Thursday, March 31, 2011

Maddie's T's

Her room screamed teenage girl just like any other 15 year old girl's room. A closet stuffed with today's hottest fashion, a white board with notes from girlfriends, trophies from grade school, flowers from special occasions, everything except the table full of green plants left over from her funeral last August.

Madison's story is Jocie's story. At age 15 her life ended in a tragic accident. Her mother and I are emotionally connected even though we had never previously met until after Madison's angel day.

I listened through my streaming tears as Maddie's mom carefully placed each treasured T-shirt on the pile. Each one has a story and I easily memorized them all. This one from soccer, this one her favorite brand of clothing, this one because her sweet cousin was a Bobcat, and this one because Maddie was a rival Mustang. And this one has her own handwriting...priceless!

The first cut I make into Maddie's t-shirts humbles me, heals, me and shakes me with grief. A comforting arm from Dean and I carefully stitch together a memory of a beautiful teenage girl in her favorite shade of blue.

 Who would guess that the sweet quilter I call at the last minute to machine stitch the quilt would have a close connection to Maddie. Her younger sister was Maddie's best friend all through Elementary. Of course she insisted the quilting was her gift to the family.

"Where did you go? I miss you seems like forever since you've been gone." A haunting note Maddie had taped to her wall...I added it to the label on the quilt.

Today would be Maddie's 16th birthday. Her Mom misses her completely...I know exactly how she feels.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Advocate Breaks for Spring

While Henry was resting in the NICU and learning how to eat properly...Lawyer girl flew in from LA for a quick Spring Break visit and spent some quality time with "niece baby".

Niece baby learned many things from her Auntie Didi...including but not limited to...
  • The current economic climate of our country.

  • Izzy is the Princess of the might as well get used to it.
  • If you want to capture everyone's attention...just sit and look cute and squishy all day.

  •  Remember...Izzy equals princess.

  •  Papa is a sucker for chubby, pink baby girls.

  •  It's a rough job having all these people doting on you, so you might as well make the most of it. 

  •  Instead of just drinking bottles of formula Olivia, you should start demanding tastier steak, pasta, brownies, etc.

  • Uncle Chet is a chick magnet with his mad guitar skills..."Carry on my wayward son, there'll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest...don't you cry no more."

  •  Auntie Didi is the best Aunt in the whole world.

  •  Auntie Didi knows all about your Mamma...even some secrets she's willing to share.

  •  If you can't go for a stroller ride outside, strolling around the house can be a great adventure.

  • Piano playing is in your future...and you're going to love it!

And Olivia taught Auntie Didi something new... tilt your head to the side and everyone will clap and laugh! Clever girl.

We miss you already Auntie Didi!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Plus One Makes Four

The big day is finally here...coming home day for entire week after he arrived in this world..

Olivia and I had lots to do, like practicing her reading skills. Henry will love having stories read to him.

We had to test out the bassinet to see if it was ready for Henry. "It seems like just yesterday that I slept in the bassinet Nana."

Oh wait it was...

Diapers are ready...Olivia's are on the left, Henry's on the right. You should see the stacks they have in the closet. Diaper subscription from Amazon Mom...Cass swears by it!

Cribs are set up..."Nana, when are you going to finish Henry's bumper pads and quilt?"

Baby brother's chair is all put together.

Olivia and Nana test out the self-timer feature on her new camera. We had some time to play while waiting for Henry to come home. Until finally...

Welcome home Henry!

Big sister and baby brother meet for the very first time.

"Henry, come and play with me OK?"

"Ummm...Aunt Anna, Henry doesn't seem to do too much does he...seems a bit boring."

A little glimpse at life in 1 week old Henry and  6 1/2 month old Olivia's house for a little while...

Time to feed baby.

Time to feed newborn baby.

Time to play "blastoff" with baby.

Time to snuggle with newborn baby.

Trying to capture a family photo...Olivia wants to pull Mom's hair.

Olivia wants to pull Dad's hair.

Their lives are full...and happy...did I mention their lives are full! Momma Cass... you like marvelous!

And one more...then it's time for tubs...and bottles...and stories...and bedtime...and...and...and...

As for me...March has been a hurricane of emotions. The gift of new life and the reminder of lost life. I'm quite certain the timing of this newborn babe is not coincidental, but intentional. A blessing from heaven, a hint that a joyful life continues to swirl around us. Our angel Jocie surely kissed Henry on his tiny head, you can almost see the imprint she left.

