Wednesday, December 11, 2013


When Mommy thinks of you I always wonder how you would look and what you would be like if you were still here.  When Mommy thinks of you I often imagine what it would be like to have you here.  I wonder how our family would feel if we were four instead of three.

The open seat at our table of four. . .
The empty space in the backseat of our car. . .
Our Jack and Jill bathroom with double sinks. . .
The double wide carts at Sam's that Layne rides in by herself. . .
Watching Daddy ride a single go-cart while the other daddy's ride with their big kids in the double ones. . .

They're all sad reminders that our family is incomplete without you here.

Mommy feels so uneven sometimes.

Wishing you were here to help make our family complete...

Love and miss you, Sweet Girl.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Our Spot

When you first passed away Mommy and Daddy spent countless hours visiting your spot.  Daddy went every morning to water your flowers and pick out the weeds.  Mommy always looked for pretty ribbons to make your bows.  Your spot was never without.  It was your spot at the cemetery where Mommy and Daddy found comfort in those first days, weeks, and months without you.  Taking care of your spot was the one way Mommy and Daddy were still able to take care of you.

When your little sister was born it was your spot that we took her first on our way home from the hospital.  It happened to be the 11th, which made it that much more special.  We wanted to share her with you in the only way we could think.  That day we had a little picnic there.  That seemed to be the day when Mommy felt hope again.

As Layne has grown up into the curious little girl she has become, Mommy and Daddy have made certain that she knows she is not an only child.  Pictures of you still hang on our walls and sit on our shelves. Mommy makes certain to share new ones from time to time.   The memories that are tucked away in Mommy's heart are shared when the times seem just right.

Just before Halloween Daddy took Layne and me by your spot.  Layne had helped Mommy pick out some little scarecrows and a few little pumpkins the week before.  As we pulled into the main drive of the cemetery, Layne knew exactly where we were.

"We're going to Kaden's spot?" Layne asked.

"Yes, Baby."

That's when she started to ask all kinds of curious questions.

"Mommy, do you have a spot?"


"Daddy, do you have a spot?"


Mommy and Daddy could only look at each other in silence.  The curious, but innocent nature of her questions melted our hearts that day.

A few weeks ago Mommy and Daddy had some sad news.  Sammy, our cat of 7 years, had been hit by a car late in the night in front of our house.  Our neighbor noticed him early the next morning.  Before your sister could see him, that nice neighbor picked him up from the road and put him in a white bag.  That afternoon Daddy told your sister the sad news.

"Sammy went to Heaven last night."

"Sammy went to Heaven?"  You could see her wheels turning.  After a long pause and in the most serious way she said, "We can go get him, Daddy!"

"No, Layne." Daddy paused for a minute.  "Sammy went to Heaven."  After another long pause he say, "You will need to be extra nice to Frank.  He might be a little sad."

"Maybe we can go see him,"  She said in her tiny 2-year old voice.  "Maybe we can go to Heaven sometime."

Later that day Daddy found a spot on the hill just behind the pine tree to burry Sammy.  Daddy put a few rocks on top to mark the spot as his.  Everyday Layne will make mention of him in some way.  Sometimes she will say to Frank, "I'm sorry Sammy went to Heaven." Other times she will tell me how you get to play with Sammy now.  Tonight she asked if I could drive my car and she could ride her bike to go to Heaven. I couldn't help but smile.  I wish..  

Since you have been gone, Mommy is reminded that this is not the end. One day, a long time from now, Mommy will have a spot.  Daddy, too. We look to Jesus and hold on to the hope that one day we will have a spot with you next to our Father in Heaven.

We love you Sweet Girl...

Friday, October 11, 2013

Princess...the First

Sweet Baby Girl...

The day Mommy and Daddy found out you were going to be a girl, we knew we wanted to raise you to be sweet, caring, and genuine.  We wanted you to be smart and independent and confident.  Daddy also vowed to raise you to be a girl who liked worms, wasn't afraid of dirt, and would play golf and tennis.  Most importantly, Daddy wanted you to be everything EXCEPT a princess.

For Mommy, that meant no shopping for frilly pink outfits, printed shirts or labels that implied anything remotely related to princesses.  Hair bows and cute shoes were about the extent of the girly stuff Mommy got for you.  Mommy loved that! Just like Daddy, though, I wanted you to be raised to love the boy stuff and the girly stuff the same.  I wanted you to be well-rounded and thought it should be up to you to decide what you liked.  

