Thursday, February 28, 2013

Checking In

Still here. Still making it.

I have had some hard days this week, and some days that were sort of okay.  Ups and downs and all that jazz.

 I am pouring a lot of my time, energy and brain power into getting caught up with my classes.  Midterms are next week, and taking over two weeks off of a grad level biostatistics is one of those things that may not be highly recommended, especially for the full time working mom.  But my professors have both been AMAZING and since I seem to find a little comfort in the feeling of being really busy, it is all working out.   I know that my brain is different from most peoples, but working out the answer to a really complicated math problem is exactly what I need sometimes to make myself feel better :) 

It is strange how this grief sneaks up on you.  You fear it, and then it's here and you think "This is different than I thought... I can live with this".  And you do.  You go on living, but then you start to crack, the numbness starts to wane, and you are left with this deep, heartbreaking ache in your chest which has you questioning again if you can survive this, because yes it is different than you thought, but it is still pretty damn awful.

But I am surviving it, it is just taking time, and it is taking me not obsessing about how I will live with it tomorrow or next week or next year.  I am just taking each day as they come, because it is as good as I can do for now. I can survive this minute without her, I can survive this hour. I am letting myself cry when I need to, which is turning into more and more.  I am talking to her a lot.  At first in my head, then I worried she might not hear that, so I started talking out loud.  And that is hard too, but in a strange way it makes it feel more real, and it makes me feel better... once I become accustomed to each days heartbreak. 
Sweet Missy

So yeah. I am here. I am making it. We are doing... okay. A day at a time.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Something Different

I was feeling a little unsure about exactly how and when to talk about anything besides Missy on here.  I know I will talk about her lots over the months and years to come, but clearly at some point I will also start to talk about other things along side my heartbreak.  I knew someday it would feel okay to change the subject, but I wasn't sure when that would be, or even how to start an 'old normal' post.  Then, the other day, while I was loading the dishwasher, I heard Henry singing while he was playing in the living room.  I walked in to listen closer, just to be sure I heard him correctly. And yep. It was what I thought.
"Who let the dogs out? WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! WHO LETS THE DOGS OUT!"** But you all, it wasn't to the right tune at all.  Like, I know you are thinking it sounded like this.  When in reality it was to the tune of like, a nursery rhyme, or maybe just to the tune of nothing at all.  Completely to his own little random beat.

 So I thought I would maybe, someday, post about it.  But I wanted you to hear his version.  So this weekend I asked him to sing it so I could video him. And instead of his own personal non-musical beat, I got this version of "Who Let the Dog's Out"

And you guys, this tickles me so much.  Like, deep down in my heart.  His monotone singing of who let the dogs out... the way he almost looks board. "Who? Who? Who?" *giant sigh*

I could watch it a million times and it would never stop being funny.  And I know Missy would have loved it.  So it seemed right to go ahead and post it.  Because we are here, still moving forward.  And somethings, things are really funny (at least funny to me... this might not be funny to anybody else.  I totally see that)  and laughing is good.
He's so hard core...

** I feel the need to add here that I seriously have NO IDEA how he knows the words to 'Who Let the Dog's Out'.  (WHO?? WHO? WHO?) .  I guess they dance to it at daycare?  I guess??  I just felt the need to mention that this isn't a song we commonly have on in the background at our house... you know... in case you were curious.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Two Weeks

I can't believe it's been two weeks since we lost her.
Sweet Missy
 I can't believe I wont see her again on this side of eternity.
Sweet Missy
 I can't believe how I can't believe it, even though we knew what was coming. But then again, how do you prepare yourself for something like this?
Sweet Missy
Yesterday we went to a service Missy's work held for her.  It was really nice.  And somehow there is comfort is seeing how much she was loved.
Sweet Missy
I may not be grieving as much with tears, but my body is grieving hard.  This cough I have had since the hospital seems to be actually my inability to catch my breath.
Sweet Missy
 My chest hurts, like my heart is actually breaking.  I am not sleeping, I am just thinking...and missing her.
Sweet Missy
I have realized how much I am avoiding people.  I have  a digital stack of emails and messages that I read, then just close without replying.  I am not seeing people or talking to people beyond texting.  I just... am not up for it.  Not just yet.
Sweet Missy
In a lot of ways, although my mind knows she is gone, my heart seems to be so sure she is just not here with me right this second.  She is at her apartment, or maybe out of town, but definitely not gone.  Not GONE gone.
Sweet Missy
I just don't know.  Good days, bad days.  Today is shaping up to be a bad day.  Because we are at two weeks, and that doesn't sound that long... but it already feels way to long to have had to go without hugging my sister. 