The Garlick Press is simply giddy at the birth of Olivia's little brother Henry.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Angel Day

As day broke on the morning of March 22, 2008 I was giddy with anticipation of a Saturday ski day. Nearing the end of our ski season, I had really been looking forward to this day with my family. A fabulous lunch on the mountain of grilling burgers, fresh salsa and chips, chocolate dipped macaroons and of course snow-chilled Diet Cokes were part of the plan.

Although the early morning sun shone brightly in the bluebird sky, the air was crisp and bitter cold for a late March day. As we pulled into the upper parking lot at Beaver Mountain the car thermometer read -4 degrees. Dione, Jocie and little brother Chet declared they were not getting out of the car until it had "warmed up" to at least 0 degrees outside.

Dean and I hopped on our skis for a quick run down the mountain...just the two of us. All of The Beav's runs were freshly groomed corduroy and coupled with cold temperatures, were very fast. Dean skied down the ever familiar Stan's Bonanza run and maybe made one turn. I followed (not so close) behind. The frigid air temp at high speeds made my nose sting and eyes water despite my goggles. The mountain still mostly vacant, I delighted in the energy of zipping down an empty run.

Returning to a car of slumbering children, Dean snapped this quick pic before we rustled them out and into their boots. While taking Princess Izzy for a potty break, Jocie spotted girlfriends Sid and Autumn, begging her to come ski with them.

And off she went.

My parting words were "Lunch is at noon, don't be late!" And then added a quote from our favorite lifty "Have fun, be safe!" followed by "I love you"! My message probably barely audible over the music plugged into her helmet, she mumbled back "Luv you too!"

I would see her one more time that morning... at the top of Harry's Dream getting off the lift with the girls. Normally she would be wearing her marijuana-leaf-looking ski suit, but not today. She was dressed completely in black from helmet to boot. The new black jacket a gift from her Daddy. As she skied off the lift, her brilliant red hair splayed loosely over her shoulders like a waterfall. It was as if the light of the sun shone brighter on Jocie and only Jocie at that moment. She sparkled! I leaned over to Dione and remarked at her beauty, "Doesn't she look stunning today?" Jocie waved at us, and skied off giggling with the girlfriends.

That glorious and final image of Jocie illuminated at the top of the mountain is something I will always treasure.  When dark memories of the day invade my thoughts, I replace them with this image. Today is the 3rd anniversary of Jocie's angel day. On the first I was still clearly devastated, on the second, learning how to breathe again. And today on the third anniversary I am writing...I hear birds outside my door, snowflakes bouncing off the bedroom window panes, and the promise of another day spent wrapped around my family.  So from me to you...hug your sweet loved ones just a little tighter today will you?

Monday, March 21, 2011

O Henry

Welcome to the world little Henry!

Walking into the NICU, Bob was beaming about the birth of his son Henry. "Did you see he has Cassandra's long fingers and toes, I think he looks just like her". Such a devoted hubby hardly leaving his wife's side during the long delivery and corresponding stay in the hospital.

 I loved how the nurses combed this little guy's hair.

Baby Henry has charmed the nurses in the NICU so well, that they are unwilling to let him go just yet. Big sister Olivia is going to have to show him how to eat...she is the master of eating! Bob and Cass hope to have him home soon.

Sweet baby Henry, just hours old in this photo. We have just a few pics, as Henry has been busy recovering from his birth day!

Well hello little Henry...I'm your Nana...Olivia and I have been waiting for you. We have lots of things to share with you when you get a little bigger. Don't forget that Olivia is much older and knowledgeable than you right now...she'll be able to show you the ropes in your new home.

Every once in a while something unexpected happens amongst the randomness of living...miracle baby #2 has arrived. I adore them both wholeheartedly.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Labor Day

It's midnight on labor labor day that is! I'm anxiously glancing at my phone waiting for the first picture of my newest grand baby.  

Today...I spent the day watching my first baby prepare to have a baby while I played with her beautiful first baby. It was an experience I'll never forget. Cass's gorgeous blonde hair falling on her face as she grimaces through each contraction. The familiar pains of my own constricting tummy from her birth still imprinted on my mind. My daughter is strong and brave...I marvel at her grace!

We laughed and cried and recalled stories of Cassandra's own birth day many years ago. Remembering how Unni and Gramps brought Dean doughnuts into the delivery room while I ate ice chips. I advised Bob to leave his food at home. Olivia was simply adorable today...I've never seen her quite so happy. She entertained and giggled at us...lightening her Mommy's spirit.

 I watch and marvel as joyous miracles are unfolding for a deserving Mommy and Daddy.

 Olivia, sound asleep in her crib has no idea she is about to become a big sister.

Nor does she probably care...because today she learned a new trick. "Watch me Nana...I can turn my head sideways and laugh at you!"