Tuesday, December 11, 2012

To: Girl, Age 3

This Sunday we celebrated Christmas with you.

Just like last year, your Donna Ma felt like it was important to do something special during the holidays in a way to honor you.  Last year we used this day to thank the many special people who helped us get through the first full year without you.  This year, we thought we could make it even more purposeful by having a little Christmas gathering.

With love and joy-filled hearts, everyone brought a toy or clothing item meant for a child who is the same age you would have been this Christmas.  From baby dolls to puzzles, books to pajamas, a whole table was filled. Even Santa came to surprise the kids with candy canes and an open lap to share their special Christmas wishes.

After Santa headed off, Mommy, Donna Ma, and lots of family and friends began work as his little helpers in the basement wrapping and sorting all the gifts brought in your honor.  Angel Tree tags cinched big bags filled with the Christmas wishes of two little 3-year old girls. Other gifts were tagged with the names of little girls from Northern KY and Georgetown.  The rest were labeled with the age and gender that matched the gift inside.  These were going to be dropped off at the Home of the Innocence in Louisville. 

As the final gifts were tagged, your Donna Ma asked for all of them to be labeled "From: Kaden".  Mommy quickly volunteered to take on this job.  Mindlessly, Mommy began writing your name on the first few gifts.  After the third or fourth, Mommy began to get a little emotional.  It had been so long since I had written your name. With every "K" Mommy wrote, I could feel more and more tears well up in Mommy's eyes.  With every gift Mommy labeled from you came a mix of emotions - sadness, then joy.  Sadness - that these may have been the things you would have enjoyed as a little 3-year old.  Joy - that these few little girls may have their Christmas wishes come true because of you.  

This Sunday we celebrated Christmas with you. Even though you were not with us physically, your little life was honored in such a big way. Moments like these bring healing and peace to all of us who miss you so dearly.

Mommy loves you sweet girl...

Sunday, November 11, 2012


When you were just 9 months old Mommy and Daddy took you on your first little weekend trip to Nashville, TN.  Nashville is one of the many places Mommy and Daddy still go every year for Daddy's teams.

Just a year earlier, when you were in Mommy's belly, we were there.  I remember walking up and down those city streets.  At six months pregnant, Mommy felt winded at times from the baby weight.  Mommy sure slept well that night after walking up and down those hills. 

The next November, when you came with us, the weather was sunny and warm. It was a perfect weekend for making sweet memories as a little family. Even though Daddy had to work, there was a little time in between his schedule to do some fun things.  It was nice walking you in your stroller up and down the strip.  I felt as winded as the year before pushing you around, but loved every minute of it.  We would stop to listen to the music and at one little place we even got you to take a little catnap. That was very rare for you since you loved your bed so much!

I loved playing with you outside the center where Daddy's event was being held.  There was the perfect little grassy area just out front near some trees.  The fall leaves laid all around you.  You were so smiley and full of joy.  You loved being outside and around all the people.  That little spot was special.

The next year, after you were gone, Mommy went with Daddy again to Nashville. I thought for sure that since I had been there so many times before, it wouldn't be a problem for Mommy to hold it together. 

Just like always, Daddy had to be at the event much earlier than Mommy.  Just like before, Mommy planned to meet Daddy to watch his teams.  As Mommy walked the few blocks from the hotel to the center, memories of you came rushing back.  The closer I got, the more tears welled up in Mommy's eyes.  Just like all the times before, Mommy tried her best to hold back the flood of tears. 

As Mommy entered the building and walked to the main area to watch Daddy's teams, flashbacks of the year before pushing you around in your stroller came streaming back. To escape the rush of emotions, Mommy walked out front to get away from all the people.  Mommy didn't want anyone to see her cry. 

Mommy walked quickly out the front of the building. Some of the girls from Daddy's teams were taking pictures with their teammates. Behind them, Mommy saw the little patch of grass that we played on before.  This time, Mommy couldn't hold back the tears.  As fast as Mommy's legs would carry her, I walked as far away from the crowds as I could. 

Mommy found a quiet step to sit on and cried.