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thoughts, Thanks, Random Bits of Grief

So... hello.

How are you?

I am fine. okay. numb. I have no idea no idea how I am.

It's all strange.  I couldn't stop crying during our days in the hospital.  I cried a lot the weeks before that too.  I cried at work, I cried at home, I cried in bed at night.  I was terrified of how I would survive after she was gone.  I was terrified of what losing her would be like.  And now, I feel like my tears are dry.  Not that I don't still cry, because I do, but not like before.  And I don't know how to feel about that.

I read a book from hospice and it said there are three kinds of grievers, there are the ones that cry all the time, the ones that cry when they are alone, and the ones that don't cry because they keep themselves too busy.  I guess I fall into the later category.  But I keep waiting for this dam to break.  These emotions to come flooding in.  And then I worry I am doing this wrong.  Is  there a wrong way? The book says their isn't.  That it is all normal, that I will deal with my feelings in time. 

Sometimes I feel the cracks.  The tightening in my chest, the inability to catch my breath, but still I can stand there and talk about our final days, and the tears do not come.  Not really, not in full force.  Will they?  I feel oddly at peace with what has happened.  I miss her, oh god I do.  But I feel we did the best we could, she did the best she could, and now she is free, she is healed and whole, and that we will be together again someday.  I feel her with me, I feel her strength.  And I do cry for her, and honestly I cry for me.  I cry for my loss, because I am suffering, but she isn't anymore.  And there is a peace in that.

Or I am just still really numb.


We laid her ashes to rest yesterday, just our immediate family and the minister.  We surrounded her with letters, music, paintings from the babies, things that she loved.  Not that she needs those things now, but it felt right to leave them with her.  It was sad, and it was perfect.  And I cried then, because I miss her so much already.


I am overwhelmed with the love and support that has been shown to me and our entire family these last few weeks. Family and friends rallying around us. The food that has been dropped off, at Missy's house in the weeks before we were in the hospital,  at the hospital, at our homes after, and at the service on Saturday; it has been so wonderful.  The beautiful flowers, the cards, the constant flow of love, prayers, and support has been such a gift.  My inlaws have been amazing, like always, but they never fail to make me feel so lucky to be a part of their incredible family.  My work and my masters program have shown up with flowers, cards, and in person to hug me, say they love me, that they are thinking of me, that they are here. 

And then there is you, amazing Internet readers.  I have been so touched by the outpouring of love and support.  Through comments and emails, and also through flowers being delivered to my house in the days immediately following our loss:
In the mix of cards from local family and friends, I am finding ones daily from friends I have made here, through Bio Girl and the infertility community.  Friends from all over the US and the world.  Amanda and Tim sent an amazing gift, a kit for growing a red oak tree, one that has been started already in our house, and will move outside this spring.  A constant reminder of our beloved Missy. And I specifically mention the online community and their support, not because it meant more that the outpouring of love from our local family and friends, but because it meant as much.  Because you are true friends, no matter how we met our where you live. And I am so grateful to have you all as part of my life.  So thank you.


I went back to work on Monday.  It is hard there, back in the real world.  But I am doing my best to take it a day at a time.  And when a day feels like too much, I slow it down and take an hour, or even a minute at a time.  And I know my Missy is helping me to remember that. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

More From Missy's Service

I wanted to share with you a few other details of Missy's service yesterday. One of her best friends wrote a beautiful tribute to her, which she read during the service. You can read it over on Mandy's blog.

I also wanted to share with you the photo montage we made to play during her service.  We had a slide show of over 400 pictures playing during the visitation, plus there were pictures printed and out in frames and collage boards all over the chapel. This slide show is just a few of our favorites, set to one of Missy's favorite songs. It was healing to look at all these pictures over the last week, and we wanted people to truly see what an amazing life our Missy packed into her thirty years. 

