my Lexy. This song was written by Blake Shelton about the older brother he lost in a car accident as a 14 year old teenager.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWtyj_l9WKM

Skylar, Lexy, Caden and Ashton: I love you more……..

My Worst Nightmare

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My Worst Nightmare

On November 1st, just 3 short days before the accident that claimed the life of not only my sweet Skylar, but also 2 other angels…..Sky and I discussed my fears via text, which we often did.  Skylar was indeed wearing her seat belt on the night that she died, but it simply wasn’t enough to save her. Sadly Skylar, Sophie and Julianna made the CDC numbers rise from 78 to 79, 80 and 81.

My mind is simply blown that my baby died in the very way that I feared she could. All parents fear for their kids safety while in cars but I had such a heightened sensitivity and fear for it, I simply can’t wrap my mind around God letting this be the way she was taken from us. Maybe the word “letting” isn’t the correct word…I’m trying very hard to not be angry with a God that I know IS love, and trying very hard not to question WHY he didn’t save these 3 beautiful girls in those wee hours of November 4, 2012.

I read through old text messages from Skylar and myself (thank God for iphones and that I never deleted our messages..ever!), and there was one dated October 26th and I am telling her that the roads are wet and I don’t want her out riding around with friends on wet roads….oh the irony…..

Anthony (Sky’s boyfriend) gave me a stack of letters tonight, to him from Skylar…..I managed to read the first 2 and then skipped to the very last one she wrote him dated October 23…..I could hear my babies voice as I tried to get through these letters and my heart somehow found MORE  pain and sadness. The carefree way she wrote and from the point of view of a 16 year old girl who loved life, friends and her boyfriend, was yet another bitter reminder that her life was taken way too soon.

32 days later and God must be protecting me from an utter meltdown because at times this still doesn’t feel real…..it’s insane to me that my body feels like it has been grieving for years and I am so exhausted mentally and physically; yet it feels like just yesterday she was sitting in the kitchen and laughing or yelling at Ashton to get out of her room!

However, 32 days later and I am realizing that I am living with a pain that will NEVER subside and realizing that when people ask “what can I do for you?”, there simply is NOTHING (besides prayer) that can be done…NOTHING will ease this pain and NOTHING will bring them back.

I am a problem/situation solver and I now have a problem/situation that simply can’t be solved. It’s like when you try to imagine eternity and how your brain can’t grasp just how long and forever eternity is; my brain simply can’t fathom how I will live with this pain nor can it comprehend spending the rest of my days on this earth without my Sky-bird.

Missing and loving you Skylar Lynn……today, tomorrow and always….love you more.

Thank you to a friend for sending me this song today…….

“Blessings” (by Laura Story)
We pray for blessings, we pray for peace

Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

http://youtu.be/4mmgV6mPvb0   (copy this link to hear the song)

 

31 days without you

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31 days without you

 

The stockings are hung 

By the chimney with care

In hopes that when I wake

You will be there.

Words are inadequate today. My heart is so full of pain and sadness. I fear I will never be whole again. I fear Lexy, Caden and Ashton will suffer….they have been robbed of their mom who was whole.

I miss you Skylar and my pain is unmeasurable. The rain today was so significant of all the tears I have shed since you went away.

Kisses to you, Soph and Juls….. you are all missed beyond measure.

Love you more…….

 

 

3 Angels

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3 Angels

 

The image above represents our new reality. Today I’m at a place where I don’t know whether to rejoice that these 3 beautiful girls are with their heavenly Father and enjoying eternity…..or to scream with madness that they were ripped away from us way too soon; never to turn 18, never to graduate, never to experience college, never to marry, never to become a mother……simply ripped from our lives.

The tears come often but they give no reprieve from the pain….and sometimes the pain is so intense there are no tears to be shed.