This past weekend, Mommy and Daddy went back to Nashville.  While Daddy had been there the year before, this was Mommy's first trip back.  This visit was so much different than Mommy's last.  This time Mommy had a little piece of you...your little sister, Layne. 

We stayed in the same hotel with the same "sweet dreams" pillows you once laid your head on.  Mommy walked Layne in her stroller on the same streets and watched with the best kind of joy imaginable as Layne ran and played on the same little patch of grass you once enjoyed.  To Mommy, these are the most precious moments I still have with you. They can never be taken away. Even though they are just memories, Mommy is so glad to have them and thankful to be able to enjoy them again.

Love you baby girl...
Kaden ~ 9 months - Nashville, TN

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Week We Never Had...

It's the 11th again and just like everyday I think of you.  I think of the conversations we might have if you were here.  I think of the little things we would do.  I think of the memories I would have expected to make with you this fall.  You would have been over 3 and a half years old.

I remember when you passed away people would ask how old you were.  I would always say you were one day shy of 17 months. To me it was a big deal that you were almost 17 months. 

I always made the 11th of each month a big deal so that you would know how special you are to us.  That's why I write to you still. On your last day, your Donna Ma and I made plans to have lunch after church the next day to celebrate your 17 month birthday.  Your Donna Ma had your outfit all ready for you to wear the next day.  We never, in a million years, imagined that we would never get that day.

Ever since you passed, I decided that it was in God's plan for Mommy and Daddy not to be with you that night. We knew and still know that if anyone loved you and cared for you as we did it was your Donna Ma. Mommy believes that having her love on you and take care of you when you weren't feeling well was part of God's plan, too. She did all the things we would have done and then some. 

When Mommy heard the news about you through Daddy's phone conversation that night, I was hysterical. Mommy hates that your Donna Ma and Papa had to endure the pain of being there when you passed. Mommy, even to this day, cannot fathom how traumatic that must have been for them. Mommy believes that was God's way of protecting Mommy and Daddy from the most traumatic memories.  As hard of a time it has been for your Donna Ma and Papa to heal from the memories of that night, Mommy is forever grateful that they were able to protect us from it.  God knew that Mommy and Daddy couldn't bare that kind of pain.

On Monday Layne turned 17  months old.  Sunday night, as I laid her down for bed, I gave her an extra big hug.  It was difficult not to think about what it would have been like to have laid you down for the last time. That night Mommy cried thinking about the events of your last night.

For weeks I had anticipated this time. As strangers would ask Layne's age I would think of you as I would respond "She'll be 17 months of the 8th".  It felt like I was asked a hundred times.  Every single time I thought of you and imagined for a moment what I would have done had I known that we wouldn't see 17 months with you. 

This is the week we never had with you.  Everyday from here on out with Layne will be a completely new experience for Mommy and Daddy.  In some way that makes Mommy sad.  It reminds me that our time with you has run out.  In a another way it makes me happy. Perhaps Mommy will have a glimpse into what life would have been like with you.

Until we see you again in heaven, we love you sweet Kaden Layne...
Kaden in May 2010. She would have worn this outfit on her 17 month birthday.

Layne at 16 months.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Choice

Hi Sweet Baby Girl,

Mommy finds it funny to call you a baby girl sometimes. As Layne grows day by day, I can only imagine how much of a big girl you would have been by now.  We smile thinking about how much Layne would have loved to have you.  We sure miss you.

This weekend Mommy, Daddy, and Layne spent some time in Louisville.  We visited with Papaw, Missy, and Aunt Keshia.  Watching Layne play in the same backyard you once played as a 16 month old brought back many sweet memories of your last visit.  From behind, you would never know Layne wasn't you.  Her hair bounces off her tiny shoulders just like yours once did.  Her smile gets as big as ever when she's at the peek of her ride on Papaw's big swing. 

You and Mommy made lots of memories together at Papaws that last time we were there.  We sat together under Mommy's favorite tree and shared ice cream from the Dairy Delight up the street.  Those were extra sweet times. Mommy remembers doing those same things when she was a little girl living there.

