Friday, April 26, 2013

how many children...

How many children do you have?

As a mother I hear this question wherever I go.
I am the mother of five.
But is my answer always five, is it that simple?
For a bereaved parent this is never a simple question.
I sometimes answer four.
If I answer four it might mean that I am not in the mood;
in the mood to let you deep into my life, 
in the mood to feel a sting of sadness,
in the mood to make you uncomfortable.
I might answer five and just leave it at that, 
but often another question follows:
how old are they? 
Which only leads to more awkward answers and questions..
If I answer the truth it can make the conversation uncomfortable.
If I answer four I am often left with guilt, 
guilt for not aknowledging my own daughter..
But I am learning that either answer is okay, 
that God will lead and guide my heart and my response.
The majority of the time I answer with "four and one in heaven".
I often find that when I do, 
the person I am faced with is another bereaved parent,
or someone that needed to hear about Kathleen's brief life,
that God can bring you through the darkest struggles,
that He is our healer, our comforter, our strength.
It may bring a sting of sadness, 
but like the lament psalms they end with 
hope and comfort and encouragement. 
Perhaps the times I don't respond this way, 
I am really robbing the other person of an opportunity to be 
touched, healed, comforted, encouraged, inspired
like so many have been by Kathleen and by my story.
It is a simple question, but not a simple answer.. 
If you want to know that answer that lies deep in my heart,
it would be very controversial. 
My answer would be NONE.
I have no children, they are not mine, they belong to God.
I am their caretaker for however long God allows it.
Be it two hours or a life time.
It may seem like a simple question, but it is not,
and neither is the answer.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Five years ago our Kathleen was born, and died.
Hard to believe it's been five years.
Sometimes it's hard to believe it even happened.
The memories of holding her in my arms are fading.
The memories of the excruciating pain are fading.
I don't want to forget.
But perhaps I am not supposed to only remember how she was.
Maybe I am supposed to see what she is.
Five years old.
Blue eyes.
Blond hair.
Pig tales.
Walking with Jesus.
Today five years have passed.
Today I am the blessed mother of five.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Those who have read my very first blog know why I have titled this blog site 'Butterfly Tears' and why I am reminded of Kathleen every time I see a butterfly - as we released butterflies at her funeral. I can't express how thankful I am that we did this and that I have something to associate her with here on earth. I don't really buy things for my girl Kaitlin with butterflies, she is my flower, Kathleen IS my butterfly. I know not everyone understands this, and that's okay, because I know that unless you have lost a child there are many things you don't understand..

I walked out of Big Lots a couple of weeks ago with grateful tears in my eyes because I had found the perfect memory box for Kathleen. The week before I had picked up three boxes for my living children but decided against getting one for Kathleen - after all she has the memory box that was given to us at the hospital.. But when I got home I regretted it. Not only is the box not big enough but it also means a lot to me that she is treated equally to my other children, as equal as I can for her not being here physically.. As I headed back to the store I prayed that God would provide a box in the same style as my other childrens but with butterflies which they didn't have the week before. And there it was!!! I am so grateful to God that He provides and cares even about the 'small' details of our lives. This box meant so much to me.

My dream trip is a "Butterfly Trip" to Mexico where you see the th
ousands and thousands and thousands of monarch butterflies gathered in the trees. After Kathleen died I saw the trip featured on a travel show and just knew that one day I would love to go there. How overwhelming and how beautiful that would be.

Some may have noticed that I include a butterfly in some of my photography business design. It is my way on honoring and including Kathleen, although most won't know. But I actually believe it is because of her that I now do photography professionally. I was a volunteer photographer for forget-me-not before I started my business and it is certainly because of her that I do that! And doing that convinced me I can do anything - including pursuing my dream of having my own photography business.

For Sunday school today Kaleb's homework consisted of drawing a picture of heaven. He drew a picture of Jesus and Kathleen. And then as we sat in the service a butterfly came flying by!!! In the middle of winter, here is a butterfly, in the church! It reminded me that although Kathleen is in heaven and I am comforted that one day I will see her again, she is also present with us here, on earth - because we remember her, we speak her name.

Kathleen, my little butterfly.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

boot camp

I recently listened to a sermon titled "God's boot camp".
How essentially the Israelites had a boot camp in the desert.
We too are in God's boot camp, sometimes more intense
than others, but I think we are always being refined and taught.
Every struggle we go through, every suffering, is a way for God
to refine us and teach us even more. I think there are two things we need
to get out of every trial we experience: we need to learn
something and we need to act on it.