As I sat with them today, I became angry, angry that THIS is where I have to go to visit my daughter! I realize she is in my heart and is all around me…..but I am angry that I can’t reach out and hug her, angry that I can’t tell her I love her and hear her say “love you more”.  I’m angry that I am living my worst nightmare and angry that I prayed specifically for my children’s safety in cars! I’m angry that there is NO ending to this pain, the most I can ever hope for is that I learn to live again with the pain, that is as good as it is ever going to get for any of us.

The lyrics below are a song I listen to over and over (and many times while I lay with the girls at the grave site)…. it is my cry to God……..

“Need You Now (How Many Times)”

Well, everybody’s got a story to tell

And everybody’s got a wound to be healed
I want to believe there’s beauty here
So, I guess you’re tired of holding on
I can’t let go, I can’t move on
I want to believe there’s meaning here

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Standing on a road I didn’t plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I’m trying to hear that still small voice
I’m trying to hear above the noise

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Though I walk,
Though I walk through the shadows
And I, I am so afraid
Please stay, please stay right beside me
With every single step I take

How many times have you heard me cry out?
And how many times have you given me strength?

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

I need you now
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.
I need you now
I need you now

http://youtu.be/9ylnx0NA9X4  (copy this link to listen)

 

A Mother’s Love

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A Mother’s Love

I’ve been reading some on grief and trying to understand the stages that everyone speaks of. I’m learning that losing a child to something such as a car accident (unanticipated death) has affects such as PTSD; and the death notification plays into that as well.  I never would have thought to link PTSD to losing a child to an unexpected accident, but having lived this horrific nightmare for the last 30 days, that makes perfect sense to me. I know that there is simply no “easy” way to tell a parent or mother that their child has been killed in an accident, but I am certainly haunted by some of the aspects of Skylar’s notification. It’s something since the moment that authorities arrived at my door in the wee hours of Sunday November 4, 2012 that has rocked me to my core. I was robbed of hours that I could have and should have spent holding my child’s warm body. The outcome remains the same I realize, but as a mother every detail in this matters.

I’m barely a month into this tragedy and I still find myself thinking that this just can’t possibly be real. I look around at all of the friends that Sky (and Soph and Juls) have left behind and my heart feels a never ending pain. Skylar and Sophie had a tight group of friends and they all loved each other…watching all of them suffer in pain with the loss of their 2 best friends leaves a hole in this mother’s heart. Meanwhile my Lexy is trying to find her way in life again,without Skylar, the big sister she loved, adored and looked up to; without Sophie her sister by choice and without Julianna, her best friend in the world and her sister of the heart. The magnitude of pain that the death of these 3 girls has left in the lives of Skylar’s family, Julianna’s family, Sophie’s family and ALL of their friends, is simply a pain WITHOUT definition. The word pain does not even describe what we are feeling, and I am certain I speak for all of us when I say that.

This is what I struggle with; the pain is unmeasurable and completely indescribable, how in God’s name will any of us heal and find our “new normal?”  And I use the term “heal” very loosely here… there will NEVER be a true healing but I need a healing where I feel I can breath again.

I TRUST that God will hold all of us through our anguish, anger, questions and pain…..but to a grieving mom, the enormity of it all seems without end.

I’m writing this tonight because I want you all to know that I am not always so strong, nor are other grieving mothers (fathers, sisters, friends, family). The times that I have felt strong it is simply God carrying me through, because He surely knows I would have fallen.

I need to invent a word that describes this deep deep feeling of loss… if Sophie were here she’d come up with a really good goofy one and she’d say it in one of her crazy voices. 😉

To my friends that ask what they can do for me/us….send prayers, every single day. I can’t express enough,  I have no idea how I will get through the rest of my life without Skylar by my side, except with literally, one single step at a time.

I love you more Skylar Lynn…….and then some.

What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. – Helen Keller

 

Christmas with Jesus

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For the first time since you were born I put up my Christmas tree without any help from you.. even last year as a busy teenager you took time out of your evening and helped me hang ornaments. This year Joy and Alana and I worked on the tree (while the boys fought over who placed the star on top; as you can see nothing has changed here). Another first in this long road that we are traveling.

