This week will mark our little baby girl Maya’s first birthday. Holy moly – I know they say time flies, but I just truly can’t believe it. Maya has recently become almost obsessed with watching videos of her brother on my phone. And in the morning if Maya sees a phone she points and says “Tai Tai” and so I let her watch some.

I love seeing him but it also makes me realize how much I took for granted and that pains me so much. Seeing his videos for the umpteenth time, I notice all of the little things – those movements, expressions, nuances of his voice that I know in my heart, but now notice with my eyes and I wish so much that I had just focused so much more deeply in those moments. I find myself watching Maya – the way she is discovering new things, trying out the different octaves (screeching) of her voice, her laugh and funny gestures. I want to be more present. I want her to know she is loved every moment. I don’t want to wait do those things. Don’t wait to give her that hug or tell her I love her even though she has no idea what that means. Don’t hurry her up because I “need” to run an errand.

I hate this but I admit that there definitely was a part of my life where I often lived in the future….Focusing only on what was to come, making plans, or thinking about what could be and not being in the present. I also admit that I did this a great deal when I became a mom – the immediate upside down flip your life takes hit me right upside the head and I grieved the loss of certain freedoms. Yes, in becoming a mom I also got to see how stinkin’ selfish I am. I was also scared because I didn’t/dont know how to do this whole thing —  make him stop crying or help him learn how to sleep, I kept thinking ok, when he’s so many months old it’ll be better, or I wish I could fast forward through this part. Oh, I hate, hate, hate remembering that I had those thoughts. I would give anything for those moments again.

With Maya turning one, I feel so bad because I feel like there is this chunk of time when Kai started getting sick and then of course the time in the hospital where my focus was Kai, and I feel like I missed part of Maya’s first year, I wasn’t fully present in the moment. I don’t remember some things.

A million different thingsare going in our lives, we get “busier” every second. Sometimes I feel like I’m living life in fast forward. But, it’s hitting me hard this week – STOP. The message, “don’t wait”. Don’t wait to live your life. Stop spinning and live it now. We all wait for the “right time” to do something, or waiting to feel less anxious or less busy or whatever the reason, but don’t. Don’t wait to live. Don’t wait to go after your dream or tell someone you love them, or reach out or give a hug.

I think maybe we wait because we’re scared or we feel something is more important. This is what I think causes me to wait at least. But I want to be better. And we’re scared of being hurt, we’re scared of it being too hard, we’re scared of the unknown. But, life is full of bumps and challenges we can never anticipate, prevent or prepare for and when they hit you have no choice but to deal with it. And we can.

I never in a million years thought any of this would happen. And of course I wish so so so much that this didn’t happen. But, every second of this pain means my heart grieves the loss of a love that is still alive — I get to love Kai, and I got to experience his life. What’s that saying —  it’s better to have loved and lost than have never loved at all – and as much as this hurts so bad, the love I feel for Kai is so much greater than that pain and there is no doubt whatsoever that it’s worth it.

So, please don’t wait to be in the moment. Don’t wait to live life. I realize I’ve learned this lesson in some ways a little too late. This a beautiful life amidst the broken-ness, and I don’t want you or I to miss one more thing.

And I do love how kids do really live in the moment, fully being themselves and not waiting to live. And if you feel like howling like a coyote in the backseat like our buddy Kai, you go right ahead.*


*(for those concerned howI obtained this video – yes I was driving, but it’s not what you think. I heard him doing this so I picked up my phone at a stoplight and then just pointed it backwards haphazardly hoping to at least capture the audio and somehow luckily got the video too)

The Sun Never Says….

I’ve been writing and rewriting my thoughts for almost a week now – I’m not even sure if what I’ve written makes any sense and I’m not sure what drives me to write on here, but for some reason I feel like I’m supposed to share them.  I fully realize I have nothing ‘special’ to share – I am definitely not claiming to know anything and I know that there are so many others who have very specific evidence and/or information that can refute or support anything I say. I guess I’m just trying to say – this is just me, a broken person sharing some thoughts and offering it up simply as a perspective.