I know I keep saying it, but truly, thank you for all of the amazing support you are giving our family. I do not think we could survive this alone.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Celebration of Missy's Life: Our Family's Eulogy of our Sweet Melissa

Today we had the service to celebrate our sweet Melissa. I will talk more about these days and weeks in the future. I will talk about the amazing people and the incredible love that has been poured over our family. But for tonight, I just wanted to post the words I wrote, with the help of my family, for Missy. This was read during her service by my wonderful Aunt Donna. It does not capture Missy, but I think it honors her. If you were not able to be with us today, but were there in heart and spirit, this is for you.  I will post the photo slideshow set to music we played during today's service as well. Most likely tomorrow, once I have a chance to upload it to youtube.

Thank you all for your continued loved and support.  It means more than words can say.


There are no actual words that exist that can tell you of our family’s love for Missy.  There are no stories I can write that will truly capture her magic, but magic is exactly what she was.  She possessed a power of making those she loved feel special.  She made you feel important.  She listened and really heard what you said.  She gave the best hugs, somehow making it feel as if she was wrapping you in love. She was fun, and oh, was she funny.  She was feisty, and would defend those she loved to the bitter end.  She loved music and to dance.  She loved her friends and her family so fiercely that we could use that love as a supporting structure to define who we are.  Missy held those around her up with her love and loyalty.  She had the ability to make you feel better than you are, just by being loved by her. 

When Missy was little she would do things to make sure we noticed her.  I am sure that comes along with being the baby of the family, but at the time it can drive a sister crazy.  I remember when we would be eating bowls of ice cream around the table; she would eat hers as fast as she could so she could go play.  When she was done, she would jump up and dance around and say “I’m done fir-rst! I’m done Fir-rst!”  After a few times of being taunted with being too slow of ice cream eaters it became a race.  All three of us bound and determined to take the top spot.  When finally the day came that I finished first, I jumped up and said “I’m done!  I AM DONE FIRST!”  I was prepared to bask in the glory of finishing my ice cream at what was honestly an unenjoyable and alarming pace.  I thought she would gracefully admit her defeat, but instead she looked at me and sang “I have Mo-re, I Have Mo-re!” There was no beating Missy.  Either way, she won.

It was around Missy’s middle school years that the three sisters truly began to change to being best friends.  We were always close.  I remember from a young age our mom telling us again and again how lucky we were to be given sisters, that they would forever be our closest friends.  That we would always be together, that we could always depend on each other, than nobody would ever know us better than our sisters.  And as Missy started middle school we started to realize it was true.  We didn’t just love each other as sisters; we loved each other as friends. The three of us would pile on the couch, watching hour after hour of Road Rules marathons or beloved movies like Dirty Dancing or Sister Act 2… we had great taste, obviously.  As we grew we loved going places together.  First around town, like when she begged me to take dad’s truck to McDonalds the first day I got my license, only to have me knock the keys out of the ignition at a four way stop and have them fly under the seat.  I had to climb out and search for them, holding up a huge line of traffic, all while she just sank lower and lower in the passenger seat so nobody would see her.  As we grew we took trips everywhere together.  Every trip could be made better by including our sisters.  We went to Vegas, New York, South Carolina, and Washington DC; we went to cabins, to shopping outlets, to the beach, we didn’t really care where we were going.  We just loved being together.

Of all of the places we went together, Pensacola beach will always and forever be our families second home.   Oh, how Missy loved it there.  The memories those beaches have given our family are priceless.  From the first trips when she was tiny, visiting with our Great grandmother, dancing on the deck with our cousins; to trips as teenagers, full of music and sun and maybe a few boys; trips with just her and our parents, her and mom antiquing together, her and Dad watching movies; to our trip this past year when we were back again, surrounded by the babies, showing them the beach that we have loved for so long.  Aunt Mimi, out helping the babies build their sand castles and chanting “kick! Kick! Kick!” while she helped teach Henry to swim in the pool. Pensacola was in her soul, and it is even more in ours now.  White sands, sun, memories together. We are so grateful for those moments.

