One Month Birthday (Sept. 26)

Today when I walked in to Valencia’s little room in the NICU I noticed the nurses had made a sign and hung it above Valencia to wish her a happy one month birthday.  They also bought a cake and had her name put on it and even gave her a “Happy Birthday” balloon!  So sweet.  Her nurse told me they do this for the babies who have been there a while.  Valencia’s nurses have been extremely caring, kind, compassionate and even loving toward our girl and our family.  Almost every single day I hear about how sweet they think she is and how much they like taking care of her.  They are all lovely, lovely ladies and as with every other place we’ve been on this journey, we are receiving such amazing care.

It hadn’t occurred to me earlier today that it has been one month!  I thought back to my first baby, Gabby, and how every single month on the day of her birth I made a big deal about taking a photo or documenting it.  Ha ha, I guess by number seven some things go by the wayside.  But with Valencia it is an even bigger deal since there were times when we didn’t even know whether we would get one day much less one month.  So proud of my girlie!!

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In the first photo she is nursing in her sleep-hee hee.

Of course, since it was a milestone for my sweet Valencia, it made me think of her sister.  Mostly I tried to be happy that we did have a birthday cake for Laurencia while she was still with us and that we got to sing Happy Birthday to her on her actual birthday.  What a blessing that was.

I thought it would be nice to take the one month birthday cake out to Laurencia’s grave site tonight with the kids and spend some time thinking of her and celebrating her one month in heaven day.  I brought some new flowers out thanks to my mom and took the old ones off.  I have to mention here that a sweet angel by the name of Kenda provided those BEAUTIFUL flowers at the funeral and she even sent another huge arrangement with an angel and stepping stone that we plan to use in a little memory garden we will be making in our yard next spring.

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On the way and while we were there the kids had lots of questions and comments.  They said they thought she was having a big, wonderful party in heaven.  After we left to go to the park Polly discussed how heaven probably has the best ever playground.  Gabby wondered aloud why we even had to go through all of this business here on earth when heaven is so great, why couldn’t we just skip this whole deal and get to the good stuff?  The funny thing is, Gabby LOVES LIFE almost more than anyone I know.  It’s how I describe her to people.  She truly enjoys the little things and the big things all in big ways.  🙂

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I added Laurencia’s name and “1 m.” as well as a candle for each of them

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The kids put Laurencia’s candle in the dirt and gave her a teeny piece of cake

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Bella praying and talking to Laurencia. I had a hard time getting her to leave, I always try to give the kids as much time as they need.

Yesterday while visiting Valencia I put this shirt on her.  It used to be Anabella’s.  How crazy is it that I can use it again?  Weird almost.  Bella was born second so the other little matching shirt I have which says “1 of 2” is blue for Wyatt.  But little Valencia was born second like Bella.  I have to admit to a few tears falling onto Valencia when I took these:

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When I got home I had the kids empty their backpacks/folders as usual (side note:  parents wondering what the school does with the 85 billion reams of paper they ask us to provide every year, the answer is:  they send it home with my kids in the form of 4 copies each of the same flyer).  In her folder I found this drawing she made:

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Polly told me that she made Laurencia (up at the top in case it wasn’t clear) smiling because I told her there is no sadness in Heaven.  She asked me if Laurencia misses us though, despite how great it is in heaven.  She can’t quite grasp how Laurencia could possibly be happy ALL of the time when she doesn’t get to be with us, her family.  Some things just can’t totally be explained.  I answered by telling her that Laurencia probably misses us or wants to be with us but it’s not the same sad kind of missing that we have here.

According to this picture, you’d think we were a miserable lot.  However, most days the kids seem to be quite happy and are living life and having fun times as evidenced by earlier posts.  But the last few days, especially on the Valencia-coming-home-false-alarm day, I may have looked like the mom in the drawing.  It hit me again that I’m only bringing one of my two girls home, ever.  It’s the new things without Laurencia that seem to hurt the most.  And then inevitably I receive a message or some reminder of God’s love for us and of His mercy.