I have many ornaments on the tree for you, Sophie and Julianna. I found Brutus (our cat for those not familiar) messing with one that is for Sophie, I had to laugh and think “hey Sophie is here and totally messing with me right now!” It’s going to be one incredibly tough holiday season Sky.. not that every day is not already, but not buying presents for you my dear is going to rip my heart out.

I know wrapping them and placing the gifts under the tree without any for you will just be one more horrific reminder that you are not with us; not in the physical sense and in the sense that we all need you.  The amount of pain I am carrying around does not even seem humanly possible and moving closer to Christmas is making the days unbearable.

I have an ornament on my tree with the poem below written on it; grandma Terry gave it to me and it is a sweet and sad reminder of where you will be this Christmas and future ones as well. I know you, Soph and Julianna are going to have one rockin’ Christmas; i hope everyone throws Jesus an awesome party. I have no doubt that you girls will be the center of attention…try not to steal Jesus’ thunder — esp. you Sophie, try and keep it down – ha!

Missing you all, as always.

I see the countless Christmas trees
Around the world below,
With tiny lights like heaven’s stars
Reflecting in the snow.

The sight is so spectacular
Please wipe away that tear
For I’m spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
That people hold so dear
But earthly music can’t compare
With the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you
The joy their voices bring
For it’s beyond description
To hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me,
Trust God and have no fear
For I’m spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I can’t tell you of the splendor
Or the peace here in this place.
Can you imagine Christmas
With our Savior, face to face?

May God uplift your spirit
As I tell Him of your love
Then pray for one another
As you lift your eyes above.

So let your hearts be joyful
And let your spirits sing
For I’m spending Christmas in Heaven
And I’m walking with the king!

 

Dear Skylar,

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Dear Skylar,

Skylar, my heart is crying out for you. Dad and I went and picked out your headstone this afternoon and I left there with a knot in my stomach that will not go away. I am once again angry that I am making decisions like this!  I miss you so much and my world is closing in on me this evening. I’m crying for prayers for not only me, but for dad and everyone else affected by this. I love you baby girl and I need you. I have no idea how I am going to survive this pain.  Kisses to you, Soph and Julianna.

Love you more……..

My Angel

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My Angel

26 days without you…..I believe it is getting harder rather than easier. I think in cases such as these, time does NOT heal….time without you simply makes me ache for you more (as if that is even possible). I’ve thought a lot lately about the things people ask and say during times like these, and as most people realize there just simply are NO words that can ease this pain. I’ve caught myself a few times answering “fine” to the question “how are you doing?” However, more often than not I answer truthfully and simply say “not good”. I saw a friend of mine wearing a necklace at Skylar’s viewing that read “Due in March” and I remarked on it how that was such a cool idea; as a pregnant woman you get asked a million times “when are you due”?  It made me think that I wish I had a necklace or a shirt or flag to wave that simply mentioned how I was feeling or perhaps even warning people “back off, not a good day” – ha, I actually like that idea.

I’ve thought a lot today about all of the things Skylar will never get to experience, or I with her. We were planning college visits for this fall and Sky was adamant about Ohio State (where her dad and I attended) or Ohio University. Sky was definitely more set on OU and I was pushing in the other direction (as a scared mom for that crazy party school, ha!) The realization  that we will not get to experience those visits together has me utterly paralyzed with sadness. Also, the reality that Skylar will never get to have that college experience. There are a million things that I wont get to see Skylar do and experience and that realization alone is enough to bring me to my knees.

I then started thinking about all of the things in life that people take for granted (myself included). I know from November 4, 2012 on, my appreciation for even the smallest detail in life has changed. Of course directly after an accident and tragedy of this magnitude everyone says the same thing: “Hug your babies and loved ones extra tight tonight”….but I also see people forget that very soon and get busy with life again. I pray that my blog gets read and shared so that others are reminded DAILY that the people in your life are what matters. Not the car you drive, the house you live in, the vacation you are taking, the job you hold, the promotion you are seeking……but the people. Many times that realization comes way too late for people and their loved ones are already gone and they are left with a mound of guilt.