This time when we visited we happened to visit the sweet neighbors next door - Wilma and Horace.  Every year Mommy visits them at least once just to say hi.  They were special to Mommy as a little girl.  Mommy used to play at their house when their grandsons were in for a visit.  You even got to meet them once.  I'm glad.

This time when we visited Wilma she shared that a dear friend of hers had lost her granddaughter just a week ago.  She happened to be there and Mommy was able to meet her and the Mommy of that sweet little girl.  Perhpas you have met her by now.  I sure hope so.

As Mommy talked with the mother of that little girl, my heart ached for her.  In our few exchanges of words, I could feel her sadness and fresh grief. The same emotions that Mommy has spent two years tucking away felt fresh again just for a moment.   Mommy said a prayer for that little girl's mother.

At the end of my brief conversation with that little girl's mother, I remember saying "You can find joy again someday."

Losing you has certainly been the most profound and devistating event Mommy and Daddy hope to ever experience.   Those minutes and hours and days after you passed away were the most gut-wrenching, heartbreaking days of Mommy and Daddy's lives. 

At your funeral Mommy remembers asking the mother of another child who had passed unexpectedly if I would ever feel normal again.  In the most gentle way possible she replied "You'll always feel like something is missing." 

That mother was right.  Any mother who has expereinced the loss of her child no matter what way, always wonders.  Just like Mommy, there is all those times you wonder what it would have been like and how life would have been changed if there wasn't a piece missing. 

Mommy has learned that everything in this life was not intended by God to be perfect at all times. No matter how much Mommy tries to control all the aspects of life, I know it's really God who can see the full picture.    Life happens and lots of us expereince circumstances that aren't what we would have chosen if we were the writer's of our book of life. Mommy has learned that it's moments in life, both good and bad, that help to mold us into the people we were intended to be. 

Mommy has made a choice to accept, to grow, to learn, to love, to embrace, and to find joy in what we have now. 

We still miss you the same.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Little Stronger, a Little Happier

Sweet Kaden Layne,

Hi sweet girl.  It's so hard to believe that another month has come and gone so quickly.  We still think of you everyday and miss you so much. We often wonder what kind of three year-old you would have been.  Most times to us, though, you are still a little sweet, chunky-legged, blue-eyed 16 month-old girl. 

The reality for Mommy and Daddy is that our memories grow ever more faded. As time moves on, Mommy and Daddy find it ever more difficult to remember all the little things about you. That makes us saddest of all.

As your little sister gets closer to the age you were when you passed, we are blessed with the same kind of joy we felt with you.  Having her to hold and love and spend our days with helps make life so much brighter again.  What a precious gift that is to Mommy and Daddy.  We know not to take that kind of joy for granted.  We appreciate it more than anyone would imagine.

One of the greatest promises in the bible says that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
Mommy knows there is good to come from all of this.  Mommy believes that God didn't take you away to hurt us or make us sad.  Having you for a short time was better than not ever knowing you.  Your little life served a big purpose for me.

Because of you, my sweet Kaden Layne, Mommy values time and relationships so differently than before.  Everyday, with help from God, Mommy tries to find a way to accept how your passing has changed things.  Life is a little more complicated, but everyday Mommy feels a little stronger, a little happier, and a little more hopeful. 

One day I know Mommy will get to see you and hold you again.

Miss you baby girl.

15 months

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Dragonfly Kite

It was a cool April afternoon. Daddy and I were getting ready to take you to the Georgetown Kite Festival.  Mommy and Daddy couldn't wait to do fun family things like this with you. 

As Daddy finished packing the car to leave, you did something big.  We had been practicing and waiting so long for you to do it all by yourself.  Finally, at thirteen months, you took your first wobbly steps outside on the driveway. 

When we got to the kite festival the big open field was full of kids and families flying kites of many sizes and colors.  We came prepared with your great great grandma Mammy's purple quilt and some snacks to share.   We knew you would enjoy just being outside and playing with your good friends, Jacob and Lucas. Mommy knew it didn't matter to you that we had no kite. 
Kaden & Lucas April 2010

Daddy thought otherwise. Daddy always loved to teach you how to do all kinds of things.  Flying a kite was one more thing he looked forward to.  So at the festival, Daddy got you a pretty blue kite with a dragonfly.