The other day I was talking with Matt and I wasn’t feeling as if everyone around us has forgotten but I did mention something to Matt along the lines of how it must almost seem to some people as though it didn’t happen because she’s not here.  Not minutes later I received a comment from Shawn telling us out of the blue “We remember your sweet Laurencia.”

So, we continue to find goodness in God’s love for us and in those around us and tonight I wish both of my sweet girls happiness where they are.

A Quick Valencia Update

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She isn’t home yet, but she’s still doing really well.  I snapped these quickly today:Image

The best view ever.

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Don’t give me any lip little girl…ok, you can!

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Streeeetch!

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Auntie Anna made this hat the other day, so cute!

So, she has been nursing and eating from a bottle exclusively, as in, no feeding tube for some time now.  She is also gaining weight and is over 5 lbs!  She may even come home weighing more than Anabella did when she came home!  Bella and Wyatt are the other twins and Bella weighed 5 lbs. 15 oz. at birth at 36 weeks.  Those two came home just two days after being born and like all newborns had lost weight before coming home.  Bella was tiny!  But a tough cookie like Valencia.

We thought she might come home this week but she is having too many “periodic breathing” episodes.  Basically like many newborns and especially preemies, she stops breathing for a bit then catches up quickly.  She doesn’t really need any help to get out of these spells but coupled with her needing to go back into the isolette a few days ago to keep her body temp up, the doctors said she just needed more time to grow and mature before coming home.  They thought her inability to keep her body temp up might have been due to her starting to feed so well.  It takes a lot of energy to eat and grow!  She is now 35 weeks and 3 days.  They are weaning her from the isolette as I type this.  That basically means they turn the temp down and keep track of hers and if it stays where it should, they take the top off, then put her in a regular bassinet.

I’ve been going to the hospital every day and I try to be there for at least two feedings.  The time just FLIES when I’m there.  I could sit and hold her all day long…but five other little ones need me too!

I try not to get too upset or impatient with her having to stay there a bit longer since it could be so much worse.  I used to think it would be the worst having to leave the hospital without your baby.  But it’s not the worst thing ever.  Like losing her sister.  And so I’m thankful for the wonderful care she is receiving and for how well she is doing.  I’m also thankful for my sister and parents who watch Mae so I can be with Valencia every day and for the knowledge that she will be home soon.  We are all so excited to get her home with us.

The nurses all always tell me about how sweet she is and her lovely disposition.  She is so fun to snuggle and cuddle and hold.  I found out the other day that some of the nurses hold her and snuggle her during the night.  I was so happy to hear it.  She really is the sweetest and I’m so proud of her.

Hope that suffices for now 🙂 Love to everyone and thanks for asking about Valencia!

The Day We Buried Our Daughter

In attempting to describe or discuss the day we buried our daughter, just over one week ago, once again words fail me.  But I have to try, for her sake and her sister’s.  On the morning of her funeral I called it Laurencia’s Special Day, her Victory Celebration.  And it was absolutely both of those things.  But it was also the day we had her teeny tiny casket lowered into the dug out hole in the ground and buried her.  “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7

When we learned of Laurencia’s diagnosis I often imagined the day of her funeral.  It played in my head over and over, knowing it was going to be our reality although often times I was in a state of disbelief that the day would really come.  “How can it be?”  I would ask myself, or maybe God.  “How can it be that I will put her in a little white casket instead of the little white bassinet like my other girls?”  “How is it even possible for me to hand her perfect little body over to someone to prepare it to be buried?”  I’m a mother.  I’m her mother.  I’m supposed to give her bath tubbies and get her dressed to GO PLACES, like visiting Papa and the playground.  Not put her in the dirt to be stepped on and cried over.