I loved my baby girl with all my heart and soul and I love the relationship that we had and the honesty and love that we shared. Sky was one special individual and not just because she was my daughter, more so because she simply loved her family and friends and lived every day in the moment.

God blessed me 4 precious babies…..I know that it is my job to return them to Him some day. I never dreamed that I would have to return Skylar so soon in life or even in my lifetime, but I thank Him for the 16 1/2 years he gave all of us with her.

“Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love” Lamentations 3:32

 

Lessons from a 16 year old

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Lessons from a 16 year old

Well today started out as a doozy for me. My alarm sounded at 6:05am to wake up Lexy for school and instantly my heart began racing and my mind was begging me not to start another day. Typically it’s at this hour that we would hear Skylar’s heavy footsteps running up the steps to beat Lexy to the shower (Skylar stomped like a Clydesdale  throughout the house; it was the family joke) and the silence in the hallway was deafening to me this morning. I instantly heard Skylar’s voice in my head saying nothing really specific but it was just the sweet sound of her…something I FEAR I will forget, her voice.  

Before I went to bed last night I decided to pull out the lock of hair that I had my funeral director cut for me. I hadn’t had the nerve to look at it yet. Her hair was the one thing I held onto at the viewing and funeral because it still felt like her; unlike her body that was cold and stiff and so very hard for me to touch, her hair was still very much her.  I looked at those locks last night and felt them between my fingers and I wept and ached like never before. It’s the only thing I have left of her in the physical sense; the one item that was a part of her humanly body form.

I then decided to finally google the accident, again something I had yet to do. I didn’t even watch the news when all of this was happening. I can’t believe that the news of this accident hit the AP; I found it every where from The Huffington Post to the Washington Post to Boston.com  Seeing my child’s name and photo (and Soph and Jul) splattered on all of these sites and papers was again a surreal moment and heart shattering at the same time. I believe to this day I am STILL in shock over this tragedy.

When I need to feel a certain closeness to Sky I go and hold her clothes from the night that she died. Just knowing that it is the last thing she wore and the last outfit she picked out brings me some odd sense of calmness. Sometimes I put her shoes on from that night and just feel them on my feet.

I have no real words of wisdom or comfort today; but I do feel the prayers coming through. I feel a sense of peace come over me just as I feel like my heart is going to leap from my chest and I know that is all of your prayers reaching me. THANK YOU to each and every one of you that have helped in ANY way throughout this tragedy and thank you for all of the prayers….keep them coming for me and my entire family and all of Skylar’s friends. So many of Sky, Soph and Julianna’s friends are struggling so deeply and my heart breaks for them, please keep each and every one of them in your prayers as well.

I know everyone’s lives must move on when ours is stuck in neutral…I’m trying not to be angry that my life (and those closest to Sky) will never fully move forward, but I pray that none of you forget the impact this tragedy has had on this small community nor forget that life is so very short and unpredictable, live each day to its fullest potential.

I’ve included a photo of one of Skylar’s favorite songs with this blog post and today I am taking a lesson from her….and she is telling me loud and clear: “Mom, don’t think twice, it’s alright.”

 

 

 

 

