Aria Bear

I haven’t mentioned anything about our beautiful, and perfect gift from the Molly Bears organization, and I wanted to share it with all of you. Molly Bears provides families who have lost an infant with a teddy bear, handmade by volunteers, that is the exact same weight as their child.

I really looked forward to receiving our bear because I just couldn’t wait to feel two pounds, and eleven ounces in my arms again. I longed for anything that could help me feel closer to holding my little girl.

Our little Aria Bear arrived just a few days before Mother’s Day. My hands shook as I opened the box, and I couldn’t believe I was this excited to see a teddy bear. Our Aria Bear is beautifully made, and honors our baby girl perfectly. I cried as I held the bear in my arms for the first time, and was shocked at how familiar the weight felt. I slept with the bear resting on my chest that night, and it was the first restful night of sleep I had since the day Aria was born. Our Aria Bear has been such a comfort to our family.
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Brian and I think it would be neat to bring our Aria Bear with us when we take family photos to symbolize Aria’s everlasting place in our family. We have used a pink balloon in the past though, and I like that idea a lot too.

If you are interested in a receiving a Molly Bear, or supporting a wonderful charity, please visit http://www.mollybears.com

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Dear Aria,

If I could hold you and talk to you right now, there is so much I would say. We would reminisce about your birth, and I would gush over how amazing it was to carry you in my belly. I would kiss you a million times. I would tell you that you are the most beautiful blessing in the universe. I would hold you tightly and never let go.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and it was so hard without you. Your Daddy was so sweet to me, and made the saddest day turn into something beautiful.

You know, sometimes I feel guilty for being happy when you aren’t here, but I know that’s not what you want. So I’m doing my best to fight the little voice that wants me to give up.

I want you to know that my love for you still grows everyday. I miss you so much, sweet girl. Until we meet again.

Love,
Mom

Weightlifting and Marriage: The reason I can’t be my husband’s spotter.

I know this is a space where I usually talk about Aria, baby loss, and birth defects, but truthfully I’ve always wanted this blog to encompass more facets of my life. Since losing our daughter has fully consumed me for the last three months, and still does, that is usually the only thing I have wanted to write about. But while at the gym with Brian today, I realized something, and my mind kept telling me to write about it. So here I am…

I had finished my workout, and was about to head over to the treadmill so I could walk until Brian was done lifting. I stopped by to give him a few words of encouragement and he asked if I could spot him. “Sure! No problem.” I thought, but as he started his set, I quickly realized I was not the right person for the job.

Brian was fighting, I could see the strain in his face as he moved the weight. In his eyes, he was just working out but I could only see one thing; struggle. It was obvious he was using every bit of strength in his body to push the weight up. All I wanted to do was help, even though I knew he could lift it alone. I couldn’t stand there and watch him fight by himself. I just kept thinking “we are a team, let me help you.” As he raised the bar for the fourth time, I could tell he was summoning extra strength to keep going. I couldn’t take it anymore, I needed to help him! So I grabbed the bar and pulled it up.

“KIM! STOP! NOT YET!” Brian looked at me with dismay. He was not happy. I had just inadvertently ruined his set. Whoops.

I knew the struggle was very reason he went to the gym. He wanted to do the difficult task of lifting hundreds of pounds with his body, it’s how he stays in shape, builds muscle, and gets stronger. You know, no pain, no gain.

I just couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t stop thinking about the weeks that followed Aria’s passing. All of the nights I helplessly watched him struggle, knowing there was nothing I could do. I hated sitting there watching his heart break and not being able to do a damn thing. I couldn’t bring Aria back.

The strangest thing about our journey through grief is that we rarely cry at the same time. If I am losing it, Brian switches over to protection mode and consoles me. I always do the same for him. One of us is always trying to fix the other’s pain, even though we know it’s impossible.

So as I watched him fight to lift the weight in the gym, I realized it was the first time I saw his pain, and knew I could fix it, so I did. And you know what? Even though I “ruined” his set, I’m not sorry. I refuse to ever come to a place where I can see him struggling and not feel the need to do something. I will always be the first one there, trying to rescue him.

Happy Easter, my sweet Aria girl.

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Aria, I’ve been looking forward to this day from the very moment you left this world. I’ve been so excited to celebrate the promise and proof of your everlasting life. It is because your life continues in heaven that I have found peace. I can’t wait to hold you again, and live the life I always dreamed of with you by my side.

I love you sweet angel. Happy first Easter in heaven.

He is risen!

I don’t believe in coincidences anymore. 