When I’d go to mass I would try so hard not to picture the inevitable and yet the images of her little white casket going down the aisle at our church were so clear to me.  And that part did happen pretty much the way I’d imagined.  But what I hadn’t pictured, what I could not have imagined were the multitudes of people who would come to show our girl how much they loved her.  I didn’t have the slightest idea that every single one of my dad’s siblings and so many of my cousins and their children and my friends from work and friends from my old job and Matt’s colleagues and my sister’s neighbors and lovely women from our church and my nurses who cared for us during the pregnancy and my parent’s friends and old friends and friends from high school and friends I met years ago at the community center and new friends we met through our children’s activities and our children’s teachers and my sister’s neighbors and Matt’s friends from high school and his aunts and siblings and their children and grandchildren and our neighbors and old neighbors and “little” girls I used to babysit who are now moms and mom’s I know who have also lost a child …I didn’t know some of them even knew of our girls.  And so no, I didn’t imagine that all of them would give up their time on a Friday night to celebrate the life of our Laurencia.  But they did.  Our gratitude can hardly be expressed for this gift and all I can offer is a ‘thank you’ to every single one of you for giving of yourselves all for one little girl.  And I want every single person who was there with us in prayer, though they may live in England (Antonia!) or Norway (I have no idea who you are 🙂 or Alaska or Saudi Arabia (Melissa!) to know that I am so thankful for you being there with us as well.

I regret not having thanked so many people personally and I also regret not having allowed more time for those of you who wanted to see our girl.  I wish I had a photo of the line of people waiting to see or say goodbye to her.  To me it was the definition of love.  Just pure love meandering it’s way through the back of church, out the doors, into the gathering space and beyond.  It was love for our Laurencia and her beautiful life.  “The best gift we can give to any child is to make that child feel wanted, loved, and cared for because that child is the greatest gift of God.” – Mother Teresa

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On the night before the funeral I sat down to prepare things for church and print photos.  I tried to be very deliberate about each photo and each little thing I was going to set out in remembrance.  In between tears I’d find yet another precious photo and try to figure out how I could possibly choose.

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(The photo of the girls holding hands as Laurencia’s heart beat for the very last time; the white heart pillow on the lighter pink blankie, Laurencia’s blankie, was made by my friend Tracy and it weighs exactly what Laurencia weighed;  Laurencia’s lamby hat that she wore on her birthday)

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(the photo we used for the little printed cards handed out at the funeral)

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(In the center, our only family photo, priceless to me;  each of us with Laurencia along with some of our thoughts about our beloved daughter and sister)

While trying to get ready the morning of the funeral, I sat down to send a little note to my girl.  I just couldn’t stop that heavy feeling in my heart.  I thought maybe if I cried hard enough here at home, I would be strong at the funeral and somehow the tears would run out.  It didn’t work, but that’s ok.  I did feel a sense of strength during the visitation, funeral and gathering after and I fully believe that once again it was all of the prayers for peace and strength that were being said for our families.

I arrived at the church with Bella and Polly at about 3:30 to set up our little table and to give Laurencia photos of us and of her with her sister.  I also gave her a little lamby to bury her with which wore a ribbon that said, “Jesus Loves Me.”  Yes, he does.  And so do I.

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Rachie and Billy were there to help me with everything.  It was calm and quiet before everyone else started to arrive.  I looked over to see where they had put Laurencia and she was surrounded by beautiful pink and white flowers sent by so many people who loved her.

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Matt came with the rest of the kids and we took some last family photos with Laurencia.  Baby Valencia, of course, could not be with us, but we knew she was safe and well cared for where she was at.  I wore Valencia’s special sister necklace as a reminder of her.

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Five of my girls, together one last time.

They all said prayers for her and loved on her and spoke again of how perfect she looked and how she looked like a queen on her throne.  The true queen of course, is right behind her, Mary, our holy mother.  My Laurencia was a princess like her sisters though, and she would have carried the title well, just like my girls.  I’m sure she would have spun and danced in twirly dresses with the best of them.  Anabella and Paulina wanted to practice one of the songs that all of Laurencia’s siblings and cousins were going to sing to her so I told them they could:

Before I knew it, so many wonderful friends and family started to arrive and I was once again overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness, compassion, support and love.

We hugged, cried and laughed with all of Laurencia’s sweet visitors.  Too soon we were told that everyone was being asked to be seated and we had to say our final goodbye.  Our last time touching the face of our girl.

