Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's My Birthday.

Today is my 25th birthday.

I'm not feeling very celebratory. 

I do, however, love absolutely any excuse for cupcakes.

Picture and recipe from
So I'm baking these amazing red velvet cupcakes when I should be sleeping for work tonight.

And just because it's my birthday, I'm leaving the sticky red mess all over the kitchen for Bryan to clean up.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


This has been a very trying week for me, to say the least. There is so much rattling through my brain right now that I can't quite put it all into words quite yet. The thought of it is exhausting in its own. So instead of writing, I'm just going to share some pictures from my recent trip home. I didn't get to use my camera as much this trip as I normally do. So I swiped a lot of pictures from my sister. Isn't that what sisters are good for? :-)


Sunday, July 17, 2011


This is Andy.

I met Andy while he was playing gigs at local bars and venues back home in TN. After the show, we would sit on the back porch and talk for hours. Dreams. Fears. Adventures. My favorites were his love stories about his parents. Some of the best nights of my life were spent on that back porch.

When I left for boot camp, Andy was more upset about me leaving than anyone else, even though he was very proud of me at the same time. He didn't know it at the time, but he was the only person that could have convinced me not to go.

I left on September 11, 2007. Andy died 17 days later.

Andy was on his way home when his Jeep left the road and hit a tree. That tree was pushed over and the Jeep sorta climbed it and hit the tree behind it. No one knows why he left the road, although a neighbor claimed to have seen another car that left the scene. The impact of the sudden stop against the tree pulled his arteries away from his heart....which is what actually killed him.

I have had recurring dreams about Andy's accident for the past couple years. Every time I'm riding shotgun in his Jeep and I'm smelling, seeing, and feeling everything, just as he did that day. He's talking to me, but the only lines I ever remember are "All of my heroes have broken hearts" and "I sure do love you Nika". Every time I wake up sweating and panicked and hurting. Physically hurting, like the things I felt in the dream actually happened to me, even though they didn't.

Last night was another one of those nights. Except this time, instead of one dream, it was every dream. Every single dream I had last night was about Andy. Or his accident was involved in some way. And in every dream, no matter what happened or who tried to change things, it was always the same. Andy's death would always be from that heart trauma.

At some point in these dreams, I was standing in the middle of Rakestraw Road and I started hearing things that Andy had said or written in the months before he died. This time, the words hit me a little differently. This time, when I heard him say "I guess that's just how my story was meant to be written", I realized that the same went for his death. No matter how many what ifs and maybes and if onlys, no matter how many ways he died in my dreams, no matter how many times I tried to fix it or stop it in my dreams, it was always meant to be that way. Part of Andy's story was for him to die.

Andy always talked about his heroes having broken hearts. Last night I realized that my hero died from one.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Letting Go.

Yesterday was one year since I lost Lilly.

I was sad, but I felt a lot more peaceful than I had anticipated. I keep reminding myself that I need to remember the good things that she brought to our life, rather than dwelling on the fact that she is no longer here. It's hard, but I'm getting there.

I took a nap after work this morning, and when I woke up I talked Bryan into going to the beach. My friend Connie loves collecting things from the beach, so I told her I would send her a jar of treasures from our beach. Every time I go there I take a container of some sort with me, and I fill it with shells, drift wood, sea glass, little crabs, and pretty rocks. Our beaches are rocky instead of sandy, and when the rocks are wet it looks like the beach is made of marbles. Bryan laughs at me because I will spend the entire evening picking out each individual rock, with preference to certain colors or shapes for certain people. (That's why they are "treasures" and not "just rocks".)

There was a small wedding taking place on the beach when we first arrived. We didn't want our loud, obnoxious collie ruining their wedding or the video, so we hiked up to the other side of the park until they were finished. I found a fluffy feather stuck in a tree branch, and I found this beautiful orange flower.

I was thinking about Lilly and how much fun it would be to have our babies growing up around a beautiful place like this. I imagined her playing in the splashing waves and taking her time to pick out each individual rock or shell, just like I do. I carried that little flower around with me, and it made me smile.

When I was finally finished with my collection, tiny little raindrops were starting to fall. I knew the flower would wilt and die if I kept it any longer. So I walked along the edge of the incoming tide water and placed it on one of my favorite big rocks. Eventually the waves would pick it up and carry it out to sea. It was at that moment that I finally felt like I had let her go, like I could let go of the pain, like I could smile and love her and just let it be.

