Saturday, May 9, 2015

Saying Goodbye To J

I wrote the following letter on the night I found out J had passed away. Writing is therapeutic to me and at the time, it was the only way I could process my grief. I wrote from my hurting heart and I haven't touched it since that night. Today we celebrated Birth Mother's Day and it became so clear to me that it was time to share this last letter with the world.

She wore purple for her birthmama since it was her favorite color.
We wanted to honor J by allowing Xiomara to do something for her on this day. A few months ago, it occurred to me that an apple tree would be the perfect thing to plant in her memory. An apple seed lives on forever. Even when we are all gone from this earth, that tree will still stand and bear fruit; I couldn't think of a better way to honor J. Each spring it will bloom declaring that all things become new once again. Come fall, it's branches will be laden with fruit that show the life it gives. He really does make all things new.

The tree is planted right outside her bedroom window, so she can look at it whenever she wants.

It was a beautiful day filled with only a few tears & praise to God for the beauty in what is.

Happy {Birth} Mother's Day, J! We love you and love always wins.


Dear J,

This will likely be the last letter I will ever publicly write to you. I'm sure in the future, I will write many more to you, but I'm guessing they will all be private just for my therapy, and eventually for Xiomara.

I found out tonight that you passed away this week.

And my heart is absolutely broken. For you. For Xiomara. For your family that is grieving just as deeply as I am tonight.

I found out through someone you and I both loved, and I'm so thankful I found out that way rather than any other way. I think you would have wanted it that way as well.

In the end, it doesn't really matter how you died, but rather how you lived. I know, with all my heart that there was not a day that went by that you didn't live loving those around you. It may not have looked like either you or I would have imagined, but you definitely loved.

When I got the call, I just knew. I can't explain how, other than to say that you have been on my mind this past month more than I ever can possibly explain. In a way it makes sense, as you truly were a part of our family. It comforts me a bit knowing that I prayed for you more in this last month than I have in a very long time.

I got off the phone and Chris sat in silence with tears running down his cheeks while I sobbed. Every single dream I had of Xiomara one day having a relationship with you, being able to talk with you, and ask you questions; that dream shattered with one phone call. It's a bit ironic thinking that one phone call is all it took to change our lives in the first place, with that initial phone call saying you chose us, and yet here I sit tonight absolutely hating that phone.

I feel devastated. For you and her. I wonder if I let you know enough how much your gift meant to us? I know it pained you so much to make that decision and I felt that pain deeply, and I loved you all the more for it. I wonder if you realized how much a part of us you really were? It kills me knowing I will never see you again on this side of heaven. That Xiomara will never get to meet you if you two both desired one day.

My only comfort is knowing that you live on through our little girl who looks and acts so much like her first mama.

I'm not sure how to tell her. I mean how does one tell your daughter that her first mama is in heaven with Jesus?  After the phone call, Chris and I sat and prayed and asked God to guide us when it is the right time to tell her and how to tell her. By the time others read this, we will have told her as I refuse to tell the world before I tell our daughter.

I took a shower tonight and let my salty tears mix in with the hot water from the shower. I'm not so sure the sound of the shower completely drowned out my sobs though, and tonight Chris will hold me tight as I grieve in a way I never thought I would have to do.

We are sending flowers to your precious mama and G & G. I never thought I would have to pick out flowers to send to your funeral! It seems completely surreal. But I remember you telling me you loved purple, and so in honor of you I made sure to send purple flowers. They are called Healing Tears and I really hope they do just that, because right now I know I'm not the only one who needs healing. I only wish we would have known sooner, so we could have been there.

I'll be saving every little thing I have from you or about you for Xiomara. If anything, this is a good reminder to print things out that have been sitting in files or e-mails for years now.

No matter what, we will keep on doing what we always said we would do; love Xiomara and make sure she knows how loved she was by you. That is one thing that I know will never change.

I love you, J! It seemed only fitting to say goodbye in the same way I began, by writing one last letter to you. I look forward to one day meeting face to face with Jesus and praising Him together for bringing a sweet little girl named Xiomara into both of our lives. May you forever know the gift you gave us is the most precious one I have ever received.

May you rest in peace.

With much love,


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Going Through Grief {Our First Mother's Day Without J}

It seems unbelievable that it has already been almost 4 months since Xiomara's birthmom unexpectedly passed away. Sometimes it feels as if time has passed so quickly, and then other times it feels like it crawls by.

I've been getting through my grief rather slowly. I think if there is one thing I have realized through this is that everyone grieves differently. Sometimes I do really well and then Xiomara does something and it hits me that J is really gone and that she won't get to see Xiomara grow up. Those days are the worst.

I'm continually thankful for my husband who guides me through this journey. Also, my friends have held me up more times than I can count. If you are a friend of someone who is going through a grief journey, I know it can be hard, but please don't be afraid to reach out to them and love them through that time. Sometimes I felt as if I could breathe a little easier on the tough days just because I had a friend supporting me through prayer.

A sweet friend sent me this in a text on one of my consumed by grief days. It was exactly what I needed to see for Xiomara's life at that exact moment.

This week, grief has washed over me more than any other week except maybe that first week I found out. You see Mother's Day is coming up on Sunday. Furthermore, Birthmother's Day is on Saturday. We have always sent a gift, a card, flowers, a letter etc. to J on this day. This is our first time we won't. I know the firsts are always the hardest, but I wasn't quite prepared for it to be this hard. I just wish I could send her one last letter filled with pictures of our sweet girl. Two nights this week I lay awake past 2 a.m. in tears as my brain would not shut off the grief, memories, and thoughts. I've gone through many of my days tearing up over the littlest things. 

The only comfort has been music. Music has always been a mainstay in my life and I turn to it often. This week more so than before, I've found myself constantly going to my piano and just playing, crying out to God, and throwing all my emotion into song as I sing and play. Often as I play, I look up to the words above my piano and realize it was no mistake that just 6 days before J passed away I shared my phrase for 2015.

"He will quiet you with His love."

If there is anything God has been doing through this, it has been loving me. I may not understand it all, I may cry out a why, but I do feel His love surround, and yes, even quiet me.

In case anyone else is going through a hard time in their life, I thought I would share with you a few of the songs that have helped me in the past few months. They are not all worship songs, but rather just songs that have a special meaning in these hard moments.

Everlasting God: "Through all the troubles that surround, you are the rock that never fails, you never fail."

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail): "Where feet may fail & fear surrounds me, you've never failed and you won't start now."

Lost Stars: I promise I did not pick this because of my love for Adam Levine. Rather, I love the general thought that we need to cherish each day. In particular, I love, "Who are we? Just a speck of dust within the galaxy?" and "Turn the page, maybe we'll find a brand new ending. Where we're dancing in our tears." I've worked so hard on dancing through my tears that this has just really touched my heart.

I Am Not Alone: This song has given me so much peace and honestly I could quote every single lyric as it washes over my grief, but in particular, "In the midst of deep sorrow, I see your light is breaking through. The dark of night will not overtake me, I am pressing into you."

Lastly, if you wouldn't mind committing to praying me through this weekend, I would be forever grateful. Specifically, I ask for prayers for J's family. They are no doubt hurting more than I am this weekend without their daughter and mother with them. Also, please pray for our precious Xiomara. At 4 years old, she knows a lot more about what is going on than most think. She has a lot of questions, sometimes tears, and sometimes she just needs to be loved extra hard.