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It’s at this point where my fingers don’t want to type.  I just want so very much to hold her and not write about not ever holding her again.  At the time, however, I was truly surrounded by so much comforting peace.  We all gave her one last kiss and said goodbye, even though we knew she was already home.  They then placed the white pall over her casket and we got ready to walk her down the aisle.  Laurencia’s godmother and godfather carried her down and my little family followed her.  I saw my sister Anna who, in just one look, said everything every single mother would have said if words were adequate.  It also said everything any sister would say if they could say anything at all in that moment.

The mass began and Valencia’s godmother read this reading:

“I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.  The one who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

That last line has always been very powerful to me and even more so now.

Father Richards said some beautiful words.  Matt commented a few days ago how he thought it was so nice how Father talked about Laurencia’s angels rejoicing to meet her.  Before mass ended, our kids and all of Laurencia’s cousins on my side (though I’m sure her nearly 30 cousins on Matt’s side would have done it too and were singing in spirit!) went up to the altar to sing two songs to her.  The first was “We Fall Down”.  If you don’t know it, some of the words are, “And we cry ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the lamb.”  I hadn’t noticed it at the time but when I watched this video I saw that little Mae Mae stood up there and was singing the Holy Holy part.  I lost it when I watched this.  We usually can’t even have her sit in church with us she’s so squirrely.  I can’t believe she stood up there to sing to her sister like a big girl.  After that song the kids sang “This Little Light of Mine” and lined up to get a pink or white candle to place next to their cousin.  Here is the video complete with the back of Laura’s head and whispers to the kids not to knock over the large candle.  Seeing and hearing all of our little ones sing to her was beyond precious and beyond heartbreaking.

In the last few days I’ve finally been able to read through many of the cards and letters we’ve received.  I was re-reading a note from another special Mary, a sweet friend who helped care for me and my girls during the pregnancy.  At the end of the letter she had provided an excerpt from Pope Francis’ recently released First Encyclical:  Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith):

“Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light.”

In my very first post on here I wrote, “But we know the sun will shine again.”  “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  2 Corinthians 4:6.  I do feel His accompanying presence and I do know that my little girl is a shining light.  She has shined in the hearts of so many people everywhere she has gone.


So then it was time to walk her down the aisle for the last time.  This was it, her last time going down the same aisle that she would have been carried down to be baptized at the font, the same aisle that she would have click-clicked down in her white dress shoes for her first communion, the same aisle that she might one day have walked down to marry the love of her life.  Once again, her godparents so tenderly carried her out to the car.  We followed right behind her.  As we drove out of the church parking lot and down the road we passed the historic church in our little town, the one Matt and I were married in.  I thought so clearly of the day we rode in the carriage down the same path and so I told the kids about it as we passed my childhood home.  The kids were somewhat awed by the police cars stopping traffic for the princess.  Matt thought it was fitting that our girl would have enough sass in her to stop traffic at 7 pm on a Friday night.  🙂  As we turned into the cemetery I saw the line of cars behind us and I told Matt I was suddenly so very sad for all of the babies who never had a chance at life, who were never known, never celebrated.  I know they were known by at least One, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”  Jeremiah 1:5.  But I cried for all of the babies who didn’t get sung to or held.

We got out of our cars and one last time Laura and Billy carried Laurencia’s casket this time to her final resting place.

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Father said a blessing and we asked Laurencia’s godparents to lay her in the ground.  While it may have seemed a tough thing to do and to witness I needed the kids to understand that she wasn’t going to be sitting there on the green carpet when we returned.  I needed them to know where she was going to be for all time.  I know it was a hard thing to ask Billy to do but he did it with grace and love.  I could not possibly have chosen better godparents for Laurencia.  They love her so much and displayed their love in ways that many never could.  I know for certain they will continue to honor our girl for the rest of our lives.

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The kids and I then each placed a pink rose on her coffin and said one final farewell.  I laid one in there on behalf of Valencia as well.

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As with the Laurencia’s birthday, the kids did not want to leave but I knew they had to and tried to find the right amount of time to take them to the car.  When we got in the car they were crying very hard, wailing actually, especially Polly.  And I just let them.  We drove back to the church for a small gathering and the kids ate and talked with their cousins and had a nice party for their sister.  I knew they would need that and indeed it helped them realize we must carry on though we will never, ever, ever forget our girl and the beauty of her life in ours.