That day, Mommy and Daddy took turns trying to get that kite to fly. There wasn't much of a breeze, so we did our best to run up and down the field with the kite trailing behind.  We think it spent more time dragging the ground than up in the sky.  As exhausting as it was, it was worth the smile on your face.

A few months later, you and Daddy went out to the front yard to try to fly your kite again.  It was the perfect day - clear and windy.  You stood by Daddy's side. The wind took your kite up higher and higher. You pointed up as it flew.  Mommy imagines Daddy doing little tricks to impress you.  What a good day and a sweet memory for you and your daddy to share.

That memory was just two weeks before you passed away.   After you were gone, Daddy put your kite downstairs with all the other things that you would no longer use. 

Last month Mommy and Daddy went on vacation with some of our friends and their families.  We were prepared to have mixed emotions about being with our usual group of friends and their kids without you.  Just like the first set of holidays we spent that first year without you, Mommy and Daddy have learned to anticipate that some experiences will be more difficult than others. This "first" was another we were prepared to work through.
Layne May 2012

It was the second full day of our vacation and it just so happened to also be your special day.  It was the 11th.  As Mommy does every morning, I woke up thinking of you.  I smiled remembering all the fun we had on our vacation with you to the Outer Banks. Mommy and Daddy made plans on your day to take Layne to the beach.  This would be Layne's first day at the beach and Daddy thought it would be the perfect day to fly your special kite. 

Mommy and Daddy loaded up the baskets of our rented bikes, strapped on Layne's helmet and seat belt, and headed that way.   Mommy and Daddy laid out our beach blanket just a few yards from the water.

After Mommy and Daddy took turns playing in the waves with Layne, we headed to our spot on the beach.  Daddy pulled your special dragonfly kite from our bag and walked toward the back of the beach away from the crowds of people.  Layne and I stayed near our blanket and played in the sand.  It took no time before Mommy saw Daddy flying your kite so high.  Daddy seemed so glad to see it fly again. 
Kaden's Kite

With Layne's hands in mine, we walked a few yards over to where Daddy was standing, leaving our things behind.  Mommy pointed up in the sky for Layne to see and then sat her down to play in the sand again.  I told Daddy I would be right back, that I was going to grab our things and move closer so we could watch.  Leaving Layne behind, Mommy ran back. 

When I returned just a few seconds later, I saw Daddy standing with Layne in his arms.  Her entire face was covered in sand.

"I had to let go." he said.

"The kite.  I had to let go."

As I had turned away to gather our things, your baby sister had tried to crawl.  On the unsteady sand, she fell forward, face first.  At that exact moment Daddy glanced down to see her face down, struggling and kicking her legs.  In an instant Daddy had to make a decision:  let go of your special kite or rescue your baby sister.  Daddy let go and the wind carried your kite away.   It was gone.

For over an hour that day Mommy and Daddy searched for your kite.  Everyday for the rest of our trip our eyes would comb the beach for a dragonfly kite just in case someone found it.  What was supposed to be a happy way of including you in our vacation became the most disappointing part. 

Losing your kite that week felt like losing more of you.  To anyone else, that kite was just a piece of plastic.  To Mommy and Daddy that kite was a reminder of the day you took your first steps and the time you and Daddy shared together in the front yard.

It took awhile, but Mommy and Daddy learned something important after letting your kite go that day.  We learned that there are times we want so desperately to hang on to the things of the past.  And there are times when it's also okay to let go.  Only then can we begin to live in the present again.

We love you, baby girl, and hold you close to our hearts always...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Reminders of You

Hi Sweet Baby Girl,

As Mommy finished up school for the year and as Layne continues to grow into such a sweet little girl, so much of these days feel like those final weeks we shared with you.  Sometimes watching her feels like watching you again.  Sometimes hearing her sounds takes me back to a moment in time when you were here with us.  Sometimes feeling her makes me miss feeling you that much more.  In so many ways Layne helps to remind us of you.  Here are just a few...

