Fifty Six Years Later…

6/29/2015

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We never made it to the cemetery before we moved to Utah, and it left me feeling guilty. It felt like I moved away and never said goodbye to my daughter. That probably sounds strange, but those who have buried a loved one will probably be more likely to understand. So Memorial Day weekend we decided to pack up our car and made the 3 1/2 hour drive home to Idaho. 

When we pulled into the cemetery I immediately noticed we weren’t alone. There are two groups of family plots next to Preslee’s headstone that tend to go all out when decorating. Sometimes they don’t even take the decor down from the last couple of holidays, so it will look like a rainbow of colors surrounding their loved ones. My style, is more simple, I like Preslee’s headstone to be the focus. But there is no judgment on my end, I’ve grown to appreciate the contrast. But I was curious to finally see who the people were behind the scenes.

There were about 4-5 elderly people standing just a few feet away from our plots. They had multiple bins on the grass with their contents dumped out. They were decorating a handful of headstones with silk flowers, windmills, and I noticed a teddy bear. But out of all the headstones being decorated, there was one that received quite a bit more attention than the others. I was hoping they would leave before we did, so I could take a closer look.

One of the people, an elderly lady eventually walked over. She seemed liked a character, dressed quite fashionably in a long fur coat, her short hair curled, and very large sun glasses covering her eyes. I couldn’t help but instantly like her. She complimented my large pot of flowers, I explained I always buy something to take home - to remember our daughter throughout the summer. She walked to the front of the headstone, and read the dates. “Two?” My stomach dropped, “No, just 18 months.” Thinking, “We were robbed six months.”

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“Oh, I’m so sorry,”  she quietly said, and as she turned around to face me, she said, “I also lost my daughter at…about that same age.” I immediately expressed my condolences. We spoke about a few things, when I finally asked, “Can I ask how you lost your daughter?”

I saw a look come over her face that seemed all too familiar: Oh, it really was horrible. So long ago…I was a young mom, cleaning my house. I had a flimsy mop bucket that only had a few inches of water in it. My kids were playing and I left the room for a short minute, when my son came running to me and said ‘She’s dead!’ I thought maybe she was napping on my bed, but to my horror I found her head first in the mop bucket.”

She went on to explain that toddler’s heads are heavier than their body, and they can literally drown in a couple inches of water. She then said, “It broke me. I idolized my little girl, she meant everything to me. She was only 14 months old.”  I recognized the tone in her voice, I was aware of how she said it, it’s the same tone I use when explaining Preslee drowned, people are so quick to judge the parents.

But there was no judgment present, because my heart ached for not only her, but for me. The pain was so obviously present while she told her story, that I couldn’t help but ask, “How long has it been?” She replied, “You know, I’m old now, I’m not quite sure.” A lady, who I later learned was her sister, and standing a few feet away called out, “1959.”

In my head, 1959! 1959?  Thats…56 years! Fifty six years and the pain is still this raw at times? I panicked. We’re approaching 5 years, 50+ more years of this? Ugh. Even though deep down I knew that grief will always be apart of my life, at that moment, I felt defeated. Fifty six years seemed just too much to bare. I looked the sweet lady in the eyes and gave her a hug and said, “Our daughter also drowned.” She gasped, “You’re kidding me! I didn’t know with it only being a few years, if you could talk about it yet.”

I assured her I could and proceeded to tell her the story. She kept hugging me over and over again.

As she walked back over to her family headstones’ she paused in front of the one that was decorated a little more than the others. I instantly knew it was her daughter’s. Still, 56 years later, I understood so much of her life, and yet, I just met her.

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Now that it’s June, and the kids are out, please, please be careful when around any type of water. Whether it be a swimming pool, mop bucket, or canal, it only takes a couple of seconds for a child to drown. People often ask me if swimming is hard for me? Though it’s stressful, and I definitely have my moments, sometimes I struggle more watching the people around me. I’ll admit I’m paranoid, but there has been more than one time that I’ve actually moved locations at a pool, because parents aren’t paying attention to their children. I begin to panic for them, and I feel like I need to silently watch their kids. And I can’t possibly watch my three, along with a complete stranger’s kids. I’m not judging them, I’m just nervous because I know what stems from a drowning,, and I don’t wish that upon anyone.  Click {here} for some helpful tips for parents when swimming with your kids this summer.

