Thursday, November 28, 2013

Second Journey to China

After a long silence there is so much to tell.  I will start with current happenings and backtrack later.  We are getting acquainted with our new daughter Meiling in Guangzhou, China!  She is absolutely adorable.  She has been officially ours for three days now. And just this evening we have really started to see a little personality come out and even a smile or two.  Meiling is an amazing two year old little girl.  We are part of a travel group of 16 families this time.

Ken and I are encountering some health challenges, but we are working through those.  And Meiling has a cold, so we covet your prayers as we are here for 6 more days.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Laughing at the Ducks

Several days ago while driving Isaac to preschool, I remarked to the boys that I wished we had taken Vivian to the park to feed the ducks.  (We pass by a park with a pond full of ducks and geese on our route to preschool).  Vivian had a favorite ABC board book, and the D page had ducks on it.  She would point to the ducks and look at me--her method of asking me to make the "quack" sound which I always did.  Vivian would have been tickled with joy to hear real ducks quacking and swimming in the pond.

My 4 year old son stored this comment in his mind until prayer time at dinner.  When he prayed aloud, he included, "I hope Vivian is having a good time in heaven, and I hope she is laughing at the ducks."  When I started to explain about the ducks here at the park, Isaac said, "No, not here.  She is laughing at the ducks in heaven.  There are ducks in heaven."  True and sweet of him to say!

$11.47 of Grace

People have said, "Be kind to yourself.  Give yourself grace."

So I'm standing in a toy aisle filled with dolls. For the second time in two days I'm looking at this doll.  It's just a little doll that comes with a doll-size sippy cup, a milk bottle and a pink teddy bear.  I'm remembering the Thursday morning before Vivian died, she saw this same doll at our speech therapy appointment at the school.  The therapist demonstrated symbolic play with the doll having a "drink" from her sippy cup. 

I specifically recall Vivian's eyes sort of light up as she took notice of that activity.  I could just see little wheels turning in her mind considering she too drank out of a sippy cup.  With that spark of curiosity, I was excited to find that doll and buy it for Vivian.  What I was really excited about was that Vivian might be transitioning into symbolic play from her cause/effect play.  This would be a huge milestone in my book.  How thrilling it would be to see Vivian imitate this play like a toddler would do!

As I stood in the store debating myself, it wasn't logical, and I couldn't really justify it, and quite frankly I felt a little silly.  But, I couldn't put the doll back on the shelf.  So, I paid the $11.47 for the doll and her accessories, and I'm not going to beat myself up about it.

The pink teddy bear is small enough that I think I will add it to a floral arrangement for our grave marker vase in the springtime for our sweet girl.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Copper Highlights

Ken noticed the details of Vivian's hair before I did.  Her hair looked an obvious jet-black color to me.  Yet upon closer examination, I too began to see individual strands of beautiful, natural copper highlights althroughout Vivian's hair.  Vivian seemed to radiate an extra special warmth and beauty when the sunshine reflected her copper highlights.  I was so excited to point this unique feature out to her when she got older.

It has me thinking about the gospels of Matthew10:30 and Luke 12:7 where it says the very hairs of our head are numbered.  I know I love every hair on Vivian's head.  I love her from head to toe, inside and out with all my heart and soul.  I can sit here in awe to realize and appreciate that God loves Vivian even more than I do.  After all, I am a finite and mortal person. 

But, it is challenging to deeply acknowledge God's love for me too.  It's amazing to be loved right down to each hair on my head.  I am thankful for His unconditional love because right now I'm not so interesting...just a study in the mess of my grief.  You know, where you can do a few things in periods of numbness and then you sit when your hands and feet turn into concrete blocks. 

I learned a couple years ago that my faith is a gift from God.  I am thankful each day for that gift because I tried for a long time to achieve faith, and it wasn't possible (but it was tiring).  Faith gets me up each morning and pulls my mind back out of the dark corners of "perfect hindsight."  Faith is drawing my heart and eyes and ears upward to listen, to be thankful, to live in the light and to walk through my grief.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Just some thoughts...

You know what else I have been thinking?  Our laundry has dwindled to a measly few loads every several days.  Vivian did create lots of laundry!  And all the pinks and lighter colors were a wonderful complement to our rough-n-tumble dark boy colors.  I used to smile in amusement as the dirty clothing pile was turning into a minor mountain.

We've gone out to eat, and I hate  that we fit "so nicely" into a restaurant booth.

I opened the silverware drawer, and we had all spoons and were low on forks.  Tears to my eyes because we always fed Vivian with a spoon and were always out of them.  Same with my small bowls in the cabinet.

Our diaper days ended with such abruptness that I don't even know what to think.

The house is too quiet without all the musical toys that Vivian loved to play with constantly.  She would actually punch on a musical toy and play with her non-musical wooden beads.  It was hilarious--she was a smart little cookie.  I won't admit to how many 40-packs of AA's I've bought at Sam's.

Seeing Vivian's baby swing on our swingset floating around in the several windy days we've had lately about drove me to insanity, and I had to take it down.  She loved to swing and we did that often, sometimes even as a distraction if she was upset.  Most of the time she loved to swing for fun.

Here's one Ken and I both doesn't matter whether we take the car or the van now.  We fit in either, and we tend to take the car.  Gosh, we were even starting to contemplate a vehicle to seat more children as we were hoping to add to our family next year. 