It had been a week and a day since Aria left this world. We were watching the Seahawks game with Brian’s family, trying to be a little more normal. I was pretty silent and glued to my phone during the game. I kept flipping through the pictures we had taken of Aria wondering how we had gotten here. My heart was bleeding and the shock was beginning to wear off. It was somewhere around halftime that I finally believed and understood that Aria wasn’t coming back, and I was quickly losing my ability to stay calm. So as we got in the car to head to my parent’s house, I began to feel my temperature rise as the tears started forming in my eyes. I looked out the window and watched the pouring rain drench the earth around us. It was an incredibly depressing scene. As I sat there in a puddle of tears I thought, it would be really wonderful if Aria could send me a rainbow right now. Later, I learned that Brian was thinking the exact same thing.

This is the part where I promise you that I’m not making any of this up. I wouldn’t believe it either if it didn’t happen to me, but it did. 

You see, just as we turned the corner, the rain stopped. A moment before the skies were completely gray, and the rain had been pouring down with no end in sight. Suddenly, there was nothing. The skies cleared and the sun instantly beamed through the trees, lighting up the sky and igniting my soul. And there it was, dead center in the sky. A rainbow. It was brilliant, vibrant and I felt it’s message loud and clear. I looked at Brian and we both laughed in disbelief. There she was, our baby girl, coloring the sky and bringing my spirit back to life. 

There have been a few other moments since that day where I’ve felt her presence. I love that she sends me occasional reminders that I am never alone. Those are the things that keep me going. Without them, I wouldn’t have the strength to crawl out of bed each morning. 

And this is where I tell you that I believe with my whole heart that death is not the end. If it were, these things would just feel like coincidences but they don’t. A coincidence is when your husband accidentally puts on the exact same color shirt as you. Those things don’t renew your spirit and give you peace. The only way I can explain it is that these miracles are glimpses of heaven, and the eternal life that we will share with Aria one day. 

Be bold with your kindness

“Hi! Welcome!” 

Just as Brian and I were leaving church this morning, a woman who had been sitting next to us during the service decided to greet us. At first, I didn’t really know what to do. Usually when a stranger greets me, my bubbly personality takes over and I happily engage in conversation. Since our beautiful daughter passed away, I have had a hard time finding my footing in moments like this. It took a moment for me to figure out how to respond. She asked if we were just visiting, and I told her we had been in the area for a while now but hadn’t found our church home quite yet. She said she was glad we came, and hoped to see us next week. Her smile was warm and inviting. She spoke so sweetly and her joy radiated through me.

If only she could see how broken I am. It has been 5 weeks since Aria left this earth and my wounds are still so raw. I find myself randomly shedding tears throughout the day, and I’m still figuring out how to live life after loss. So here I was, barely managing to maintain my own friendships, and I was joyfully engaging in conversation with someone I had never met before. Somehow, in that moment I felt happy. I was so glad that someone reached out and recognized that I was here. She was overwhelmingly kind and exactly what my damaged heart needed this morning. I even wondered if she felt God leading her to greet me. 

My interaction with this woman really got me thinking. I wondered how many times I ignored someone because I was too shy to say hello. How many times have I been impatient with someone who was barely hanging on by a thread? Most of the time we can’t see the brokeness in others. We don’t know they are hurting, but the way we treat them makes such a huge difference.

A few weeks ago, I was checking out at Target when the cashier joked with me about the weather. I hadn’t smiled in days, but I knew this conversation would become very awkward if I didn’t respond. So I forced a laugh and agreed with her. And you know what? That forced laugh was enough to bring my mood up just a little bit. It gave me hope that I would soon find joy and real laughter again. In the cashier’s eyes, we were just talking about a snowstorm. But to me, we were proving that happiness is still out there. 

You never know what your actions will bring to someone’s life. How we treat others can have an incredible impact, and we may never realize how meaningful something actually was. Today I learned how valuable a simple “hello” can be. It is my hope that anyone reading this feels encouraged to be bold with their kindness. Go forth and spread joy into the world, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Your actions matter so much more than you think. 

I wanted to…

I wanted to kiss your belly as I got you dressed in the morning.

I wanted to hear you laugh.

I wanted to see the wonder in your eyes as we visited Disney World for the first time.

I wanted to watch you sleep in my arms.

I wanted to hear you shout “Daddy!” as you ran towards the door when your Dad came home from work.

I wanted to cheer you on as you took your first steps.

I wanted to celebrate your birthdays with you. 

I wanted to watch you graduate from high school.

I wanted to watch your Daddy walk you down the aisle. 

I wanted to spend my life with you, Aria. 

I wanted more time.

I miss you.