In less than a week, I’ve learned of a friend’s 8 month old baby fighting for his life against an unknown disease, another friend of a friend’s 4 year old son beginning a 43 week stint in chemo, another young mom asking Jesus just to bring her son home quickly so he doesn’t have suffer anymore, and a young mom to 4 children who has been diagnosed with an untreatable cancer  – and then you turn on the news and there’s the airplane crash, a mass murder of a family, abuse, apathy, the conflicts in the world — it goes on and on.

It can be crushing and suffocating to think of all of these things.

Through this journey with Kai, these stories seem to becoming up more and more frequently. And I am constantly finding myself angry,confused, grieving, and just hating, hating, hating the broken-ness of this world. No more suffering! Please, God, come on! No more! And the pain is visceral and I wouldn’t wish this pain we’ve felt on anyone, and so I feel almost like I am going to lose it when I see others suffering as well.

And then from seemingly out of nowhere, I hear myself say,Thank God this life isn’t all that there is. I question God and ask why this happens and I don’t have answers, but it just makes me convicted even more strongly that there is no stinkin’ way this world and its material things, pain and suffering could be all there is.

So does this mean we don’t engage in this life? Does this mean this life is awful or it doesn’t matter because it’s so broken? No, I don’t think so.

This life has incredible beauty and joy in it, and I think this life matters even more once you realize it’s not all there is because I think you find yourself investing more time in what’s lasting. Realizing the fragility of life and the hardness of life inspires me to live more.

But I struggle at staying inspired, that’s for sure. Most days I am with baby Maya and she is just surprising me and amazing me at every turn, but there’s this constant movie of Kai – my memories of him – that plays all day long,  just outside my direct field of vision and making me feel happy/sad at the same time. And when I glance to the “side” to see him fully, all I want to do is lock myself in a room and just watch videos of him, hear his voice, his laughter, his crying and stubbornness and kicking and screaming, all of it, I just want to do that forever sometimes.  And honestly,at the beginning, I thought about if I could just kind of ignore the life going on around me and hide away forever from people — that would be easier. But then I realized thinking that way, I felt more alone. I also realized it doesn’t honor my son’s life or my daughter’s life, but it was instead selfish and made it all about me and how I felt  and how was sad and why did this have to happen to me — it made me cut off people, made me cut off reality… it made me cut off God.

And I think the truth is, engaging in this life is what has made me start the healing process.

I wish so badly that no one would have to suffer in this world. Oh, how I wish this so much.

We only know this one moment – right now. How can we live it? And if you are like me and still trying to figure out so many things with faith, life, this crazy world, I do believe we can find the beautiful moments even amidst the pain, and those feelings of joy and love are bigger than the broken, even if it cannot change it.

Maybe this looks like mustering up the faith to engage in life and take that leap into confronting the broken-ness to find healing and live life fully. Hope that even amidst everything that is broken, that one day it will be new and there will be no more suffering. And loving – loving God andloving each other and being not afraid to love.

I’m not good at this explaining how I am processing these “bigger” things that this journey with Kai has brought me to and I’m really tempted to delete this, but if anything you can ignore the whole post before this part and just read the next few sentences:

If you wouldn’t mind, please pray for those that are suffering. There are so many in this world including those I mentioned above,baby Malcolm, little David, sweet Kyle, and momma Amy….

And I wanted to share this poem – I read this many, many years ago when life seemed more full of darkness than light, and this has stuck with me and been an encouragement and inspiration to me.

Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, “You Owe Me.” Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky”. – Hafiz

Thank you for your prayers and for all of the incredible support you’ve given our family without ever asking for anything in return. Thank you, thank you, thank you – you’ve lit up the darkness for us and brought light to our world.

Letter to Kai – your 3rd birthday

I realize that this post may seem cliche or cheesey – so I feel like a disclaimer of this sort is me totally owning up to the nature of what I’m about to write. So here goes.

This 4th of July weekend, I’ve thought a lot about the word freedom. I remember when Shawn and I lived in Romania and learned what the people of Romania had been through in their history and seeing how many liberties and freedom we had, honestly, taken for granted. It was a needed wake-up call for us. I also reflected on how many sacrifices so many people have made for establishing this country – my dad had us recall what we learned in school back in the day – it was good to try and remember those things (though I admit, I had to pull up google for some things!). And then I think about Kai – I have these letters and notes that people wrote to Kai and I do have permission to share them anonymously and I will soon, but one of the notes was written on one of the folded cranes sent in and I remember it said, “you’re free Kai, free as a Krane” (yes, it was spelled with a K).

