Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We were right.

Dear Noah David,

There are days now, as I look back, when I feel bad that I pushed you so hard to do things after you graduated from high school. I wasn't as supportive and encouraging as I should have been.  As your big sister, I just knew there was SO much inside of you that the world needed to see. My intentions were good, I just wasn't the best at how I carried them out.  I'm sorry.  The more I learn about you now, the more I know I was right about what I saw in you. I'm glad I had the chance to tell you how proud I was of you when you were home after your school before you left for Ohio. I hope you really heard me when I said it, and I hope you know how very much I loved you then and love you still. I got to be your big sister while you were here. What a gift.
I love you, and I miss you.

I miss my dreams for you and all the things that might have been.



We were right, you know

to see a hidden spark

we were right, you know

when we saw the greatness

still waiting

we were right, you know

when we were certain

you had big things

to offer the world

we were right, you know

to dream

of the good

you would bring

we didn’t know

that your spark would light

and your light would burn

for such a brief time here

we missed it

we just get the afterglow

it’s good to see

but leaves us


to know more

we didn’t know

that we would never see

the depth of the greatness

the fullness of the man you became

we missed it

we just get glimpses

they are good to see

but leave us


for what will never be

we didn’t know

that the things you had to offer

were even bigger

and given in such different ways

than what we had dreamt

your life laid down

the good you would have brought

we missed it

we hold on to broken dreams

remold them and pray


Lord, let us see

your purpose

your mighty hand

your good

in even this.”

Even though we didn't know

We were right, you know

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Glimmer of Healing

It’s surprisingly not cold outside
when the car pulls up
in front of my house at 3:30am
Mumsie and Popster greet me
and we head out to the airport
to catch our 6am flights
that will return us to the place you became a man
It feels different this time
I can breathe easier
the pit in my stomach is smaller
I feel hopeful anticipation
where once I felt dread
We are returning to honor you, Noah
to see your name memorialized on a gate
A huge honor
I think you would be proud and happy
to know that you mattered
You made a difference
in big and small ways
to so many

I board my plane in the dark
seated by a window
as we fly up above the clouds
I see the sun rise
A new experience for me
watching the sunrise from the sky
Clouds look like land forms
A fiery ball of bright red and orange bursts
painting the sky with patterns and colors
that lighten and fade
to bright yellow then white
I am struck by the awareness
that this sunrise is like my grief
Fire that will in time change to light
I am filled with gratitude
that in this moment
I can see that God is working
I can feel that He is healing

I am grateful for that reminder
because I need it
as I sit by the window in the airport terminal
and watch the planes land and pull into gates
My body reacts with anxiety
and into my mind flash images and sounds
I want to remember but forget at the same time
The plane pulling into the gate
as we waited with dread
The open door
The sight of the flag draped over your coffin
as it slid past us in the door of the plane
and then down the belt
The cries of breaking hearts
facing our nightmare
Young men in uniform
silently stepping
honoring you and carrying you home
Your brave brother in arms
along with airport police and personnel
faces of strangers pressed against glass windows watching
Our dreams shatter

Ghosts of memories
taunt and torment at the most unexpected times
but sunglasses hide my tears
and I am grateful
I can breathe this time
as I sit with my memories
and feel a piece of the pain again
that once we barely survived

Monday, November 5, 2012

Our first "First" - Sibling Christmas

Dear Noah,
Yesterday we had our first Sibling Christmas without you.  It was hard, but we did it.
You are loved and missed, little brother of mine.
~ Ab

I felt the hole
you left when you were taken

The plate with your name
came out of the box
accompanied with a simple question
“Ab, what should we do with this?”

A plate made with your name
a place holder
for a place you will never again fill
a reminder that this year
and all the years to come
will never be the same

Your face
your voice
your hugs
your nose stuck in a book
your laughter
your teasing
your acting
your singing
your nieces and nephews clamoring for you to play
your amazing gag gifts
your trail of candy wrappers
your presence
all the things that made you you
all the things that drove us crazy
all the things that made us love you

They aren’t here
and we aren’t complete
we will never be the same again

There’s a hole now where you used to stand
in groups and hugs and games
we’re shorter
our singing doesn’t sound the same
our laughter is missing notes
we sing and laugh and play again
because we must go on
but it’s not the same

Happy, funny moments
laughter followed by tears
talents, skits and memories acted out
I laughed
but ached with the knowledge
if you were here
you would have been in your element
this part of our evening
was when you shone
we aren’t as good without you

I felt the hole
deep, lonely
aching, unbalanced
pain-filled, sorrowful
and somehow
filled with love
filled with hope
filled with gratitude

Because you are a part of us
we will never be the same

I feel the hole
you left when you were taken.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Painful Sort of Memories

This is not my usual sort of post. But I need to share it. These are my memories and I want my kids to have them some day.