Seeing her wave at anyone or anything that looks her way.
Watching her crawl in the lap of the same big bear you once loved.
Feeling her tiny fingers gather cheerios from my hand when we're driving in the car.
Hearing her squeal when Daddy tickles her until she can't stand it anymore.
Seeing her get excited when we say "Do you want to go outside-side?".
Watching her throw a fit when her push toy gets stuck in a corner.
Feeling her lean in closer when we brush her teeth.
Hearing her tell you all about everything in her own little language.
Seeing her smile big as she goes down the hill in the little red wagon.
Watching her play with other kids with same pure joy as you once did.
Feeling the weight of her warm body on ours when we comfort her in the middle of the night.
Hearing her say "Mamma" and "Dadda" in much the same ways.
Seeing her pull out her hair bow only to hold it up as if to ask to put it back in again.
Watching her cradle her baby dolls in her arms and rock back and forth.
Feeling her squishy warm thigh in my hand when I hold her on my hip.
Hearing her little hands pat the ground as she crawls throughout the house.

Sometimes it's nice to get lost in the happiness we feel about life with Layne. For a minute we feel normal again. It's our sweet memories of you that remind us of the big part we are missing.  We love those memories and we love you just the same as when you were here.

We will always wonder what life might be like if we had you here with us.

Love you and miss you.


Friday, May 11, 2012

You Are My Sunshine

 Mother's Day 2010

Many years ago, after your twin cousins were born, I recall hearing your Aunt Keshia sing to them.  Of the many favorites she had, for some reason I remember hearing her sing "You Are My Sunshine" the most.  Perhaps because I loved that song so much.  Its simple words sounded so sweet to me. 

When you were born, that song was among the many Mommy would sing to you.  Of course Mommy's very favorites, though, were the ones we made up along the way.  The best songs evolved from traditional ones.

"I'm Bringing Home a Baby Bumble Bee" became
"Momma loves her little baby Kaden Layne, she's so sweet and so pretty..."

"Frere Jacques" became
"Kaden Layne, Kaden Layne you're so sweet, you're so sweet.  Momma just loves ya, Momma just loves ya and your stinky feet."

Half the time the songs we made up made absolutely no sense at all.  Daddy would laugh at Mommy's ridiculous songs.  I think he was scared you were going to grow up to sing like Mommy! =)  It didn't matter. You loved when Mommy sang and I loved to see you smile.  So we sang all the time.

One song you loved so much Mommy learned from a teacher friend.  It is called "Way Up in the Sky".  You loved all the arm motions we did with it.  As soon as I would start to sing, you would flap your arms in excitement.

"Way up in the sky, the little birds fly
Down in the nest, the baby birds rest
With a wing on the left, and a wing on the right
The little birdies go down for the night

The bright sun comes up, the dew goes away
Good morning, good morning the little birds say!"

After you passed away Mommy didn't get to sing all those songs anymore. 

Just a few months before your baby sister was born (nearly eight months after you passed away), Mommy found a very special book I thought your sissy might one day like.  It was a bright yellow board book with a metallic sunshine on the front.  As Mommy read the words to herself before purchasing it, tears welled up in my eyes.  The book was You Are My Sunshine. It reminded me of you.  Reading it made me miss you so much.  Saying the words aloud in my head reminded me of all the songs I once sang to you.  I knew I had to get it.  I wanted to share with Layne all the things you enjoyed, so that she could somehow know you. 

Buying that book that day was like buying a little hope.  Hope that one day Mommy would enjoy reading and singing again.

Just in the past three months, Layne has really started to enjoy looking at her books.  She loves that one particular book so much.  She pulls it out almost everyday and stretches her arm up to me so that I will read it.  Each time I do.  Each time I think of you.

Sometimes that book and song make me happy.  Sometimes not.  It's the words in it that make me go back and forth. 

As I rocked Layne before bed tonight, I quietly sang to her.  Her little head rested on my shoulder and the weight of her warm body felt so good snuggled up to me. It reminded me so much of how you once felt in my arms. During that precious time with Layne I felt the words of that song become a tender prayer to God.