Pajamas were some of Mommy's favorite things to get for you.  There is something about the look and feel of a baby in feeted pajamas that still gives Mommy a warm, fuzzy feeling.  You always looked adorable in them and seemed so comfortable parading around the house in your cozy pjs.  It seemed like you were always growing out of them.  Mommy was always on the lookout for cute prints, soft fabrics, and ones that steered away from anything princess.  Mommy even had your Donna Ma on the hunt for them when she was out shopping.

After a visit with your Donna Ma, you came home with some pretty spring-colored pjs. A pink pair and a purple pair.  Your Donna Ma said she was a little unsure about the pink cheetah print ones, but thought that your Daddy would be ok with them.  Mommy thought they were super sweet.  

A few weeks went by and we found ourselves on vacation with our friends and their little ones.  Skylar, Jacob, Elly Kate, and you were the perfect mix of ages to make the week so much fun! One morning, early in the week, Mommy walked you down to the kitchen for breakfast.  There in the living room was Aunt Mary and your sweet little friend, Elly Kate.  Aunt Mary and Mommy were tickled to see that you girls had on matching pajamas!  As Mommy walked you closer to play with Elly Kate, I noticed something was slightly different.  I turned and looked closely at the kitty cat on your pink jammies, then looked back to Elly Kate's.  Just below the white kitty was a small, rectangular shaped word. As I looked again and moved even closer I could read the word.  The word was PRINCESS. 

I gasped, then laughed out loud. It took me just a second to realize what your Donna Ma had done!  Knowing your Daddy would have a fit, your Donna Ma had carefully snipped away the threads that surrounded the tiny label. Without a hint of evidence, Mommy and Daddy never noticed.  That day we had a good laugh as all of Mommy's friends gave Daddy a hard time for not letting you be a princess.  Daddy was a good sport!

It was about a month after this that you passed away.  A few weeks later, your Donna Ma gave Mommy the clipped-off label.  She had kept it all along.  I'm not sure why, but I like to think that she always thought of you as her little princess.  Mommy treasured that little label then and still does today.  I keep it in a special box by itself in Mommy's night stand. Occasionally I will think about it and smile remembering that funny day on vacation.

Secretly and lovingly, you always were Mommy and Daddy's first little princess.

In a few weeks it will be Halloween.   This week Layne said she wanted to dress up as Sophia the First...a princess.  This afternoon Layne and I pretended to be princesses in the backyard.  As we were holding up our pretend dresses she told me, "Mommy, I want you to be Princess Amber for Halloween!"  Such a sweet thought from such a tender-hearted little girl.  Mommy couldn't help but sigh.  Amber is Sophia's sister.

If you were here Mommy is certain that Layne would have asked you to be Amber.   If you were here I imagine you and Layne doing all the things that sisters do.  Mommy has healed so much in the last three years, but my heart still breaks to see your sister play alone when she should be playing with you.

We wish you were here for your sister to love on like she loves on us.  We wish you were here so that Layne could share her love of fairies and books and music and dancing with more than her teddy bears and baby dolls.  We wish you were here so that Layne could learn about being a big girl.  We wish you were here so that we could know which princess you would like to be.  We wish you were here so that our hearts would be doubly filled with the kind of joy Layne brings to our days.

We love you.  We miss you. We remember you always...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Before and After

Today is Sept. 11th.  Of course, Mommy thinks of you.  Mommy also thinks of all those people who are recalling all the horrific details from this horrible day in our history. It is unreal how the details of our best times with those we love can sometimes become so vague, but the moments from the most horrific days can be so ingrained in our memories and have such an impact on our lives that we are forever changed.

Undoubtedly, this is the day that changed life for all of us.  Everyone remembers the moments and details of 9/11, but the moments for those who lost a loved one on that day are magnified.  The minutes leading up to and following a tragic event such as this are replayed in the minds of those affected directly.  To them it is remembered as the before and after.  The what it was and the what it is now.  To them, this is the day their life was changed forever.

For all of those people who lost daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, coworkers, and friends Mommy mourns for them.

It has been 12 years since 9/11. So much of our everyday has been changed because of this event.  So many life plans were derailed and dreams were lost.

It has been 3 years since you were last here.  In those early days and weeks following your funeral the pain and sorrow was relentless.  Every moment of every second of every day was spent thinking about all that we had lost.   Everyday Mommy woke up to the sadness of our reality.  Everyday Mommy looked to find a new purpose for life.  It has taken a long time for Mommy to get to the point where life feels normal again.  The joy has finally returned to my days and Mommy feels optimistic and hopeful again.   It feels good to have it that way, but inside Mommy knows there could have been so much more if you were still here!

