My Amanda

July 30, 1978-September 27, 1978

 

My daughter would have been 38 years old today. I held her for nearly two months before she drifted away… I have been asked many times about the loss of a child so young; a child of any age. Maybe even more so since Aaron was so gravely injured. And I opened that door when I wrote about Amanda in my book. Questions like; How did you survive the loss of a child? Do you think they remain infants in Heaven? Or, do you think they age as the years go by? Surviving any loss is a personal journey that isn’t like anyone elses. There is no right way or wrong way to “get on with life.” And it can take years before we even want to begin to pull ourselves up again. On some days, I think of Amanda as an infant in my arms-rocking her in the nursery that was always shaded by the fullness of the flowering Mimosa trees outside the window. On other days, I imagine her as an adult. But, always she is my baby child…always I miss her…

I have no answers, no understanding, one day I will…

When a child is born, and stays but a short time in this life, angles wings seem to surround them, protect them, comfort them. It is as tho for those first few weeks, they exist between where they came from and this world where they have been born. We hold them tenderly, watching quietly as their sleeping faces slowly smile, grin broadly, cooing-speaking in the language of the heavens. Then, with a rich assurance of familiarity, reveal to us the Devine presence that fills their dreams. That glimpse from where they came, is what we hold onto. Somewhere deep within our own soul-no words to describe-we come to understand…they could not stay…they were not meant to stay…it hurts…it always hurts…it gets a little  easier as time passes…but, it still hurts…it will always hurt…

Baby blue, were the color of her eyes. Like a breath of Spring she came and left, and I still don’t know why…

My Amanda…

image

Daddy On My Mind

My daddy is always with me. He was always the one who I could count on to be in my corner, to be there with an encouraging word and to show me his forgiving heart no matter what I had done. He was the example of unconditional love throughout my life.

I learned from my daddy what it was to be a parent, a friend, a companion, and most of all-how to love unconditionally. The memories I hold dear are the ones when my daddy had an arm around my shoulders. When I was half his size we would go for walks in the evening after dinner. Just him and me-slowly walking to the corner of our street in Fresno, California. That big hand resting on my shoulder made me proud. I felt his pride in me too.

IMG_0431

My dad was the oldest of three boys. A little James Dean look going on here.IMG_0429

On his side of the family I was the first girl, the first granddaughter on both sides of my family. And I was a prissy little girl.Scan 7

My daddy was always watching as I grew, teaching me to walk, holding my bike as he taught me to ride, sitting in the passenger seat as I learned to drive a car, and as I grew into an adult.

My daddy was not one to talk a lot about anything. He was a quite man, a strong man, a man of convictions when it came to family. When he did say something to someone about me, about my job with Walmart, about me working to start the Sam’s Clubs, there was pride in his voice. It made me proud to hear his pride in me. I guess that has always been the most important thing in my world-for my daddy to be proud of me.

I cherished the four mile walks that we took when I would go back home for a visit. We would get up before anyone in the house would stir. My three children would sleep another hour or so as daddy and I would head out the door. Those times were when we could talk about anything, and it never went any further.

When my baby girl passed, daddy held me even when I couldn’t sobbed anymore. He tried to pull the pain out of me and take it on himself, so I wouldn’t hurt. When my big brother passed, (he was two years older than me) daddy was the one who held me as we sobbed together. He tried to pull the pain out of me and take it on himself, again.

Then daddy passed…I could still feel his arms holding me…and I’m sure I always will…

 

 

Remember Our Women Service Members

It seems to be easy to think about this nations wounded as men who are on the front lines fighting, traveling through war zones, or trying to keep peace in counties trying to establish their own democracy. But, they are not alone.

The women who serve our country, our sisters, daughters, mothers, wives, or friends, are with them in those far away places. As of December 2013, there were 214,000 active duty and 118,781 reserve women serving in all branches of our military. They are often put in perilous danger. And many have died or been wounded too.

These are the most recent statistics I could find. In December of 2013 the VA stopped releasing the number of non-fatal casualties of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. All that can be said with any certainty is that as of that date more than 900,000 service men and women had been treated at VA hospitals and clinics since returning from these war zones, and the monthly rate of new patients as of the end of 2012 was around 10,000.

In the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan more than 283,000 women have been deployed to these two countries. More than 800 female service members have been wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. And 146 women have given their lives while serving against the war on terrorism. 110 of these women died as a result of serving in Iraq.

Although the prohibition against serving in combat was lifted in 1994 for women service members, it has been the policy to exclude women from ground combat units. However, in Iraq and Afghanistan, women have served as foot soldiers during door-to-door operations and they have been in convoy escort missions. About 20,000 women are still serving, mostly in Afghanistan.

So, remember our women service members. They too have given much, given some, or have given all, so we can continue to live our lives with our freedoms.

image

Mothers of Today

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all you moms on our special day!  I hope your day is filled with the love you deserve! You are the strength behind those who have made this nation what it is today. You have cradled and taught with love and compassion those who have grown to be the leaders of our country through the years. You are raising up the next generation that will be responsible for the future endeavors to maintain our freedoms. Be proud of who you are, and the importance of your passion to be mothers! God bless you all, and may He hold you firmly in His hands.

Bitter or Better

When our life changes because of an unforeseen circumstance, it can change how we see ourselves and how others look at us. This can be something that changes us on the inside – where no one else can see, or it can be an injury that alters our appearance – something that everyone can see. We each have to decide if this is going to make us bitter or better.

I think we can all say that life has thrown us whirling in the wind a few times. Most times we just keep on going after dusting ourselves off. Sometimes we cry and stomp our feet about how someone has “done us wrong,” but we still keep doing the things that must be done. And life continues, a little different, but it still continues. These are not the types of changes I’m talking about.

When I look at my son, and all that he has been through in the last ten years as a wounded warrior, I’m humbled. This young man took what would have made most men crumble, and allowed it to make him better not bitter.

When I look at my daughter, the mother of a Down Syndrome child for the past 11 years, again I am humbled. Sarah has taken a child that some told her to throw away, put in a home, go live your life, and made herself better not bitter.

I can’t imagine life without the examples of strength, courage, and commitment that my children show me every day. They make my life better.