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
You make me happy, when skies are gray.
You'll never know dear, how much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away."

Mommy often wonders why my first little sunshine was taken away.  Why do we only have one when we should have two?  How much brighter our days would be if we had the both of you here together. 

We love you and miss you so much sweet Kaden Layne.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Blue Dress

Today is your Grandma Trish's birthday. Today is also another day Mommy remembers you!

This past weekend we celebrated Easter with family. We dressed your baby sister, Layne, in one of your pretty dresses. We know it won't be long before she is not able to wear your special things. She is growing so fast.

Like many special days Mommy wore the crystal bracelet with your name. Mommy also wore a special dress.

Mommy bought that blue dress while shopping with you and our close friends at a little boutique in the Outer Banks. It was a crazy fun day with all your little friends. Mommy remembers seeing your Aunt Mary try the dress on first. Mommy thought it looked so pretty on her. I decided to try it on too! With Aunt Mary's permission, Mommy got the same pretty blue dress.

Mommy wore that dress for the first time just a few weeks later. It was a baby shower Mommy was helping to host. Mommy felt pretty in that dress that summer day.

A few weeks later, Mommy put that dress on again. It was date night for Mommy and Daddy. We got all dressed up that night to go to Mommy's friend's wedding near Cincinnati. Mommy felt pretty in that dress then too.

Throughout the reception Mommy and Daddy danced and smiled. Mommy talked about you to good friends and former colleagues. Mommy shared your pictures and stories. It was clear to see you were the light of my life.

Mommy felt like life couldn't get any better that night. As Mommy and Daddy drove home, a phone call changed it all.

That night Mommy held you for the last time wearing that blue dress.

For nearly a year that pretty blue dress hung wrinkled on a hanger by itself in the corner of the laundry room. For over a year that dress went unworn. Mommy wasn't sure if I would ever muster the courage to ever wear that dress again. I thought many times about giving it away. As pretty as it was, it was a reminder of that day.

When I think of Easter, I think of heaven and the promise of eternal life. When I think of heaven, I think of you. On Easter Sunday I wore that blue dress again for the first time. I felt happy that day knowing one day we will see you again.

Until then, we miss you the same.

Love you baby girl.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Kaden with some of her cousins in March 2010.

It's the 11th of the month. We still think of you so much everyday. As Mommy sat down this evening to write to you, I began to look through some of your pictures. I love remembering you and pictures remind me of all the little times we got to share.

Almost always your pictures make me smile. I am so glad I was crazy about taking so many. I'm almost sure there wasn't a week of your life that went without being documented. Mommy is a sentimentalist for sure. Thank goodness for that because I don't know what I would do if I didn't have these memories of you. It brings me joy to look back at your funny faces and sweet smile. These pictures take me back to the many good times we had with you.

For some reason there is one type of picture that always makes Mommy a little tearful. They are those of you with your young cousins and friends. I know these were good times you shared with them and them with you. These pictures show just how small you all were. When I look at them now all I see is time.

Your cousins and friends are all bigger now.

So much time has passed. We still miss you the same.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


When you were 15 months old Mommy and Daddy took you to the Outer Banks for our family vacation with friends. One afternoon, the three of us took a walk from our vacation house to the little playground down the street. You had been walking just over a month and still liked to watch your feet as you took each step. You toddled back and forth zig-zagging from one side of the sidewalk to the the other. About halfway down the sidewalk you stopped at the sight of a little yellow flower. The flower had grown tall above the blades of grass. Curious was the expression on your face. Daddy picked that pretty flower and handed it to you. It matched the yellow of your dress. Your eyes lit up as you squeezed the flower between your fingers. It didn't take long before it turned limp in your hand.

When most people think of flowers, they probably don't give much thought to dandelions. Most people associate them with weeds and consider them a nuisance or an imperfection.

But to you, my curious little girl, this dandelion was a gift. For you, the simplest of things would brighten your day. Mommy loved that about you.