Mommy's prayer is that the families of the victims of 9/11 are at a place where the joy feels good again. Where the memories of the before overshadow the devastation of the after.

Thinking of them tonight and loving you always...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

New Beginnings

It's August again and Mommy is starting a new year back to school.  Mommy thinks back to what this time was like three years ago.  Much of it is a blur, but so many of the emotions are hard to forget.

Mommy remembers how deafening the silence in our home had become.  It was so hard to be at home for any given time.  A place that was once scattered with your sippy cups and toys had become silent and still.  Sometimes it was nice to have the silence so Mommy could sleep away the sadness.  Most of the time, though, it was just a reminder of what was no longer here.

Mommy remembers going back to her classroom nearly a week after you passed.  It gave me something to do.  It was something to distract and keep me busy.  Mommy remembers working day and night just like when I was a brand new teacher.  Mommy remembers how the kids that year filled my heart with so much of the love that had gone missing.  Mommy remembers hanging on to the memories of you visiting Mommy at school and playing with some of the toys and puppets.  Mommy remembers how the people I worked closest with and those who knew you best got Mommy through the hard times.  Sometimes it was a hug, but most of the time it was with a good memory or a laugh.

Three years later and Mommy still remembers.  Life is certainly different now.  Our house is again scattered with toys.  Cups and plates litter the counters from day to day.  Laundry has become Mommy's nemesis again.  Sometimes when I get overwhelmed, I think back to how it felt when our life was flipped upside down.

A year from now, you would have been starting kindergarten.  Mommy has often wonder how difficult that would be.  Mommy has worry about how it would feel to have the kids that you once played with in class making friends, learning to read, and enjoying school without you here.  Mommy has wonder if it would be something to get use to or something that would be a reminder that you are no longer here.  Mommy often wonders about a lot of things like that.

This month Mommy moved to a new school.  Mommy even moved to a new grade.  New teachers, new kids, even a new building. Mommy looks at this as a new beginning.  Not to forget about you or the precious people that  became Mommy's rock.  Instead, to make new memories, experience new joys, and find new hope.  Mommy believes this is God's plan for protecting me from all those worries and wonders.

Mommy will always wonder what life would have been like if you were here.

We love you and miss you the same...

Thursday, July 11, 2013


When you were about six months old Mommy and Daddy took you to your very first Kentucky State Fair.  Mommy and Daddy went each year to watch your Uncle Art play music under the tent in front of the fair grounds.

This was going to be your first visit.  Mommy was thrilled for you to meet the cows and pigs in the farm exhibit.  You were just an itty-bitty round faced baby girl at the time and I knew you wouldn't remember a thing, but I was excited about this being your first official fair!

Fitting snugly inside Mommy's baby sling, I carried you through the rows of animals.  Mommy even stopped by one baby calf just so you could get a close look.  When that cow made a quick turn of its head Mommy got nervous for a second.  I didn't want anything to hurt my precious baby girl.

Later in our visit we stopped by to look at all the police cars and community exhibits.  There was a mock town where little kids rode tricycles like real cars and little versions of stop signs and street lights lined the roads.  Nearby there was a free photo ID booth. A member from the police department was taking pictures of kids so that parents could have a child ID card just in case their child ever became lost.  Written in big, blue letters at the top were the words "LOST CHILD ID CARD".  Just under the title was a list of things to do should your child become missing.    

Mommy never passed up an opportunity to have your picture made...even if it was just for an ID card.  As silly as it sounded and even though you were just a baby and had a gazillion pictures taken of you every day, Mommy insisted that we have an ID made for you.  Mommy thought it would be a neat keepsake from your first fair and that you would enjoy looking at it when you got older.  It was clear that you were too little to stand in front of the blue backdrop mounted on the wall, so Daddy held you up in his arms as the camera flashed.

When we got home that day, Daddy put your card in his dresser drawer.

This week, as Daddy was cleaning out his dresser drawer, he found your card. This week marks three years since we last had you here with us.  When he showed it to Mommy the first thing I said was I wish she was just lost.  If you were just lost, then there would be hope that you would be found.  As quickly as that thought entered my mind I realized that Mommy had it all wrong. 

Sometimes the only thing that gets Mommy through the sadness is to think of the million other ways children are taken from their parents everyday.  Mommy can't help but think of all the ways you were spared the sorrow and heartache that often comes with life here on earth.  It makes Mommy happy to think that every one of your days was full of love and joy.   