Our family grew close through family vacations, but also through our weekly family night dinners.  We started the tradition when Missy was in elementary school, setting aside one night a week to just be together.  To laugh, talk and listen.  To really take the time to know what is going on in each other’s lives.  It was wonderful when we were young, and it was a tradition that still continues to this day. But for Missy, commonly one night of family a week was simply not enough. She needed more. She would call and see what we were doing, commonly joining someone in the family for dinner several nights a week, just because she loved being with us.  She took the time and effort to have very special and personal relationships with each member of our family.  Mom, Dad, Boo, Me, Nick, Chris, Henry and Darcy.  She loved each one of us so much. Individually.  Uniquely.  She loved us for exactly who we truly are. And she showed that love daily by always being around us. By taking an interest in the things we were interested in.  By telling us every single time we were together how much she loves us, how lucky she feels to be a part of this family.  When in reality, we were the ones that were so lucky, so incredibly blessed, to have her.

In 2008, after graduating from Sullivan University, Melissa began working in Cancer Research at Central Baptist Hospital.  It was a field she was so proud to be working in.  It was amazing to see how that pride in herself and her work helped her to become such a confident and amazing adult.  We had always treated Missy as the baby, and she embraced that role, but with this career change she felt her life was truly and completely under her control, and she loved where it was going. She made amazing and loyal friends while at Central Baptist, friends that would help her through the struggles of the last two and half years.  We are so thankful for the Cancer Research team.  Both for them seeing the potential in Melissa and bringing her on to their team as an employee, and for the amazing care and support they gave her during her battle with cancer.  We will forever be grateful to them, as well as to the National Institute of Health, for the quality time they gave us with our sweet Melissa over these last two and a half years.

The day Missy’s nephew Henry was born in 2009 Missy cried.  It was an emotional day, and we all cried, so it wasn’t unusual.  But the funny thing with Missy was that she kept crying.  Every single time she spoke of him for his first two weeks of life, she would be overcome with love and just tear up.  Every time she would say “I just love him so much, I can’t help but cry.”  The love was overwhelming her.  The love tied to this new little life, no matter how she wanted to celebrate, she found herself constantly overflowing with tears.  Missy’s heart was overflowing again when her niece Darcy joined the family in 2010.  Although Missy was battling headaches at the time, she made the journey with the family to be there to celebrate Darcy’s arrival.  Oh how Missy loved our Doodle-bug. I think of all the family, Missy truly saw a piece of herself in our Darcy. And I think we will always see that piece of Missy in our sweet baby girl.  

Once the babies started walking and talking our Missy became their Aunt Mimi.  Aunt Mimi was such a wonderful Aunt.  After she stopped working, she decided she would babysit each baby one day a week, just to be sure she got that quality one on one time to really know them.  They both loved this time so much.  Later in the week, after Aunt Mimi’s day, Henry would ask me “Mama, Can we play Play-doh?”  Or “Mama, Can we play Michael Jackson Dance Party?” and I would say “No baby, I am busy”, and he would always reply “Oh…Only Aunt Mimi do dat?”  He knew if he wanted to do something fun, the most likely candidate to ask was Aunt Mimi.  The park, the mall, a dance party, Aunt Mimi would always want to do that.  Henry and Darcy’s loss of their Aunt Mimi will be felt for their entire lives.  And forever we will have to try to fill those shoes, of the amazing Aunt Mimi.  She will make us better parents, because we will now try to mirror her desire to enjoy every second of life with them.  

I believe in your life, if you are lucky, you touch a few people’s lives deeply.  Not just as a friend or an acquaintance, but as a true kindred spirit.  Your relationship grows into one where you own a piece of each other’s heart.  Parents have it with young children, and if they are lucky, they hold on to it as the children grow into adults.  Some siblings have it, some spouses, some friends.  Missy had more kindred spirits in her life than anyone I have ever known.  Truly.  The lives she has touched, the pieces of hearts she shared, it’s incredible.  The love in this room for our sweet Melissa… the hearts that are missing a piece… she is an inspiration to us.  How to be a friend, a sister, how to be an aunt and a daughter;  Missy knew the answer.  She went in with her full heart.  She supported us, and she loved unconditionally.    