Noah David, I love and miss you more than I have words to express.


Middle of the night phone ringing
fumbling for a phone I can not find
ringing stops
I can’t sleep so I walk
up the stairs to rooms filled with lights
but empty of people
no message light flashes
maybe it was a butt dial
caller id says Muonios
not a cell phone
stomach clenches into hard knots
frantic phone calls home
busy signal...busy signal...busy signal...busy signal
dread fills my heart
suddenly the red message light flashes
my heart skips a beat
I press the button
Mom’s voice, quiet and terrible...
“...if you get this call home right away.”
The last of my hope that it was nothing shatters
Who?  What?  
Lord help me to bear what’s next.
I call again and again
busy signal...busy signal...busy signal

And then noise on the stairs
Her voice has never sounded like that
and she never looks like that
shaky, wide-eyed, terror stricken
What is happening?
And then the words that tear my heart out
She can barely speak them
I can hardly bear to hear them
“Ab, mom called me.  She said that a car hit Noah.  
She said that the car hit him and he died.  
That’s what she told me on the phone.
Ab, what is going on?  What is happening?”
And all I can do is try to hold her together with a hug

Eyes unfocused in a blank stare.
No tears yet.
Hardly able to breathe
And then
shaking that starts somewhere deep inside
when your heart gets ripped apart
it must be hard for your body to hold it together
What in the world is happening?

No.  He was supposed to be safe in Ohio
We weren’t supposed to lose another brother
What is going on?

And then down the hall, another sister
All I can do is beckon her to our hug
I open my mouth to try to tell her
But all that it says is, “It’s bad.  Oh, it’s so, so bad.”
My little sister has to say the words again
I should be her big sister and say them for her
It doesn’t feel real
It can’t be real.
WAKE UP!  Oh, please wake up!

Back down the stairs to my bedroom
He is awake and worried
I try to tell him and manage to say the words
Weeping on my bed
He tries to hug me
cries with me
and bravely takes on the task of telling
the girl whose biggest fear
was not ever seeing her uncle again
How did she know?

The phone rings
“Mom?  Oh, Mama...I’m so sorry.”
And she speaks bravely
in that terrible, quiet, grief-filled voice
“Noah was killed tonight.  
A car hit him as he was riding his bike to his shift...
How many pieces of my heart can get torn out
while it keeps on beating?”
I don’t have an answer
What can I say?
I’m sorry, Mama
I’m so sorry
I don’t understand
What is happening?

My weeping daughter
clutching her Noah bear
joins us on the couches
as we sit
mostly in silence
punctuated with sobs
and kleenexes
holding on to each other

We pray
for strength
and understanding
why?  Oh Lord, WHY?
and forgiveness for our lack of faith
to feel His presence
that he would hold us up
that he would not abandon us
even when we can not see him
And the sister who has been quiet
quietly quotes through misty eyes
Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.”

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Life goes on...

It's hard to believe it's been over three weeks since our lives got turned upside down when we got the terrible news my little brother had been killed.  I am so grateful for the resilience and joy that kids are so full of  - God has blessed me with many reasons and occasions to smile.


N: "Ab, I love you SO much.  I even love you more than lemonade and lollipops."

How can I help but smile about that?  :)


J (Pointing frantically at the people near us):  "MOM!  LOOKIT!"
Me:  "J, it isn't polite to point at people."
J:  "But there's some humans over there.  I haven't met them yet."

I swear my kid really thinks he is a robot...or a T-Rex.


J is running crazily from room to room GROWLING.
N:  "J, that is not what pterodactyls do."
J:  "Duh!  I'm a T-REX!"



J:  "Mom, lookit.  It's my miracle!"  (holds up a plastic baby spoon)
Me:  Your miracle?"
J:  "Yep.  It's a talking spoon."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hugging Days

Sometimes life is hard.  We are grieving the loss of my little brother who was killed when a car hit him as he was riding his bike to work for the night shift.  Noah was one of the best uncles the world has known. He loved my kids, and they adored him.  Last night, after a long day of seeing all of the big people in his life grieve, J came over to give me hug, looked at me with a very serious face and said, "It's a hugging day today."  

We love and miss you, Noah David.  Our hearts are broken.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A little Catch Up

It's been a here are a few tidbits:

N:  Ab, the KIMONO zoo is bigger than the Minnesota zoo, right?
Me: No, the COMO zoo is smaller.
N:  Pretty sure it's the KIMONO zoo.

I'm pretty sure it's not, but okay.


