Monday, July 25, 2005

Holding on to History

We took a walking tour of our city yesterday, Historic Downtown Torrance. It was hosted by the Historical Society and offered some very interesting little known facts about the place where my husband and I were both born and raised. We started off by browsing through the museum, which houses plenty of black and white photos of the open area where we now live. There are also many nostalgic artifacts, like the old high school band uniforms and some of the original railroad spikes.

It wasn't until later in the evening when it struck me how common it is for our cities and towns to hang onto historical items. Most cities do have some type of historical society or preservation group. It seems that many people, including myself, really value being able to look back at what life was like and see where we've come from. They feel it is important to have a physical tie to a past time and place.

I think that what we're doing with The Shining Light Fund is very similar to this concept. We are offering people a chance to have something that represents a member of the family and their place in history. It's not representing a place but rather, a life. How strange that there are so many who don't value the origin of that life as much as they value the origin of their hometown.

Much like each original high school, church and town hall have a strong impact on the development of a city, each life, long or short, helps shape and mold the lives of their loved ones and our world is changed because of it.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Missing Out

Last evening, as the sun went down, I was pushing Isaiah in his new tree swing, which he can't get enough of these days. I laughed out loud as he laughed out loud, and I thought to myself, these are the things that matter. These are the times we'll both remember. This is the foundation of our relationship.

And then I thought about Elena. These are the things she and I don't have the opportunity to share. I often imagine how she would interact with her brother. I long to see her watching over him as he sleeps or chasing him around the house in his walker or helping mommy push him in the stroller. I know that she would love her little brother and he would adore his big sister.

Losing a child is not just a loss of life - it's also a loss of moments, even the small and simple ones. And it's not just missing your baby as an infant. It's missing your toddler, your school-aged child, your high-schooler, your child as an adult and a parent. From my own experience and the experiences that many have shared with me, that's what's most hurtful when people don't acknowledge the life and existence of your child. People think that you can "get over" missing out on the diapering and bathing, but really there's a person missing from your family. That feeling doesn't go away.

As much as Elena has taught me about loss and compassion, Isaiah constantly teaches me about fullness of life. I can see the miracle in him every single day and it's exciting to watch the miracle unfold before me. I miss Elena, but in a strange way I feel fortunate to have experienced life and loss as a parent. Knowing the pain as well as the joy gives me a stronger sense of who I am as a mother and an immeasurable gratitude for the chance to really know a love that is beyond human understanding.

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Jon rearranged the whole living room today. Moved the furniture, ran wires under the house, the whole enchilada. I started out the morning feeling annoyed that we would have a mess of a house all weekend, but by the end of the day, I was totally in love with our new living room. It's both stylish and more functional than any other configuration we've had in 5 years...and it's all our own old stuff.

Relaxing in the living room this evening, I began to think about how easy it is to become discontented. With our cars, our jobs, our relationships...anything. We get into a routine and suddenly everything seems so drab. I think that's why a lot of people find themselves fighting addictions of all kinds - there's a constant need for something new and exciting, and a fear of getting bored. But sometimes, if you just shift your perspective a bit, you can begin to be more thankful for what you already have.

There are days when I feel so overwhelmed with all the work that needs to be done for the Fund. Between fundraising, supervising the volunteer program, processing requests, it can be a lot to handle. But in the midst of it all, I'll get an e-mail from a mom whose world has just come crashing down around her after losing her child. Suddenly everything else seems so small.

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


I have this whole list of things I would do if I had more of it. But it seems all I do is look at that list and wonder where it all went. Everybody seems to need a moment of it (usually more). Occasionally, when I find a couple free minutes of it, I'll see something on TV about a great new product that can save me lots of it. But isn't my potential savings all used up on the minutes that I sat and watched that dumb commercial?

Other people seem to have lots of it, so much that they can't find enough things to fill it up. So did my share get mistakenly handed out to them? Sometimes I wish you could buy it, like adding minutes to your phone. Pay-as-you-go. But I wouldn't be able to afford enough of it, so that's really no help either.

And then I realize that even if I did have more of it, it would never be enough. Something new and unexpected always pops up and takes it, and then I'm back to where I started. So I've come to accept that whatever we're given is just the right amount.

Now, where did I put that list...

For Hannah

Several days ago, I received a request on behalf of a mom who was due to deliver her baby this month. This woman, her husband and family had known for some time that their child had anencephaly and would not survive long after birth. Yesterday, I received the update that baby Hannah was born at 10:05am and was still alive, though struggling to breath, at 3:00pm. The update said that Hannah's parents and grandparents from both sides were there, spending their last precious hours with her.

Right after reading this message, I found myself looking at the clock and picturing in my minds eye this family lovingly surrounding their beautiful baby girl. It took me right back to the day that I found myself in the position of Hannah's mother, holding my own little girl and trying to stretch every minute into an hour. We knew that when the sun rose on another day, Elena would be gone and there wouldn't be another opportunity to spend time with our daughter.

Throughout the day I was busy. I had brought some bookkeeping work home with me and Isaiah was feisty as ever (he doesn't seem to want to nap much these days). But I kept thinking about Hannah. She won't ever crawl, walk or run. She won't get to taste a pickle, chase a butterfly, make a Christmas card to hang on the fridge. There won't be photos with a blue backdrop from each passing schoolyear. But she was here, she touched hearts, she changed lives.

God bless you, little Hannah.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I've been meaning to... this for quite some time. It seems that I frequently hear a story or read something that really pokes at me in some way. I can be reading an article online, listening to the news (I say listening because I'm usually answering e-mails with the TV on) or just talking to a friend and some piece of information will hit me and challenge me to think, maybe even change my perspective. Most of the time it will relate somehow to all that we have going on with The Shining Light Fund. I've been slowly realizing over the past few months that it could be good for me to process through these thoughts.

God has led me to this really interesting place in my life. Every day, I receive at least one e-mail message from a mom or a dad who has lost baby. It's sometimes overwhelming to be on the receiving end of all that sadness and pain. But at the same time, I've been chosen (I know it was not random) to be a part of something that just might ease a little of that pain, and that gives me unbelievable joy. I believe that feeling tremendous sadness and joy at the same time is a very special part of the human experience. I never want to take my role in that experience lightly.

I'm anticipating this will be my sounding board. I may SHOUT about something that angers me or just pose all kinds of rhetorical questions when I'm confused. And of course, I'll share all the good news - despite what you read and hear everyday, I know there is always good news. So this will be a way to document my journey on this amazing road.

Remember, these are just my thoughts, my opinions. I don't claim to be an expert at anything. If you do choose to come along for the ride, these thoughts are just meant to spark new thoughts in you, and maybe even help in some way. The most important thing is that we keep reaching out to each other, keep passing the light that we have inside.

Thanks for listening.