Melissa was one of the most faith filled people I have ever known.  These last few years she relied so heavily on prayer that in the hospital it became a comforting joke for our family.  When one of us would be overwhelmed with this difficult road ahead, overcome with sorrow for a future without our Missy, we would tell each other again and again, “Missy would tell us to pray about it”.  And she would. She would want us to lay our troubled and broken hearts at His feet.  She would want us to embrace that she is in a better place, a place with no cancer and no heartbreak.  She would want us to pray for peace in our own hearts, because her heart is full.  It is complete in the Lord, and she is singing and rejoicing in heaven. And if we know our sweet Missy, she is up in heaven right now, looking down on us, dancing and saying “I’m in heaven fir-rst, I’m in heaven fir-rst!”.  And there is no question, this time Missy wins.  She beat us all to paradise.  How lucky heaven are to have her there. How lucky we will someday be to meet her again.  But for today we can’t help but cry.  We just love her so much.  And some of the tears are of joy and of love, like the tears she couldn’t control when Henry was born.  But many are of heartbreak, because from now until the day we are together again, we will miss our sweet Missy so very much.  But we know in our hearts that she will always be with us, everywhere we turn, every place we go, forever and always.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Baby Steps

Last night at 8pm Nick, Henry and I ran to CVS to look at the picked over Valentine selection.  Tucked in the back, hidden behind the generic 3D dogs and unicorns was one last box of Angry Bird Valentines. We bought  them, along with some heart shaped Nestle Crunch candy, and considered his school party officially prepared for.

Our family is doing okay.  Not great, not good, but definitely in the land of okay.  We realized yesterday that to the outside world we might be starting to worry some people.  We have not really emerged from the family cocoon.  We did a small family gathering last Sunday, and since then, it has just been us and the ministers. We are planning her service, which will be Saturday.  We didn't want any event on Valentines Day, and since Missy had decided to be cremated we had some time, so we waited a full week.  It is the best decision we could have ever made. We have looked at pictures, spent time together, cried, laughed, prayed, and I think when Friday and Saturday get here we will be ready to celebrate her amazing life.

And then I think the grieving will change.  In a way it will be harder, when we go back to work and life.  When we have to accept that not everyone will think of nothing but her all of the time.  That life keeps going.  The weeks to come will be difficult.  The years to come will be difficult.  Nothing will ever be the same.  But I think we are ready to start taking the baby steps out into what comes next.

I scanned some pictures yesterday.  She was so beautiful. Sweet Missy
God, I miss her so much already.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Holding On

Sweet Missy
We are holding on. Somehow. There are no words for the gaping absence that is now in our life. And while I know I am grieving, and I am heartbroken, I am also afraid.  I am afraid because I can tell the numbness that is still here.  I can tell the way my body is protecting me from the magnitude of this loss.  I know that our family has locked ourselves up together to mourn and have not had to step out and look at the real world.   I know that will hit me fully, eventually.  When the planning is done, when the service is complete, an I am left here without my sister.

For now, I am holding on.  I am still breathing, and I am trying to do what she would want, which is to take care of our parents, to keep living, and to enjoy our life.  I am going to try, but I just don't know how without my Missy.

We have set the arrangements, I have written her obituary, we will celebrate her amazing life.  Because it was incredible, and it is worth celebrating.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Our Sweet Missy

Our sweet Melissa Rae passed away peacefully last night after a two and a half year courageous battle with brain cancer. Our family was with her, surrounding her with love. We know she will always be with us. We are completely heartbroken. Thank you for your prayers, love and support. I will post arrangements here when they are made. Please share this with anyone who loved our Sweet Missy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

An Update on Missy

The last few weeks have had major changes for our sweet Missy. The past weekend brought new heartache with her mostly losing the ability to communicate with us and fighting constant focal seizures. Yesterday we were at the point of needing to have help from the hospital to fight the seizures, so an ambulance came to take  her to the local hospice hospital.

Yesterday was very challenging, but around 3pm we got her seizures under control and she was finally able to rest. She has now been sleeping for a little over 24 hours. We don't know what each day will bring. We hope she wakes up, we hope to take her back home, but what we hope for most is peace for our sweet Melissa.

I wanted you to know we are here. I know your prayers, good thoughts, and support will give our family comfort. Missy has lived a faith filled life for many years. She relies heavily on prayer, and we are at peace with whatever is to come. But this heartbreak is so difficult for us all. Your loves prayers and support just help to lighten that load.