I hope your summer is sunny, hot, and safe. 

Love to you all. 

{Guest Post} Children Are Irreplaceable

6/25/2015

I recently stumbled across an article, written by Lexi, from Scribbles and Crumbs. I’m not sure why I connected so much with her words, but its probably because I can relate to every aspect of her post. Her words spoke straight to my heart, and I’m sure they will impact every other Angel Mom who reads it. She also does an amazing job explaining a grieving mother’s way of thinking to those who who have never lost a child.

Thank you Lexi for allowing me to share it.

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My friend lost her daughter a couple of months ago. Within a short period of time, she has become my dearest grieving momma friend. It’s a tie that is so strange– it can make you feel like you’ve known a person for years. You skip so many stages and go straight to the heart stage– where you are known in a way few understand. With grieving moms, we understand a pain that no one should. We can speak volumes to one another in a sentence. We can move mountains with a simple “You are not alone,” because  the truth is that we are never alone.

This sweet, sweet momma friend of mine celebrated her daughter’s birthday on the beach last month. She would have been four, but she passed away a month before. While she was on the beach releasing balloons, a woman and her daughter walked by and offered to take a picture. When my friend told them why they were releasing balloons, the woman said to her, “You guys are so young. You can have more.”

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time I heard those words: either to myself or secondhand from another grieving mom.

While I believe there were good intentions behind the remark, I still have something I want to say, and essentially it all sums up to this: children are not replaceable.

I cannot count the number of times I have heard a story from another grieving mom where someone told her, “You can still have another” as advice to get through their child’s death.

It’s something said with good intentions, but let’s be totally honest now: it’s ignorant. Honestly though, it’s a thought that may have crossed my mind a year ago if I were giving a grieving parent advice.

The change in my perspective occurred sometime after realizing I might lose my son and sometime before I held him as the breath left his lungs.

This is the boy that I loved as soon as I saw two pink lines appear on a pregnancy test early one hot July morning. I sat nervously, and as the lines appeared, so did a little spark of love and at that moment, a deep, unbreakable bond was created between a mother and her child.

This is the boy that was placed in my arms and then taken right away, and for the first time, I realized that the universal, unspoken fear of every parent could become my reality.

This is the boy that grew and healed with a strength that could not be rivaled.

This is the boy that searched for my voice across the room and whose face lit up at the site of his momma, the one who knew him like the back of her hand.

The boy who fit perfectly in my arms, with his face nestled into my neck.

This is my boy.

The one I have cried a million tears for, and I will cry millions more until we are reunited.

My boy. My son. My child.

He is irreplaceable.

And I say this to all of you… Each child is special. We love them uniquely. If we were blessed with enough time with our children, we get to know their personalities, their quirks, their sweet side. We get to know their favorite things to do— whether it’s how they like to be held or what their favorite foods are. We learn them and we love them, and a place grows in our hearts that is exclusively meant for them, and when they leave our arms, that place still stays, and it aches.

Trust me, it aches.

And maybe over time the ache lessens, but it is still always there, and it sits with an emptiness with the lack of their presence, a longing to hold them tight, and a hope for the day when we will be together again. Maybe over time, the ache quiets, but that place in our hearts that was made for them, it stays forever. Our children are irreplaceable.

In our hearts. In our families. In this world, our children are forever irreplaceable. No matter how many more children a person can have, there is no possible way to replace the void that a child left. No possible way. They are forever ours, no matter if they are still in our arms. They are irreplaceable.

They are forever irreplaceable.

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This post was originally published on Scribbles and Crumbs. Lexi is a mom to Lincoln here and Charlie in heaven. Charlie passed away on October 27, 2014 at nearly seven months old after a lifelong battle with congenital heart disease and pulmonary hypertension. Follow Lexi on Facebook for more.