He is free.

Free from this broken world, the pain he was suffering. A new freedom. And as I think about that, I think about the letter I wrote to Kai last week on what would have been his 3rd birthday (June 27). I kept thinking – should I post this? Does it show too much broken-ness? Should I post something not so bittersweet? But, a wise and kind woman who has also faced (and beat!) cancer with her son, reminded me of the freedom there is in being honest about the broken-ness. We are all broken in our own way from our individual paths, stories, heck, just because we’re human. We’re in this together – and I guess this is me just saying, I’m broken, I’ll never be perfect, and I don’t know what/how this journey is supposed to look, so all I know I can do is be honest and try to look for the good….. to grieve with hope.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who were out there spreading light and love on Kai’s birthday. Thank you so very much.

Dear sweet Kai Kai,

Today (June 27, 2014) would have been your third birthday. Oh how I wish so much, so much that you would be here with us and we could have thrown you this celebration today and you would be here. I hope that you felt/saw/heard, however it works in Heaven, all the people here wishing you a happy birthday and loving you and then doing good, kind things for others in honor of your life.

Kai, I miss you so much.

There is such a huge hole in my life – you have not left my heart, but it’s just so different and so hard learning how to be your mom and love you from afar when all i want to do is hold you and talk to you and watch you learn and grow and challenge and investigate and run, jump, sing, scream, cry, talk and grow up. I would love to see you and Maya together.

We were watching our old videos of you and even seeing the one video your Dad had taken right after Maya was born where you were on the floor crying and throwing a tantrum and Maya was next to you screaming and crying and since we couldn’t figure out how to calm either of you we just decided to video tape it for the humor in it. At the time, it was so frustrating, but tonight it’s so funny how when I saw that video, my heart ached so strongly to be able to have that again with you. I keep thinking back to the last few months of your life – I keep thinking if I noticed signs you were sick or if there was any way we could have known. I feel so awful if I missed if you were in pain or if I made you “work out” your tantrum for too long when really it was the brain tumors that were making you unable to settle like you once did. I feel so awful Kai. I know that I didn’t know and that as your mom it was my job to love you which meant not only the hugs and laughs but the firmness and discipline and tears. But, I know there were times I lost my temper and I screamed and I hate that – and I know that I apologized to you and told you when it was wrong of me to lose my temper so badly but I remember your face and how sad you looked when I’d do that. Oh Kai, you were such a patient little boy when I was learning how to be a mom to you and your new baby sister and just had no clue what I was doing. You were so sweet to your sister, such a good, good helper to me.

I wish I had new videos of you and new pictures of you. I see your friends changing and growing up and I wonder what you would be like now. I know I’ll only ever know you in your little 2.5 year old body, but I feel like these days your spirit seems wiser or older somehow.  I’m so happy that last year you had such a good time in the backyard for your birthday party. I know that you had no idea what was going on but you were so so happy – Dad carrying you on his shoulders through the sprinklers and your half-smile in amazement as everyone sang you Happy Birthday. And kai birthday surprise 2013then THE best face you made when you realized what a present was and you opened Uncle Richard’s present and saw the dump truck and it was like the most amazing thing ever and you shrieked in such excitement. I want to imagine that when you took your first breath and opened your eyes in Heaven the joy and excitement and love you must have felt were infinitely beyond what you experienced here and your face lit up more than it did that day. And that’s all I ever wanted for you – to know you were loved by us, know how to love, and know that God is taking care of you always and you are safe and secure no matter what. Kai, we will always be here with you here and always celebrate you. I will always miss you and I think I will only be missing you more and more as the days go by – I can’t even imagine more of your birthdays passing by without you here. But we celebrate you today Kai – did you see the balloons? Did you hear your friends shout Happy Birthday? We love you so much Kai – you gave so much to us. And your sister – this morning, I picked her up from her bed to feed her and she was absolutely insistent that we look at your picture before she ate. I don’t know if you see her do this every morning – but you’re still being such a good big brother to her. I love you Kai, so so much. I don’t know what to say to express it, but I’ll ask God to let you know – I know He can tell you perfectly. Happy, happy birthday Kai. I’m so thankful to celebrate three years of knowing and loving you. mmmmm-waaaa!