In that moment, it felt like we had both been set free.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One year later.

Last July 14, one year ago, I woke up needing to pee. When I got to the bathroom, I was bleeding. Everywhere. Not the bleeding a lot because you cut your finger real deep kinda bleeding. The kinda bleeding that gets stronger and heavier and literally floods your bathroom floor and you fall down because you've already lost too much blood and the medics aren't there yet. In the midst of all that bleeding, a tiny little baby dropped out at my feet, alive and kicking with everything its little body had in it.

Too numb, losing too much blood, and too horrified to know what to do, I sat there, bleeding and trembling, watching that baby twitch and kick and eventually grow still.

Her name is Lilly Grace, and her very short time was one of the most amazing, and most painful, things of my entire life.

Losing a baby is hard. You don't just lose a life. You lose a dream. You lose a part of your future.

I wasn't ready for a baby. I was still dealing with a painful divorce. I was still in school. I had no idea where I was headed next. But big things happen when you least expect them, whether you are ready or not.

I had an amazing childhood. I was surrounded by brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends. We had huge imaginations, huge dreams, and huge adventures. Having a baby makes you remember your childhood and brings out special memories and details you don't always think about. The bedtime stories. The Easter picnics. The baby bunnies. The watermelon messes. Hot chocolate by the heater after angels in the snow. Late night giggles at sleepovers. Tractor rides with Papaw. Goldfish in the water fountains at Grandma's. Special presents for good grades or clean rooms. Blackberry stains on bare feet. Thinking about my childhood made me excited with thoughts of my baby's childhood. The books we would read. The trips we would take. The picnics we would eat. The adventures we would have. The memories we would make that someday she would remember and smile at and know how much she was loved.

It's that dream of childhood potential that makes pregnancy both exciting and magical. It's what gives you hope for the future, hope for the little person growing in your body. But when your baby dies, that dream, that future dies with them.

I have dreams about my babies. Laughing, smiling, so full of of life and beauty and love. Sometimes they're running on a beach with other children. Sometimes they're playing with puppies and pulling each other around in a little wagon. Most times, they're riding on ponies with Felichia, with frogs in their pockets and hands full of flowers.

They are safe. They are happy. And they are in a place so much more amazing than any of us can even imagine. But that doesn't make it hurt any less.

It's been one very long year. I've felt deeper pain than I imagined possible. I've felt anger to the point that it physically hurt. I've felt so alone, so confused, so overwhelmed that I wanted to just give up. But every morning I pulled myself out of bed, faced another day, and learned more about myself than I ever really cared to know. I push myself to keep going, even if it's only because each day is one day closer to seeing my babies again.....

(That picture is of a storm cloud over the house when I went home after leaving the hospital. Isn't that awesome?)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Some good stuff and some bad stuff.

The lazy day paid off. :-)

We took our dog to play at the park. He loves to run, so we are usually there for a couple hours. I got bored and pulled my notebook for work out of the truck. I sketched this as a possible design for our memorial garden. (You can't tell by the horrible sketching, but I had a scholarship for art school at one time. I'm embarrassed to show this. haha.) I have a list of flowers I definitely want and some ideas for some others.

I was looking at the wedding idea board I started. I'm not ready to be married yet, but I thought it would be fun to play with some ideas since I get a real wedding this time when I am ready for it. I realized that most of the flowers on my list are also flowers on my list for my bouquet. It will be beyond awesome to be able to build my bouquet out of flowers cut from our garden so that my babies can be a part of our day, even without being there.

I kept drawing a birdbath in all the sketches I did. Weird because we don't really have a lot of birds around the yard. And I never cared much for birds growing up, except when they got hurt and we nursed them back to health. But when I questioned it, I instantly remembered buying this right after we lost Brake:

I saw this on Etsy and had to have it. I don't even like to wear jewelry, but I was drawn to it. It made me smile when my entire world was crumbling around me. A few days later I found this at the Remembering Our Babies Boutique:

Right before I went back to work I had a dream where I saw both of my babies. Together. The day I went back to work I kept thinking of that dream, especially when I saw those feet in the rear-view mirror. When I parked at work, I wasn't ready to go. I wasn't ready to face a shop and squadron that was used to me being the pregnant lady. I stared at those feet, thinking of that dream, and dreading the day I was about to have. When I looked back down, I saw these two little guys sitting on the fence in front of me:

One was slightly bigger than the other but otherwise identical. They sat there, staring at me for about 5 minutes. They would occasionally fidget and shuffle their wings and look at each other, but then they would always turn back to me. I thought about the dream again and both of my babies being together and had this immensely peaceful feeling come over me.