The next day the kids wanted to go out to her grave site and place some items there.  Papa and Grandma had already been there and right after we left, Rachie and Billy had stopped by as well.  We found out later that Laura and her kids made a little visit too.  The kids and I had been having fun prior to going to visit Laurencia and it was somewhat of a shock to me to see the dirt covering her.  I told my friend Tracy that every new thing is probably going to be difficult for a while.  But I had to get to church with the kids and so I couldn’t stay long weeping over my girl.  I had to remember her joy and to remind myself that just like with Valencia, who was safe in her little bassinet, Laurencia is safe with Jesus.

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Yesterday was the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.  I found the following portions of Stabat Mater, (Translation by Edward Caswall Lyra Catholica (1849)) when reading about this feast day:

“At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her Son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother’s pain untold?

For the sins of His own nation,
She saw Jesus wracked with torment,
All with scourges rent:

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
be Thy Mother my defense,
be Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,Safe in Paradise with Thee.”

Be Thy cross her Victory so she may be safe in paradise with Thee.

We interrupt this grieving process…

…to bring you happy kids jumping in bouncy houses and corn bins.

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Our classic First Day of School pose under the now deteriorating and terribly neglected trellis.

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Mae Mae isn’t going to school but rather to “help” daddy in the barn – see end of video below.

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My babies…skipping down the driveway.

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Classic Second Day of School photos, oh wait, people don’t do that?

The day after Laurencia’s funeral I took the older four to visit Valencia (we also visited Laurencia’s gravesite but I’ll tell you about that later).  As we were driving along, the kids wanted the radio on as usual and I found a Neil Diamond CD in my car.  I told them it was a travesty that they weren’t more well acquainted with Mr. Diamond and we opened the roof and windows and cranked up “I’m a Believer” and we laughed and sang as loud as we could while driving down the freeway.  And that’s how the kids looked, too.  Free.  Free to be happy and joyful and laugh.  I don’t have video of me singing at the top of my lungs, you’re welcome.

We visited our girlie, who is doing SO fantastically by the way (a big Valencia update to follow) and who is happy in her own right, growing and making steps closer to getting home every single day.

After that we walked around and went to eat and took pictures by water fountains.  Gabby made this:

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The kids are so happy to have me home, in case you couldn’t tell.

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(Wyatt made me these the other day on his bedroom floor so I’d see it right when I walk in his door)

I took the kids to my work party last weekend and they went CrAzY jumping in the bouncy houses.  They loved every second of it!  Today after school I took them, as promised, on the first of what they tell me is to be many jaunts to an Apple Orchard.  This orchard is a favorite of ours since they can jump in the corn bin and hold the animals.  As you can see, Mae wasn’t shy about the holding part.

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This photo isn’t quite complete without Valencia, one of the very cutest chicks in MN.

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They’ve been waiting all year for this!

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Happy!

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oh, Mae Mae

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Wyatt was in his element running around this place

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Whatever we do and wherever we’ve been going lately, they thank me profusely for even the littlest things.  This photo with daddy was from last night, just before bed.

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As for me, I can’t help but smile and be happy when I know my family is and when I am with Valencia.  I am still taking it moment by moment and finding happiness in little things and in the continued kind words and hugs and messages I receive almost daily.  How could I not?  The truth is, finding happy again is part of all of this, not a distraction from it.  Living our life and appreciating our blessings amidst our sorrows isn’t an interruption but is part of how we are finding our way.  I still think of Laurencia every single second and today I hope she is happy and that maybe they have bouncy castles in Heaven.

Katrina

The “Queen’s” special day (Victory Celebration)

My sweet girl, as I prepare for this day, I think of all of the special days I would have liked to have had with you.  I know that in Heaven every single day is glorious for you, but I also know you would have loved it here, and we would have loved you here.  Image

I am praying so hard that today we celebrate you and show you how much we love you in a way that would have made your sweet little lips smile and would have made your tiny little tootsies dance.  We miss you and will miss you every second until we meet again.  When I think of holding you and touching you the ache is so great I stop breathing.  I love you with everything I am.