Our kitchen table feels empty, Vivian's bedroom is empty, our wood floor is empty of her books and toys, our arms are empty...ugh.

A Month Without Our Baby Girl

In reality it has been one month since Vivian has died and gone to heaven.  In my mind or my "world" not really any time has passed.  I don't know, does the shock go away?  I had killer headaches the first two days afterwards that 9 advil could not put a dent in.  Numbness allowed me to get through the many funeral details and commitments.  The choking grief has left me gasping for air, punching me in the gut again and again.  A physical shakiness was my constant companion for the first week and now just shows up once in a while.  Someone told me the headaches had to do with the adrenaline from how quickly I assessed the situation Tuesday morning with Vivian and made the harrowing drive to the ER. 

It was obvious something was very wrong when Vivian suddenly started to cough up blood, and I had her to St. Lukes in 10 or 11 minutes flat.  Yet it still wasn't fast enough.  I try to think how she was already in heaven, happy and healthy, while I cradled her lifeless shell of a body and ran into the building.  I could barely catch my breath, everything seemed a blur and strength from my arms and legs seemed to be literally being sucked into the tile floor after medical staff took over her care.

I have been asked a lot of questions over the last month and there is some confusion, it seems.  Some parts I'd like to clarify.  Vivian's death was a complete and utter shock.  It was not on our radar at all.  Vivian had an awesome cardiology appt on Sept 13th.  She had put on weight and her O2 level notched up a bit.  Vivian had had her heart surgery June 23rd and left the hospital July 18th.  It was a grueling but fruitful road re-establishing her ability to eat enough calories to heal and grow.  We had just reached the point of eating solid food and keeping them down.  Anyway, on the afternoon of Sept. 14th Vivian became somewhat lethargic and then had a clear runny nose on Thursday, Sept. 15th.  She appeared to be getting the same cold I caught on Sunday prior (same symptoms) and the rest of the family had minor colds too.  I was concerned about Vivian Sunday evening with her lack of energy.  Everything else about her seemed fine.  We called the doctor Monday at 12:18pm and they got us in for a 1pm appt.  All 5 of us went down together.  The doctor listened to her heart, lungs, bowel and kidneys and all seemed to be okay.  She consulted with our cardiologist too.  I noted her abdomen seemed a little stiff and her eyelids might be a bit puffy.  I also changed her diaper and little to no pee in it.  She had some dinner at home and enjoyed her bath Daddy gave her, even pointing to tell Daddy to get the basket of toys and chose her favorite yellow duck to play with.  She slept all night.

Twenty hours after the dr. appt. Vivian was gone.  Just like that.  From what we know so far it was NOT her heart directly.

Anyway, last night Isaac cried out at 2:30am.  I flipped the covers back and leapt out of bed with such energy to go to him--it was so good to be needed.  Multiple times a week for the 15.5 months we had with Vivian I was jumping out of bed to respond to her cries.  And you know, I was perfectly fine with it, glad to do it, wishing I could have been her mama to comfort her for her first two years too.  With Isaac last night, he had fallen out of bed.  I scooped him up and took him to the potty and redeposited and snuggled him up.  Only 5 minutes of my time required.  Sigh.

Vivian was more complex.  What and why was she waking up?  Did she hurt?  Was she scared, a bad dream?  We couldn't know, she couldn't tell us.  How it broke my heart, but we started a routine.  She did not like to be rocked, so we strolled around the darkened house listening to classical music and sipped water.  Eventually, we morphed that into going downstairs to the basement and watching a Baby Einstein movie.  She liked that and so did I because she would relax across my lap.  I could hold her hand and kiss her cheek or temple and breathe in the scent of her hair.  My sweet little baby girl!  The last time we did that together was in that last week, maybe even Sunday night, and her little hand squeezed my thumb.  I felt like she said 'I love you' in that gesture.  I cherished that time together as much as I liked getting a full night's rest.

Oh how I miss Vivian so intensely much!  I will keep writing here because it helps to share my broken heart.  You know, I have wanted to adopt children since I was 9 or 10 years old.  We picked out Vivian's name 10 years ago.  We waited for her for 4.5 years.  We loved and cherished her and she brought us immense joy and laughter for 15.5 months.  We will miss her for the rest of our lives.

The only thought that terrifies me is that during our adoption process we could have said no.  We could have passed on her because she was delayed in her development.  I thank God for the gift of time we had with Vivian.  It was entirely too short, yes.  But for the priviledge and gift of loving and caring for Vivian, we will carry our broken hearts as a badge of honor the rest of our lives.

I hope Vivian does her happy dance every day in Jesus' lap.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Services for Vivian

We are so moved by all the prayers we have received.  I guess we had no idea how many loving and thoughtful folks out there are reaching out to us and lifting us up. 
I think it is what has carried us through the day making the hardest decisions we have ever made.

Here are the details for services for Vivian for those who would like to know:
Visitation at Cedar Memorial on 1st Ave on Sunday, Sept. 25th from 2 to 5pm.
Church Service at New Covenant Bible Church in Robins on Center Point Road on Monday, Sept. 26th at 11am.
Meal follows at noon to 2pm.
Following that will be a private family burial.
Obituary will be in the Friday paper.

Keri and Ken