While camping in the north woods by beautiful Lake Kabetogama, J got to do some fishing and also watch Papa Mike fillet a few sauger.  The next time we were at the beach he decided to fix everyone on the beach "chicken fish".  He carefully found some aquatic plants with thicker stems and broke them into pieces.  Then he proceeded to "whack 'em on the head so they're dead", cut them up with a "knife" (stick), season them by sprinkling sand on them, toss them in flour (more sand) and cook them, and then serve everybody on the beach one by one.  "Want some chicken fish?"  Thankfully, all of them were moms/grandparents/other kids who were familiar with fishing, so they weren't too traumatized.  In case you were wondering if he pays attention while he's running and playing, the answer is, apparently, yes.  :)


J:  Mama, you can just make mine food in the "heat wave".
Me:  ?????
J: You know, this.  (points at the microwave)


At the McDonald's indoor playground, J comes down crying to the table:
Me:  What's the matter, sweet pea?
J:  That...that...that HUMAN hit me.

Yes, as opposed to the robots that were nice to you.


Steve was holding J, and J was drinking out of Steve's glass of pop:
J: *loud belch* (tips the cup and looks in it) " this BURPING JUICE?"

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Genius, I Tell You.

I got a funny text from S's mom:

"Cute quote for the day.
We are watching a kids' show together and S said, 'Mommy, you are a genius!'
'Wow, thanks!  Where did you learn that word?'
'J and N call their mommies geniuses.'
'Do you know what that word means?'
'Yep, it means you are a really good cook and you have LOTS of playtime.' "

And now you know.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A "Robber" and Colored Hearts

I love the conversations I have with N when there are no other kids around to compete for his talking time.  :)

Today on the way to his house to meet his parents so they could leave on a trip to visit friends in a neighboring state:

N: "Ab, I am going to see my friend Jackson.  I remember his name now.  Once I forgot his name for a WHOLE day, and then I knew it.  And I know his dad's name."
Me: "Really?  What is it?"
N: "Robber.  But he's not a bad guy, he just has a bad guy name.  He really isn't a bad guy.  And mine friend's mom isn't a bad guy either.  I think her name is Jen.  That's just like my mom."
Me:  "Oh.  I'm glad they aren't bad guys.  It would be scary to be friends with bad guys."
N:  "It's very good.  Because if mine friend's dad was a bad guy, and his mom was a bad guy, then Jackson and him's little sister would be bad guys too."
Me:  "Well, not necessarily.  What if your friend and his little sister asked Jesus to come into their hearts?"
N:  "They'd be TRANSFORMED!"
Me:  "Really?  What does transformed mean?"
N"  "Their hearts change.  Into different colored ones."
Me:  "Interesting.  Well, what color are bad guy hearts?"
N:  "Black.  With bad guy pictures on them."
Me:  "What do they look like when Jesus comes into them?"
N:  "Red.  With Jesus pictures on them."


Me: "N, is your friend's dad's name Robert?  With a "tuh, tuh, t on the end?"
N:  "Oh.  Yah.  Probably.  And he's not a bad guy."

Have I mentioned how much I love this kid? :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Too Short By An Inch... :(

We were going to go tubing today, but J is only 41 inches tall, and only three years old.  The requirement is 42 inches tall or 4 years old.  I thought we could just put him on our laps, but no go.  One stinking inch.  :(

He kept telling us "I big!  I big enough!"  And when we told him he was just a little too short, he cried and cried.  And then he said, "I will eat a lot of food, then we can go!"  He does grow fast, but I think it's going to be a couple of months before he gets this inch.  Bummer.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Trials of Being Three...

Poor J woke up this morning with a fever and lots of tears.  Not sure what was going on, exactly, but the generic  equivalent of Tylenol meltaways took the fever down and he has spent the morning playing and watching episodes of Dora on Netflix.  His poor day took a turn for the worse when he decided that he should hit the TV with his hands and various toys like blocks and bats, even after being warned that he'd lose the privilege of watching TV if he kept it up.  He kept it up, and I turned the TV off.  Long crying fits ensued, and then we had this conversation:

J (crawling on my lap): *unintelligible words through tears and sobs*
Me:  "I'd love to hug you, but you can't wail loudly on my lap because it hurts my ears, okay?"
J:  "O *sniffle* tay.  I wanna watch DOOO-AAAAAH." and starts crying again.
Me:  "I'm sure you do.  Maybe you can try again after your nap."
J:  "I said I sorry."
Me:  "I know you did.  And I forgive you.  And if you can show me you can be a big boy and obey, we will put Dora on again after your nap."
J: "*mumble, mumble* hard a be a J"
Me (thinking I heard him wrong):  "Wait.  Did you just say it's hard to be J?"
J (scowling):  "YES! It is harda be J!  I wanna watch Do-Ah."