When Mommy looks back at pictures like these, I am so grateful for the tender moments we shared with you. I am reminded that it is the simplest things that truly mean so much in this life. We always remember these precious little moments and thank God that we have these memories of you.

Tonight we celebrated what would have been your 3rd birthday. We called today "Kaden's Day for Kids". In your memory , we asked our closest friends and family to join us for a fun day at Daddy's gym. We decided that since we cannot have you here with us, the next best thing would be to bring everyone together to celebrate your life and support the SUDC program. We all love and miss you so very much and continue to wonder how life would be different if you were still here with us.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pieces of You

Mommy searched for a Christmas dress for Layne that would match the bow you wore in your first Christmas pictures. Mommy always tries to include something of yours in all our family pictures and on special days.

Hi Sweet Baby Girl...

Another month has come and gone. Lately the months seem so short especially when we see how fast your little sister is growing. As each month passes it is the little things that Layne does that continues to remind us of you.

One of my favorite things to do is show Layne videos of you on my phone. Last Christmas Daddy got Mommy a new cell phone so that I could watch your videos anywhere I was. He put some of my favorite ones of you on there. The one at swim class. We sang your favorite song The Wheels on the Bus. At the end you clapped and smiled big up at Daddy. Mommy loved holding you in the water. The one of you swinging your arms dancing when you thought no one was looking while we were on vacation. You became so bashful when you realized Daddy was watching. You buried your head in the side of the bed.

I used to watch these videos all the time. Now I find myself watching Layne's expressions instead. Her little eyebrows and forehead raise up and down. She doesn't take her eye off of you. I want so much for her to know how great you made us feel!

As Layne grows older Mommy and Daddy love seeing her find so much joy in your things. Mommy remembers how difficult it was when I was pregnant with Layne to make room for her things. Since Layne would be taking your room it was necessary for Mommy and Daddy to move a lot of your things. No way did we ever consider getting rid of one single toy, sleeper, or blanket. Instead, we put your things in a box and stored them in the basement. We knew that one day we would want to look at all these things again.

Very soon after you passed away Mommy and Daddy's very good friends took on a most difficult task. With loving hearts and by our request, they combed through our entire house to remove all the baby things that were scattered about. Mommy and Daddy couldn't bear the thought of coming home without you only to find a house with reminders of you. From dirty laundry to diapers, to a whole cabinet full of baby food I purchased the day you passed. Spoons, bowls, and plates made just right for small hands. Even a sippy cup with a few drops of milk left behind. Everything of yours, with the exception of the pictures that hung on our walls and the things in your room, was packed away.

As Layne has grown it has made Mommy's heart so happy and sad at the same time to share your things with her. Every so often Mommy will round up enough courage and strength to go through another tub of your last things.

Just a little while ago when Layne started eating several meals a day, I knew it was time to search for those bibs and spoons. So one night while Daddy was working late, I did it. I went downstairs and carried the two purple tubs Mommy and Daddy's friends had packed for us. And in one night I sat in the living room floor pulling out one spoon and sippy cup at a time searching for any pieces of you that might remain as a reminder. Your toys, with batteries that had stopped working, your personalized CD that you never got to hear, your Outer Banks cup with your name on the side, your purple recorder you used to walk around the house blowing as loud as you could, the brand new sippy cups Mommy bought for you the day you passed that were never opened. Mommy sat in the floor tearful and sad searching for any evidence of you I could find on all those things.

Wrapped up in my own sorrow and surrounded by all your things, Mommy had briefly forgotten all about Layne sitting next to me. When I turned to look and see what she was doing, I couldn't help but smile when I saw her banging your cereal bowls together. It was then that I realized that pieces of you are all around us. We just have to remember to seek out the joy we find in the things you loved.

It won't be long before Layne will outgrow your things. I don't mind if the polka dots are faded on the outfits she wears or the colors are last seasons trend. What matters to me is that Layne is surrounded by you in the one way she can be. We love Layne so much and appreciate her for all the joy she brings to our days! She has truly been a lifesaver to Mommy and Daddy over the past year. We only imagine how full our hearts would be if we had the both of you to love each day.