Mommy is thankful to know exactly where you are.  That gives Mommy peace everyday.

Love and miss you sweet girl...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pictures of You

"I want to see Kaden, Daddy!"

Your little sister often asks.  As Daddy pulls out his wallet, Layne smiles with delight.  She loves to look at the pictures Daddy keeps of you in there.  The one of Daddy tickling you on vacation.  The one of you smiling big as Daddy pushed you on the swing.  Layne studies the photos and names the people in each one.  Mommy and Daddy are quick to share the sweet memories from those times we had with you.

When we talk about you, Layne often says, "I want to hug her!" The first time she said this, Mommy almost cried.  All Mommy could think was Boy, I want to hug her, too!  Pictures and memories of Mommy holding you flash in my mind. What would I give to have just one more squish of those chunky legs or feel one more squeeze with your tiny arms around my neck?  Each time I feel your sister's squeeze, I feel a little of you.  It's not the same, but it sure does help Mommy to remember.

"Where is Kaden?"

What Mommy loves best of all is how Layne answers this question.  Layne knows that you get to celebrate Christmas and your birthday with Jesus.  In her tiny, two year old little voice she says, "Kaden's in heaven."  Mommy pictures you smiling and laughing up there.  Layne knows that heaven is a special, pretty place and that you get to be there.  She knows that one day we will get to be there with you, too.   That's Mommy's favorite part of this story.

Losing you has undoubtably been the most difficult part of Mommy and Daddy's lives.  Knowing the gift of everlasting life in heaven is before us is definitely what keeps us going.

We love you.  We miss you.  We always remember you.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Two-Dollar Bill

A few weeks ago Mommy took your little sister to Big Lots.  As soon as we walked through the automatic door she saw the little yellow bus.  She had ridden the bus just a few times before and talked about it for days and days after.  She loves to ride that little bus. 

As always, Mommy knew she had absolutely no money in her wallet.  Just like with you, Mommy never carries money, only her debit card.  Mommy knew that if we bought something we could get cash back so we could have money to ride that bus.

After walking around the store and picking out a few things for Layne’s upcoming birthday, Mommy walked to the checkout counter to pay.  The nice lady at the checkout desk greeted Layne with a smile and commented on her ever so polite requests to ride the bus.  As Mommy finished checking out I was surprised to see there was no cash back option at this store.  Rummaging around in my purse, I searched for enough coins to make the 50 cents needed to ride the bus.  No luck.  The yellow bus sat across from us.  Mommy could see the anticipation in Layne’s eyes as she smiled about what was to come. Mommy glanced down to the two-dollar bill that lay tucked in the back of my wallet.  I thought about you. I couldn’t use it. 

Just in time, the sweet lady at the checkout desk reached in her apron, placed two quarters out on the counter, smiled, and said, “Here you go, Princess”.  At the exact same time, the young lady in line behind us laid 50 cents next to my wallet. Overwhelmed with gratitude Mommy thanked both of them and prompted Layne to do the same. In her little voice Layne smiled and thanked them both.

Those two nice women went on about their business. Grinning from ear to ear, Layne rode the little school bus. Mommy felt so happy to enjoy this moment with Layne and relief that I didn’t have to use my two-dollar bill.  Those two women will never know how much that truly meant to me.

Mommy got that two-dollar bill a few months after you passed away.  Your Donna Ma gave it to me.  She said she had been saving it to give to you on your second birthday.  Since she wouldn’t be able to do that she wanted me to have it.  For the past three years I have carried that two-dollar bill in the same wallet I had when you were here with us. No one really knew about it.  Not even Daddy.  For some reason seeing it everyday didn’t make me sad.  Mommy kept it there to remind me of you.

Even though that two-dollar bill was given to Mommy after you were gone, it reminds me that everyday we had with you was a blessing.  For all those days we miss out on I know we will somehow make up for when we see you again in heaven. It’s the little reminders that Mommy holds on to most.

This week your baby sister turned two.  On Thursday Daddy came home from work with a surprise in his hand.  Pinched between his fingers he held up a crisp two-dollar bill.   “I got it special for your piggy bank,” he said as he gave it to Layne.  She took it from his hand and began to dance around holding it up in the air. 

“Thank you, Daddy!”

Mommy placed Layne’s two-dollar bill on her dresser next to your picture. 

