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Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday Izzy Claire


We can hardly believe that Izzy will be 1 tomorrow!! What a year! We're looking forward to celebrating tomorrow... We promise to share pictures, especially fun ones of her digging in to her cake. We are so grateful for each and every one of the last 365 days that we've been blessed with Izzy's presence and we look forward to celebrating many, many, many more birthdays with her. For starters though, we're going to show her what a birthday is all about!

We'll update tomorrow at the close of her big day.

Monday, January 21, 2008

And It's Done

I have to admit that it is a relief to be past all the "firsts." I know holidays and significant Catie dates will always be tough, but I'm glad to be done with all the first times. The weather for the end of the week seemed to match our mood... gray and rainy. No snow down here, just cold, wet, rain. We enjoyed time w/ friends and family who shared our longing and of course hit Cracker Barrel as planned. Catie helped us out none w/ the weather when we arrived at the cemetary (I told her she should have some connections by now :), the rain was still coming down, but we let some balloons go none the less. Iz watched from the car and just kept grinning and waving to us. It made me think of how that's how she's been all this year. Completely and joyfully oblivious to the hole in our home and always there to make us smile and laugh. Tre and I have said a thousand times that we don't know what we would have done had Izzy not been sent our way when she was. After the cemetary, a few of us hit Krispy Kreme where the hot sign was not on, but the doughnuts were still tasty. (Have you noticed how much of our survival of the day involved food??? -- that's got to explain my waistline.) Iz liked the cream-filled kind!

My dad is improving. He's off the vent and doing well with his breathing. His kidneys are showing early signs of possibly trying to kick in and work. We still welcome your prayers for him as I have a feeling the road to recovery may take a while.

Thank you so much for all of your sweet notes, cards, calls, and encouragement. You truly make such a difference. When we arrived home on Sat. my inbox had several e-mails w/ pictures from some of our cancer buddies who had remembered our sweet girl with buttered biscuits of their own at Cracker Barrel. I'll include some pictures they shared below along w/ Iz enjoying her doughnut! Gotta run -- there's a birthday to plan!!!

JoBeth and all in Moultrie

Tab and her crew in Utah

Atlanta crew

Atlanta crew letting balloons go in the snow -- there are 4 CANCER SURVIVORS in this picture!

Ummmmm... doughnuts are good stuff

But the cream is really good

Saturday, January 19, 2008

365 Days


Oh sweet girl,
How on earth have we made it a whole year without you? Without your sweet voice, your catching giggle, your mischievous grin, and your sweet arms around our neck. We miss you as much today was we did this same day last year, but we have definitely learned a bit about grief and missing. I think, for me at least, the biggest lesson has been in how to let grief be a part of the every day without letting it govern my life. I've learned that I can miss you and still find happiness in my days. Life will never, ever, ever be as sweet as it was before you left us, but I know that wallowing would not make you proud. There are days that we wallow, but there are days where we do a decent job of trying to live like you taught us... full even when things are hard. Who knew how many lessons a Midget (I miss hearing your daddy call you that) would teach us.

For Daddy and I both, yesterday was harder than today seems so far. You died shortly after midnight, so it was the 19th, but to us it felt like the 18th. I started the day w/ a chicknen biscuit with chicknen on it. I so wished I was ordering you one w/ your kid's sweet tea as I drove through the drive through. Ms. Alice and Mr. Sam stopped by on their way through town which was such a nice surprise, and then we went to Aunt Lisa's for dinner. Chocolate cobbler was for dessert and I think that will be tradition every January 18th from here on out. Today we'll eat lunch at Cracker Barrel, of course, and then head to the cemetary. Your marker is finally in place. Hopefully the rain will let up so we can send some balloons your way.

I wish today wasn't significant, because if it wasn't, you'd still be here with us. But we're not going to focus on what happened on the 19th today or even on what happened Sept. 26, 2002, the day you were born. We're going to focus on what happened in between... all that good stuff and all the memories we have of you and on how full of joy you are now. GaGa sent me a link yesterday called The Dash. I thought it was quite appropriate for this weekend. So today, on your very first Heaven Day, we'll celebrate your dash and be grateful that we were a part of every bit of it. We love you sweet girl, as much today as we ever have. Send some frogs or butterflies our way... (and convince that sister of yours that walking is NOT scary at all -- she's so ready but is a bit of a chicken right now!! :).

The Dash

We love you!
Momma, Daddy, and Iz

Thanks for all your prayers and sweet notes about my dad. He is currently off the vent and was able to have some liquids last night. His kidneys are still not working, but we hope that will improve in coming days as well.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What a Week

I have hesitated to update this week b/c it has really just been crazy. But I know that it being the week that it is, writing is a good thing. Nothing unusual was scheduled for this week -- just get through Catie's 1st Heaven Day was really all we had planned. Sometimes it's strange how quickly things can change. My dad had surgery last week and has had unexpected complications. He is currently in ICU on dialysis and the vent. His vent settings are rather low, and they hope to try to wean him off today. He was put on the vent on Tuesday. This has been strangely eerie b/c Catie was put on the vent on Tuesday this week last year. I have been unable to be with him due to an unexpected minor procedure I had to have earlier this week. I am doing fine and recovering well.