I had to hug him so he couldn't see me trying not to laugh.  I would have hugged him anyway, because he's right.  Sometimes it is hard to be three and to have a mom who won't let you do what you want.  It just surprised me to hear him say it out loud,and the sheer cuteness made me want to giggle. (Those of you who know him know how cute he is when he gets mad.)  And yes, I'm still making him wait until after nap to try again.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Praying With a Three Year Old

J (at every meal): "My prayer.  Thank you my food.  Amen."  He has a hard time waiting to start eating.  :)

J (at bedtime after we say the Lord's Prayer together):  "Dear God,  Thank you mine house and thank you mine bed and thank you mine big robot and mine sorta big robots and mine little robots and thank you mine bear and mine other bear and mine nee-tee (blankie) and mine pillow and mine mama and mine sissy and mine dad and mine yard and mine cars and mine balls and mine toofbrush...."  He likes his bedtime snuggles, and this way they last for a lot longer.  :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

When J doesn't want to eat...

This kid of mine does some pretty amusing things when he decides he'd rather not eat what's on his plate.

Shortly after he turned two, he wanted to skip his dinner for dessert, and I told him his food needed to be gone before he got any treats.  He thought for a minute, then got down off his chair, grabbed his plate and dumped all the food in the sink.  "Food ALL gone, Mama!"  Ummm...not exactly what we were going for but technically he complied.  We are more careful with how we word things now.  :)

Last night, J was putting up a fuss about his meal and was telling his dad that he was finished eating:
Dad: "J, you haven't eaten your food yet.  Look. (points at pieces of food)  Chicken...chicken...chicken...chicken."
J (points at same pieces of food): "Dad, look.  No food."
Bet he was wishing his finger was a magic wand.  Goof ball.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Poor J is so used to having his hair in a buzz cut because he won't sit still for a haircut, that he hasn't needed his hair combed for probably all of his life that he can remember.  The last haircut he got was a little longer on the top, and it's been growing.  This morning he had a bath before church and after drying him off and getting him dressed, his hair was a little scary.  I got a brush and headed out after him.  He took one look at me, and ran, screaming. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!  Don't brush mine hair, Mom!!"  I tried to explain that it was only going to take a second and wouldn't hurt.  His response?  "But I NOT a GIRL!  I don't want to be a girl!"  Guess what...I still brushed his hair, and he is still a boy.

Poor J.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

*How* old do you think I am, exactly?

I was talking with B in the car the other day about TV shows.  I was explaining that while we didn't have a TV at home, the Cosby show was pretty popular when I was little, and that the first Star Wars movie came out the year I was born.  She pauses, looks rather confused, and then says this:

"Wait.  Those are in color, right?  They had COLOR TV around when you were little?"

Oh dear.  I guess I'm officially old now.  :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Honey & A Hon

An early version of the birds and the bees talk with a 4 year old....

N (telling me about the family in the movie he watched at school today): "Ab. There was a family in the movie. I know that because there was a honey and a hon and then their son..." (Then he explained some more of the story line, which I honestly can't remember.)

Me: "A Honey and a Hon?"

N: "Yes. A lady is the Honey and she gets married to the Hon and then they have sons. That's how it works."

Then we talked about how in some families the parents have daughters...and then we left it at that.

I'll leave any further instruction up to his mom and dad. :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This Kid Just Wants To Be Happy

Poor J does not like being sweet talked in the morning.

Me: "Good morning, buddy. Are you my sugar?"
J: *scowls* "No."
Me: "Okay, then how about my pumpkin?"
J: *scowls bigger* NO!"
Me: "Well, fine then. What are you?"
J: *wags his finger at me* "I just TID (kid) J! And I want to be happy."

I hate when the things that make us happy are polar opposites. So I guess I'll just stick to thinking my sweet talking. :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Going Number 3?

Listening to boys and their potty talk is interesting.  So just in case you ever hear the phrase "I'm going number 3!" around here, I thought I'd share S's explanation that he gave to J today.  I'll spare you the rest of the conversation.  You are welcome.

Per S: "J, If you need to tell anyone what you are going:  Number One is pee, and Number Two is poops, and Number Three is toots."

So now you know.

Señor Sassafras

I'm not sure where this sassy pants of a son came from, because his big sister isn't sassy at all.  So he hasn't had this sort of behavior modeled for him often.  Still, he's full out attitude about 60% of the time these days.  Typical example:

J is busy wildly hitting the bottom of JT's bouncy seat (and the toy bar above it) with his dinosaur, so I calmly remind him that we don't hit things that the baby is in.  He ignores me, so I tell him again.

Me:  "J!  Mom just told you not to hit JT's chair while he's in it.  You need to stop now."  
J (in his best sassafras tone complete with eye rolls and head shaking):  "Mom.  I am not going to hit baby JT with my T-Rex.  Calm down."
Me:  "Ummm...yes.  I will "calm down" while you take your sassy mouth to time out."

And scene.