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We are so, so very blessed that you came into our lives and are honored to know a real and tiny little saint in Heaven.

When we went to the funeral home last night to see you, just Daddy, your older sisters and me, the girls said you looked like a queen.  You are.

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The nurse at the hospital had written on Valencia’s things, “Lady Valencia”.  So I have my Queen Laurencia and Lady Valencia.  You two make quite the pair.

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God bless you my love.  Today is your special day.

 

Preparing for tomorrow

I haven’t been able to update for a few days because I have been preparing and planning for Laurencia’s funeral mass as well as trying to get some Valencia time in.  On Tuesday we met with Fr. Richards to choose readings and songs and I felt as though I was moving in slow motion all day long.  I just couldn’t get myself to make decisions.  Nothing seems good enough.  Even finding something to wear.  I avoided it by instead trying on jeans at the dress shop.  The woman asked me as soon as I entered the store, “Are you shopping for something in particular?”  I hesitated.  Do I answer her honestly?  I decided to tell her the truth and face my reality so as to avoid having her act as though this was some happy dress shopping occasion.  Both ladies were so kind to help me but still, nothing was good enough, nor will it ever be.

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(My quest for a dress took me downtown so I stopped in at my work and said hi to some of my favorite people.  Terry gave me this, she has also graciously offered to be the Eucharistic minister at mass tomorrow.  I had been trying to find a lamby for both of my girls but only found one.  This one has the verse that is so special to me.)

Speaking of dress.  I’ve been really feeling like the kids and I should wear white or light colors.  My girl was so pure, so sweet, so pink and pretty.  When we left our meeting with Father, the other priest of our parish, Fr. Nathan came up to us and told us that before Vatican II, when an infant died, the entire church would wear white and they would say the Mass of the Angels.  I thought that sounded beautiful.  I would never request anything of anyone since I want everyone to feel comfortable and welcome tomorrow night no matter what.  However, if you were looking for direction or feel so inclined, I think it would be beautiful if those attending would wear something light or white or even pink.  Laurencia’s daddy and brother are going to wear pink ties for their girl :).

I know that these details shouldn’t matter.  But yesterday morning when I was trying to finalize some things it occurred to me that this is all she gets.  No baptism, no first communion, no more birthday parties, no mommy and Laurencia days, no wedding.  Her funeral is the only thing I can plan and do for her.  I don’t have enough days to come up with special things for tomorrow and so the little things like choosing songs or readings or pink ties or a necklace to bury her in do matter, to me.

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(Yesterday Rachie gave me these identical necklaces and precious little jewelry boxes that say “Laurencia & Valencia”.  Laurencia’s godfather, Billy picked them out special.  We will bury Laurencia with her necklace on and when we give Valencia hers some day, we will tell her that her sister has the match.  This was such a gift to me as, unbeknownst to Billy and Rach, I had spent hours looking for the perfect sister necklace to bury my girl in but couldn’t find one.)

For anyone joining us tomorrow, you are more than welcome to come out to the burial site with us or you can stay and talk in the back of church and enjoy something to eat and some coffee.  We will be returning to the church to join you after we leave the cemetery.

Last night I was talking to the kids about the funeral and I started tearing up, which made Wyatt start crying.  He can’t stand seeing others cry.  He told me he doesn’t want to go to the funeral.  If I had my choice, I wouldn’t want to either, but really it’s more that I don’t want it to have to happen.  But it will and since it is the only thing left that I can do for my girl, there is nothing more I’d rather do than be with her tomorrow night.  I just wish I had a thousand million more days where I could see her and feel her little fingers one more time.  When I do look at her photos, I find myself every single time touching the computer screen, trying to feel her.  Mae does the same thing but also insists on kissing the computer screen.  God I miss her.  And tomorrow will be the very last time I get to see her sweet face.  I pray for strength and peace to accept it and be joyous for my girl.

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Thank you for the continued prayers and support.  In approximately 4 minutes my nephew, Benedict Francis, will be undergoing his repair surgery.  This surgery is critical.  We are all very concerned about our boy but hopeful for his healing.  We appreciate any prayers you might offer on his behalf.

God bless you all,

Katrina