Because of the procedure I had, I am not able to lift Izzy this week -- hard to care for a nearly 1 year old when you can't lift her. Thankfully Tre's parents live about 40 minutes from us so she's been staying with them. Our house has been so quiet and it has eerily reminded me of the week between Catie and Izzy last year. Tre's folks and Iz spent the afternoon here yesterday and it was so nice for her noise and squeals and laughter to echo off of the walls of our home. She's been having a big time w/ GaGa and Poppy! She's giving the sweetest kisses now too. I really could just eat her up. Hard to believe she'll be one next week.

And it's hard to believe that Catie's been gone for a whole year. Monday I got to see the etching of her picture on her marker that will be in place by Saturday (the actual anniversary). It really looked beautiful and we will be glad to have it in place. I know that Saturday will involve a visit to the cemetary, letting some balloons go, and, no doubt, some biscuit w/ our butter at Cracker Barrel. :) Izzy has already figured out that Cracker Barrel is a good thing. :) I have actually seen her eat an entire biscuit already!

There has been so much to process this week w/ Dad so sick and w/ it being Catie's anniversary that we haven't really had time to do it all. I'm anxious to get to be with Dad. I'm ready to get through the anniversary just so it's done and we've survived the first year without her. It's kind of been a "just let me crawl under the covers and wake up and everything be better" kind of week.

Thanks for checking in on us. We definitely welcome your prayers for Dad and his healing and recovery. We have a couple of buddies in the hospital as well. Chayton is in for the first chemo of his relapse protocol and Abby (enter name AbbySmith12) is in for fever and is just not feeling like herself. Your words and encouragement can make such a difference in their day.

This week we cling to the certainty that Catie is with our Savior. She is basking in His presence each and every day and her heart is full of joy. Her body knows no sickness and no pain. Her face knows only smiles and laughter, no frowns or tears for our sweet girl. She is completely and totally fulfilled.... content.... overflowing with the love of the Father. And she will be just the same when we arrive as she is today. Time may feel forever for us, but it's just the blink of an eye for her.

Thanks for checking in. :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Mixed Bag

As we quickly approach Catie's Heaven Day, I find that the days are much like the year has been... a mixed bag... great joy and delight in Izzy and all the blessings we've been given and such longing and aching for Catie. I went back in our journal and read through her last hospital stay... her last three weeks. I watched her video again and it made me smile and remember and miss all over again. It's hard to believe that in just 10 short days she will have been gone for a whole year. 365 days since we have touched her and kissed her. Oh how we miss her... we are still learning.

If you've followed Catie's story for very long, you'll recall that she LOVED Amy Grant. One of our favorite songs, or one of my favorites maybe I should say, has been Be Still My Soul. I've recently learned it has a third verse. So I thought I'd include all of the verses.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in every change God faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
to guide the future as in ages past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
the Christ who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

On Amy Grant's version, there is a spoken part at the end that I love as well.
"Delight yourselves in the Lord. Yes and find your joy in him. Be known for your gentleness and never forget the nearness of our God. And don't worry, whatever's gonna come. Just tell God every detail and the peace of God that noone understands will come to you. No, don't worry. Just tell Him every detail and His peace will come to you."

That song ministered to us as we faced Catie's progressions, her relapse, her final intense treatments, and as we lost her. It continues to speak to us now, because it speaks of a hope and a peace that cannot be explained or understood. That doesn't take the missing away, but it gives you strength and allows you to still feel joy. For that we are quite grateful.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Izzy B!

Well, I thought it was high time for an Izzy update. She's now sporting earrings, loved Christmas, and yesterday she took her very first steps. She's not walking, walking yet, but she's definitely ready!

Chewing on ribbons (and paper and bows and boxes and...) was a definite highlight this Christmas!

And you always have to have a bow on top of the head picture! The first time she had one on her head, she was so funny trying to figure out exactly where it was and how to get it off. I have to admit, we had a few laughs at her expense, but it was too cute.

This Santa thing is pretty fun!

Fun stuff!

Here she's sitting in her wagon reading a favorite book.

Blue eyes

You can see Uncle D counting steps on his finger behind Izzy. The most she did consecutively was 2, but it won't be long before she's walking all over the place!

Check her out!

Fun with my cousin, Natalie

Happy girl!

Big girl

No box is gonna stop me!

She continues to be so, so, so busy and so much fun. Her laughter is the joy of our hearts and we love it when it fills our house. I can't believe she's almost one!!!

Thanks for checking in!