My biggest boot camp is called 'Kathleen'.
In the valley of death I learned that God truly does love us unconditionally because in a time when I didn't spent much time with God and didn't do much for God, He still loved me and blessed me.
I learned that with God's strength I can survive anything,
even the death of a child.
I learned that God is in control, no matter the circumstances.
I learned that ALL things can be used for good.
I learned compassion for others who experience the death of a child and I learned to relate to this niche of people that only very few can relate to.
And I acted on it by serving other bereaved parents with my photography.

Now I am going through another boot camp.
It is called "blighted ovum". I thought I was 9 weeks pregnant
but there was no baby.. It has been a time of sadness and disappointment.
This 'pregnancy' happened at a time when we truly desired one more baby, but were not trying and even preventing it. So when it happened anyway, I really thought this was the final baby that God wanted to bless us with, in His own special way, miraculously. But that didn't turn out to be His plan. His plans were different than I thought.. Yet it was still His plan. I am struggling to understand though. In many ways, Kathleen's awful death seemed to make more sense.. But I am trying hard not to lean on my own understand and trust in God with all my heart (Pro 3:5) as I go through this boot camp. I still don't know what I am supposed to learn from this trial, and what I am supposed to do with it. Maybe what I am supposed to learn is more trust. And to really learn and grasp that the Lord determines our steps. "A man's step are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?" (Pro 20:24)
I hope and pray however that one day I will be able to look back and understand. That one day I can tell you what I learned from this, and what I did.
But for now I am still going through the boot camp, with a heart willing and open to learn, to be refined. "The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart" (Pro 17:3).

I am thankful that I am in God's boot camp, and not wandering the wilderness, lost and alone. God is faithful, never leaving or forsaking us. "
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6)

In the midst of the boot camp I am at peace. Sad but still at peace. And I am finding myself more grateful than ever for the many, many blessings God has granted me with. Maybe that's what this boot camp is all about: trust, peace and gratefulness.

Monday, July 4, 2011

overwhelmed with happiness

These days I feel overwhelmed with happiness.
There was a time I thought I could never feel happy again.
But even before that time, before Kathleen died,
I did not think such happiness as this was possible.
I am reading through 'A Grace Disguised' by Jerry Sittser
and I am starting to understand.
To understand how it is ever possible to experience such great loss,
and then such great happiness.
The book explains how our soul grows through loss.
That loss enlarges the soul.
And although we may feel more sorrow, and more compassion,
we are also able to feel a greater happiness.
It's not a happiness I feel because I am healed.
Some losses you are healed from, like you heal from a broken limb.
Other losses are like an amputation. You never heal.
But you learn to live with it, and to live abundantly.
And you learn to use your amputation for something good.
I once met a guy who was born without limbs,
just one little foot with one toe.
Although he was born with this loss,
I am sure he experienced loss and suffering growing up.
But now he travels the world and encourages people beyond words.
With his little foot he does everything:
types on the computer, answers the phone, swims.. everything!
It is amazing what we are capable of doing, in spite of our amputations.
Or maybe because of them.
My life still has sorrow, not just my own but also the sorrow of others.
My life has darkness, but in the darkness a light shines so much brighter.
And these days there is much light. Much happiness. Much joy.
And I start to understand the words of Jesus:
"Blessed are those who mourn, because they shall be comforted".
I am comforted, and I am blessed.. and I am happy.
Thank you Kathleen for enlarging my soul.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

four roses

Recently someone very dear to me gave me four roses.
One rose for each of my children.
That may seem like such a simple thing, a simple gift.
To me it was not simple.
To me it was an invaluable gift -
one that touched me, comforted me, brought me joy.
You see, whenever someone remembers my little Kathleen,
whenever someone acknowledges her, mentions her name,
that is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give me.

As another bereaved mother puts it:
"The mention of my child's name might make me cry,
not mentioning my child's name will surely break my heart".

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

my special children

I have been thinking a lot about my children lately.
Thinking how each one is special.
Kaleb is my special firstborn -
the one who made me a mom,
who introduced me to the best job in the world,
who made me want more children when I used to want none.
Kaden is my special rainbow baby -
the rainbow at the end of a storm,
a baby conceived and born after the death of another child.
Kaitlin is my special gift -
the kind of gift I never expected in my life,
a gift that daily blesses my soul, touches my heart.

But then I think of Kathleen.
And I find no words to explain how special she is..
All I know is she is the one who changed me the most,
who impacted me the most.
She is simply just... my special baby.