Ledger 4 years Old

6/19/2015

For Mother’s Day and Father’s Day I asked Ledger a few questions that I wanted to document :Use this! father's day

I hope you all have a wonderful Father’s Day this weekend.
We certainly are lucky for all the great Dad’s in our life.

Is it easier, now that they are older?

6/16/2015

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Today I made a spur of the moment decision, I wanted to paint some chairs. I looked down at my boys, and noticed their uncoordinated outfits and their uncombed hair. But it was going to be a quick trip, so I quickly ushered them into the car and told myself nobody would even notice. We drove 10 minutes away to the paint store and when we pulled into the parking lot, noticed a big sign in the window saying they no longer sold the paint we were looking for. There was address listed below and after plugging it into my GPS, I learned it was 20 minutes away. I sat for a minute, wondering if I wanted to make the drive, and then thought, why not?

So I jumped on the freeway, hit traffic, felt grateful for a GPS, and eventually made it in downtown SLC. I’m not sure what happened during the drive, but when I pulled my boys out of the car, they were completely wired. Cannon and Cruiz immediately took off in different directions and I chased them around the parking lot, praying no cars would pull in. I finally lassoed the two of them, and walked into the store while holding both their hands with Ledger following behind. A lady immediately stepped up and asked what I needed help with, and led me over to the paint sample colors. While I searched for a turquoise paint, my boys went crazy. It was just like our experience at the airport last January {Read Here}. Both twins were running different ways, I was extremely flustered and started cussing the small paint store who didn’t have carts that I could throw them into. (Ha the place was full of working men who obviously need carts)  Ledger could tell how upset I was getting, so he began yelling, “Brudder, come back HERE!” and grabbing the back of their shirts which would cause whichever boy he had to fall backwards onto Ledger’s legs and then they would both topple over. And that would of course start a full our brotherly brawl…

And while Ledger wrestled one, I’d run after the other, walk back to talk to the lady, and try to stop the boy in my arms from wiggling their way out. Cannon’s main goal was to try and pull paint off the shelves as fast as he could. Awesome. Cruiz was just following his brother’s lead.

Suddenly a family that I grew up with in our community came to mind. I remember being a teenager and looking at all of their boys and thinking, “They are soo out of control. Don’t they discipline?” And at that very moment I realized we were THAT family. And those words just blurted right out of my mouth, while I was looking at the lady showing me a paint color.

“We’re totally that family!”

She just smiled, let out a soft chuckle continued talking about paint. She never said anything judgmental, and as I ran after boys she patiently waited for me to return to finish her sentence. She even reminded me to grab my phone when walking up to the front desk.

While the paint was mixing, I threw the boys on a random couch in the front of the store and stood in front of them and said, “Don’t get off.”

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And as I thought more about that family with all boys from Rexburg, I realized they are now older, and all seem to be turning out okay. So while I stood in front of my boys and threatened them with their lives, I started encouraging myself.  “You’ve got this, you just have to make it through the next 16 years… They don’t need to be the President of the USA, they just have to turn out somewhat normal. Yeah, you’ve got this Ash! ” My glare/scowl eventually turned into a smile because I realized there was hope for my three little hellions, and noticed a guy next to me  staring as I was smiling at my boys who were now wrestling on the couch… undoubtedly thinking, “Doesn’t she discipline? They are so out of control.”

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To answer the question I’m asked nearly every day, “Is it easier, now that your boys are older?”

Yes and no.

Today… No.

I’m just grateful how nonjudgmental the lady was who surprised me and carried out my box of paint supplies to my car as I literally drug two twin boys who refused to walk… Yeah, we’ve got this.

Ledger’s 4th Birthday

6/14/2015

I can’t believe we finally have a four year old!

Grandma and Grandpa Siddoway made the trip down, so we turned the entire weekend into a celebration.

I can’t believe its already been four years since Dr. L placed Ledger into my arms,
we certainly have we enjoyed every minute of his life.

We love you Ledger!

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