One Day at a Time

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One Day at a Time

I’m sitting here this afternoon feeling at a loss for words. I have so many thoughts and feelings that run through my mind continually,  but when I sat to type today,  I have one thought that just keeps coming to the surface. November 4, 2012 was not the day that my daughter and her friends died, it is the date that should be remembered as the birth of their new everlasting life; their new birth date. My mind is blown hourly that I (and the other families involved) am making the types of decisions that I have had to make in the last 24 days. My mind is blown that tomorrow Skylar’s dad and myself are going to look at headstones for our oldest baby. My mind simply won’t wrap itself around the finality of her life ending on this earth;  call it a survival mechanism, call it God. Tate and Zack told us the story that just seconds after the crash there was an unusually bright light that filled up the entire cab of the truck; we are all comforted in knowing that that was our God coming for these 3 beautiful souls, to take them home.  I’ve told many of you that I am haunted by so many aspects of this horrific accident and no mother (or parent) should ever have to endure what we have and my heart has always broken for those that have (even before this accident).  I’m haunted by the 3 men at my door in the middle of the night and the softness in their eyes and voice as they asked to be let inside.  I’m haunted by them asking to see a photo of Skylar and my brain not working with my hands to even know how to work my phone to show them. I’m haunted by them telling me that it wasn’t just my baby that was killed but when they named Skylar’s best friend Sophie and my Lexy’s best friend Julianna, my world seemed to come crashing in on me. I am living my worst absolute nightmare. I have text messages that I will post on here in coming days between Skylar and myself that are dated November 1st and we are discussing my fear of car accidents and my kids.  It’s eerie for me to read them knowing just 3 days later my daughter was one of those statistics.  At times I feel like I am living some sad lifetime movie or reading a fiction novel; the impact this has had on our community and ourselves personally is overwhelming to say the least. No parent should have to bury a child, but the tragedy and suddenness and 3 lives lost in a split second, is at times unbearable and I simply can’t even make myself get out of bed to start my day. I TRUST and have FAITH that God has these beautiful souls by His side and our time on earth is so very temporary, and we WILL be reunited again……however, this does not ease my pain of hurt, sadness, loneliness and yes even anger. I was telling a good friend last night that I’ve always hoped to live to a ripe old age and watch all of my children grow old as well. I am now ready for this life and world to be over;  this world is so cruel and unfair that I am ready for Jesus to take all of his children home. I don’t want to live another 50 years on this earth without my Sky-bird by my side….my mind won’t even let me fathom a year without her let alone 50.   My prayer for each and every one of you is that you live your lives so that you see these 3 beautiful girls again, make each day count and never ever forget them.  They loved life and their friends and families so much that they deserve to be remembered each and every day. They left a huge footprint in the short time they were all here and I’ve seen lives changed dramatically in the last 24 days, including my own. I have more love in my heart than I can even explain, in a time that I should be filled with resentment, anger and bitterness, I see myself looking at everything differently and I mean everything.  I always told people that Skylar and I were so much alike it was scary — our personalities are eerily similar. The connection and closeness that Skylar and I had is what my heart and soul is crying for right now. I find myself starting to text her something so funny or something that she would typically be the first person I’d tell and then quickly realize I can no longer do that. But what I can do is live my life in honor of her (and Soph and Juls)  EVERY single day.  Skylar had so much love in her heart for her friends and Skylar had friends from ALL walks of life. She was not your typical 16 year old girl that has to be with the “in or cool” crowd; she literally had friends of all colors, races, economic backgrounds, ages, sex etc.  She inspires me to be the same way.  Love you more baby girl.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5

 

Signs from above

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Signs from above

Many of you have followed my posts on FB, I apologize now if you have to re-read some of the same. I will probably re-post many of my FB messages, as they help to tell this story somewhat. This photo attached was taken at the cemetery 11/26/12 while I laid with the girls and played music for them. I snapped this photo of the beautiful sky and didn’t look at it again until later in the evening after I was home. I was amazed to see 3 crosses in the trees to your left and a very definite angel in the clouds in the top right corner. God is surely giving me many signs that my baby, Sophie and Julianna are right by His side and safe for eternity. Although this doesn’t ease my (our) pain of missing our babies more than life itself, it certainly gives me a peace and comfort to know they are with their true Father and one whose love surpasses my own.  I continue daily to look for small signs of comfort from our God above and I thank Sky, Soph and Jules for opening my eyes wider than they have ever been and for learning to appreciate the small things in life.  They have also taught me to be still and listen; God gives us signs every day of his presence and everlasting love; if you just open your heart and eyes. I love you Skylar, Sophie and Julianna and there won’t be a day that you are not in my thoughts and heart.

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

Skylar Kooken Memorial Fund

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Skylar Kooken Memorial Fund

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Contributions are accepted at any Fifth Third Bank location.

A Place to Talk…

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A Place to Talk…

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