I thought about that incident when I questioned the birdbath. Maybe that's why I'm so drawn to it now. Because of these tiny little birds that gave me that moment of peace that I needed so badly. (When we were leaving, I noticed that the notebook I was writing in is also covered in hearts and birds. Weird.)

I feel a little better about this memorial garden and service thing now, since I have some sort of idea how it might work. I feel like I will be able to better prepare myself for it if I know what it's gonna look like and how it's gonna work out, even though we all know nothing ever works out like you plan it.

We killed some time at Michaels while we were getting our dog groomed. I could easily spend an entire day in that store. (As long as Bryan isn't there. He gets bored and annoyed.) I have been toying with the idea of a scrapbook for the babies. I don't have much to show for either of them. I have one ultrasound picture of Lilly. I have 2 ultrasound pictures and 3 pictures we took at the funeral home of Brake. And I have a onesie I had made for him and some books I got him. It feels weird to think of making a scrapbook without much to put in it and without having those baby milestones to document. But I want to do something with their story, to help me remember things like the foods I liked or places we went, and I guess to sorta document our growth and healing from all this. On a whim I walked down the scrapbook aisle not paying much attention because I didn't like many of them and I wasn't ready to start doing something like that. This blog is already hard enough some days. Then I spotted this:

I love quilts. And sewing. And animals. When I saw this, I had to have it, and I could not start working on it soon enough. I bought a scrapbook when I first joined the Navy so that I could put some of my adventures in it. The scrapbook and the box of paper and stickers and all that stuff is sitting in a giant box in my storage shed. It's been boxed up for almost 4 years, since I bought it. I pulled the stickers out to start working on this one as soon as we got home. I was working on two pages, one with Lilly's picture and one with Brake's picture. I ran out of letter stickers before I could finish both names, so I got mad and put it away. Hopefully I'll pull it out when I get back from my trip to TN.

I'm still nervous about going to TN. I'm excited because my family will be together for the first time in over a year. My sister and I aren't home very often, and we are almost never there at the same time. But it's such a stressful time, especially with all the things already stressing us this month, like the babies' garden, birthday flowers for Felichia's grave, the one year anniversary for Lilly.

My younger brother just turned 21. He runs with a bad crowd, and he has a horrible attitude toward everyone and everything. It's been getting worse lately. This time he threw a huge fit that my sister yelled hi as she carried her stuff in the house instead of walking over to him to say it. He's been obnoxiously drunk every day. He's been fighting with our youngest brother. Today he threatened to "knock the hell out of" him even though he's only 13. He got into a violent argument with my sister. He said we could all go to hell because no one cares about him and he would be fine with never seeing any of us again. He's been in weird moods like this before, but I guess he passed some threshold this time because my dad told him to pack up and leave.

My dad was put on antidepressants shortly after Brake died. My mom is on blood pressure medicine, and as I just found out today also on antidepressants or nerve pills or something. She's been having horrible chest pains and her arms have been going numb, so my aunt thinks my brother's antics are gonna push her to a heart attack. Today she broke down crying so bad that she just left. I don't know if she has even gone back yet.

Part of me is angry and doesn't want to go home because I have so many things on me already. I don't want to deal with stupid stuff like this. I don't want to deal with drama. I don't want to deal with mad fits and drunken rages. I don't want to go home to more emotional turmoil when I need a break from my own out here.

The other part of me wants to be home to make the load on my parents a little easier. Granted, I can't fix my brother or the hurt he's causing. But I can try to get my mom out of the house. And she feels better when she can vent to me. (I could give my brother the swift kick in the ass that he needs, but I don't think it would accomplish much.)

Please pray for my (dysfunctional) family this week. We definitely need it.