Love you and miss you sweet girl…

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Never Forget

Last week we took your sister to the beach for Spring Break.  So much of our vacation was reminiscent of our last trip with you.  Everything from playing in the sand, to the way you flapped your arms back and forth as you watched the waves crash into the shore.  Even watching Daddy swing your little sister at the playground gave me flashbacks to the memories we were so fortunate to have made with you.  Pictures from your albums at home would flash in my mind.

Sometimes it is a smile or a laugh.  Sometimes it is felt in the memories we are making with Layne.  Nonetheless you are with us always and we miss you the same.

Sometimes it is hard to remember.  Everyday I never forget...

Monday, March 11, 2013


Hi Baby Girl...

It's March and spring is around the corner.  Mommy and Daddy are loving the time we can get together playing outside with Layne. We always think about how life would be so much sweeter if we had you here, too.

Layne is just five months older than what you were when you were last here with us.  With every month that goes by, every milestone she reaches, and every memory we make with Layne, Mommy and Daddy realize even more how much we are missing out on by not having you here. 

Just the other morning, when Mommy went in to get Layne up for the day, she lay sweetly on her tummy looking at Mommy.  Mommy sat down next to her just outside her crib and began to ask her if she slept well.  She said yes and began to ramble about what she did the day before with her babysitter, Anna. 

Layne is becoming such a sweet little girl.  It's difficult for Mommy to call her a baby anymore because she is no longer that.  Even though Layne is younger, I feel like you are still my baby girl, sweet Kaden. 

Mommy often wonders what our conversations would be like.

Love and miss you, sweet girl.

Kaden ~ 16 months
Layne ~ 22 months

Monday, February 11, 2013

Angel Kisses

A few weeks ago while cleaning your sissy's bathroom sink, Mommy came upon a picture of you as a newborn.  It's a sweet picture in a pretty frame striped with the colors of your nursery and labeled with a k.  You were probably no more than a few days old when the picture was taken.  Mommy remembers taking it and trying so hard to capture the tiny little ID bracelet in the frame.

Looking at the close-up of your sweet little face, I was reminded of the tiny red marks that graced your eyelids as a newborn.  I remember asking the nurse while in the hospital what those little marks were and if they would go away.  She called them angel kisses and assured Mommy they would fade with time.

After a few weeks those little marks did fade away. 

Just a month or so ago Mommy started saying a night time prayer before bed with your sissy Layne.  In the dark of the night Mommy will hold Layne's hand in mine and whisper your sweet bedtime prayer.  Mommy's favorite part is the second line... 

May the angels watch me through the night and keep me in their precious sight.

I wonder if those little angel kisses you once had were placed there for a reason.  Perhaps God knew when you were born that one day you would be watching over us.  Maybe we need you up there to help give us something to look forward to after this life on earth is over...

Still, we love you and miss you the same.

Happy birthday sweet girl. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fitting In...Again

Hi Baby Girl,

As Layne grows into a little girl, Mommy finds so much joy in watching her absorb the world around her.  She is so bright and eager to learn.  She echos every word we speak and responds in just the right ways when we have conversations with her.  Who knows if she really gets what we are saying, but boy she is good at playing along.

One of Mommy's favorite things to do with Layne is share the pictures and names of the people in her life.  She loves your friends Jacob and Lucas so much.  She calls them "the boys" and gets so excited when we plan play dates.  Every Sunday when we say we are going to church, the first thing Layne says is "boys?". 

Even though the boys were too young to remember their time with you, Mommy remembers.  Seeing Layne play with them reminds me so much of all the fun we had together watching the three of you grow.  Mommy was so happy to have their mommy as a friend and even happier knowing that we had each other to help figure out how to be the best mommies we could be.

When you passed away, all that changed.  Not because of anything anyone did wrong.  It changed because the circumstances of Mommy's life were suddenly so different.  Sadly, Mommy no longer needed to figure out sleep schedules or toddler meals.  Suddenly life for Mommy was completely different from that of Mommy's closest friends. 

For the past three years Mommy and Daddy have been adjusting to life without you and life with Layne. In that time our friends have been so patient and considerate of our feelings...even when we were unsure of how to feel.

Now that Layne is a toddler, she is beginning to fit in with all your friends.   She loves to play with them and is finally old enough to interact with them in meaningful ways. They treat her so much like a little sister. It makes Mommy's heart happy to know Layne has a little piece of something that was once so special to you.

As Layne is beginning to fit in, Mommy feels like she is beginning to fit in again, too. 

Love you and miss you, Baby Girl.