Remembering Faith Elizabeth

Remembering Faith Elizabeth

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


It is almost the end of July. I got the "Wyland Letter" in the mail yesterday...the signal that school really is going to start again soon. It's the letter that welcomes the staff back for the start of the new year and tells us when and where we have to show up. It actually included a couple of nice surprises; 1) late start on the two teacher days - I don't have to show up to work until 9:30 (insert cheer here!) It will be the only time until next June. 2) Lots of teacher time in our classroom and a cancelled annual "rah, rah" meeting that no one really appreciates. That is a positive side of budget cuts, I guess. : ) The letter spurred me into action - something I have definitely been lacking this summer. I actually pulled out the "school stuff" that I haven't touched since I brought it home in June. Plowed through it, started working on a website for my classroom and began to try and think about going back. Next week I'll actually have to show my face in the building and begin trying to put my room together for the year. Next week I'll have to face change again...Kathleen really, truly won't be there. She'll be in another building. Yes, she'll still be my friend, but she won't be down the hall and that's a tough thing to absorb. So for most of the time since we got that bit of news I've kind of been living in denial. I'll have to face it soon enough. Like many things in my life...

Faith's birthday is in a few weeks. August 14 will mark the day we should be planning for a birthday cake and too many pictures and grandparents arriving and stuffing too many people into our house for a first birthday party. Instead, Jamie and I are struggling to figure out how to celebrate a day that feels rather hollow. We will likely go visit her grave; maybe we'll release some balloons. I'm working on a photo book that I hope to have finished for us by then. I know it's not what we always envisioned, but it's what we have. I might make a pie. Neither Jamie or I are big cake eaters, but I want us to do something that will become a tradition to mark Faith's birthday. We'd eat an apple pie...

Life is not what I thought it would be. I have lived an incredibly blessed life, for the most part. I have my family, including my two 86-year old grandparents that live 15 minutes away. I have a husband that I love dearly (even when it's difficult) and who loves me and adores me. I am healthy and have friends that are the definition of incredible. I love my job, as jobs go, and work with a group of people that have made the last year possible. Life may not be turning out how I pictured, but I still think I'm pretty lucky. That says something.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A week in my life

So, this has been a difficult week. I can hear my mother now, "Why?" And frankly, there is no particular reason. It just has been...a difficult week.

Maybe because we are getting ready to go out of town for the weekend. We are going to Denver for a friend's wedding. And among my friends, Brett is one of the longest-standing relationships I have. I have known him and been friends with him since 1991. Yikes - that's a long time. Almost twenty years. I have known all of his girlfriends and I know many of his secrets. And I definitely have some amazing blackmail pictures. : ) You wouldn't think that planning a trip to see an amazing friend to see a place that I love would cause stress. But for anyone that's walked this path, well, you know...and for those that don't know - I hope you never know. Anxiety comes as part of the "normal" life I have now. See, I started packing and getting ready to go out of town this week, and this is how it went...

1) I immediately thought, "We were supposed to be going to Denver this weekend with a 10-month old in tow...finding good friends to baby-sit; complaining about how to have a 10-month old in tow on this trip." Instead, it's just us.
2) That led to a few-too-many glasses of wine and watching a DVD of our beautiful baby...and a lot of tears.
3) That led to "I want to visit Faith." So yesteray, we took a drive to Vandalia and visited Faith's grave...and J.R.'s grave...and Grandma Mable's grave...and Uncle Earl's grave. The Largents are all buried near each other. So, we took flowers and spread them out. We also visited the Carlson's grave...the parents of a friend that I admire greatly, who coincidentally is buried just a few short steps from Faith and the rest of the Largent clan.
4) Now, I'm recovering. I'm packing a couple of suitcases, checking us in online, and writing this. I just read a new blog...from a woman who goes by Gitzen Girl. ( ) (By the way - I can't figure out how to shorten this, so here it is.)
She lives with an autoimmune disease that leaves her homebound, living in physical pain more often than not. Yet, from her writing, it is clear that she has chosen JOY. I read one of her more recent posts, coming just after her father unexpectedly passed away. Healthy as a horse, he had an unknown anaphylactic shock to an insect sting...and died. She writes about what "should" be...and how, essentially, we are given no guarantees in this life.

It touched me.

Though we do not know each other's stories, we are both living lives we never envisioned. This is not the life I thought I'd be living at the age of 33. Or at any age, for that matter. No one "should" ever have to live this...but when people look at us and tell us, "I don't know how you have survived," I guess it's because we've chosen to. With intention. We do not know what tomorrow will bring...and because of that I know that we have made the decision to live life now - right now. So - we do what we can to find joy in the moments we are given. Because we don't know if we will get anymore moments. That's not to say life isn't hard and we don't have sad moments full of sorrow. We do. It simply means that we aren't going to let sorrow and sadness lead us - we are choosing, instead, to have hope. And we are going to let that lead us.


Monday, July 12, 2010


Summer is half over - which is very hard to believe. I've done virtually nothing to get ready for the school year - which isn't so hard to believe. I know that the time will come to do that, but right now, I'm enjoying the time off. In fact, I've decided that if we win the lottery, I could definitely enjoy that life. I would, of course, have to find some way to be a little more productive, but I would manage.

July has been a bit difficult. It is the month when everything changed last year - the beginning of the roller coaster that our life has become. Last year, on July 7 (our anniversary), we went in for a follow-up ultrasound, knowing some things were wrong. I had sensed from the beginning of the pregnancy that something was "off," but I was a first-time mom and had nothing to compare it to, so I just wrote it off as that. So, we sat with the perinatologist as we looked at our baby on the screen and he said, "I see a hole in the baby's heart. I want you to see a pediatric cardiologist to confirm it." I laid on the ultrasound table and proceeded to burst into tears. We were shuffled to the cardiologist's office, who confirmed that our baby had a ventricular septal defect (VSD) and went through all it could mean. Then we shuffled back to talk to a genetic counselor who recommended an amnio, which we set up for the next day. We went home and cried and prayed our baby didn't have Down's Syndrome, the likely problem all the doctors thought we could be dealing with. We decided that July 7, 2009 will be the worst anniversary we ever have.

July 8 we had an amnio. Jamie sat and held my hand and the doctor told us, "If you come back positive for a chromosomal abnormality, you will be the first I've ever seen that has that and had normal bloodwork." We left that day with a little bit of hope. I'm pretty sure that we're written up in some medical journal somewhere.

July 9 is my birthday, and last year I went to work and had a normal day trying to wait out the longest days of my life.

July 10 I went to work again. I came home from work and had barely walked in the house when our phone rang. Jamie was working at a friend's house about 40 minutes away. The genetic counselor said, "It's postivie for Trisomy 18." I literally fell to my couch as she asked if we knew anything about it. I told her, "We've been told babies with it don't survive." She said, "Yes. That is usually the case. I am so sorry." I fell apart and I think I hung up on her. Then I paced my living room, hysterically trying to figure out what to do next. I called Jamie and simply told him I needed him to come home - right now. Which, of course, he did - knowing something was wrong. And then I called my poor parents, who live six hours away in Ohio. I didn't want to tell anyone before I told Jamie, so I called them. Catatonic, hysterical, barely able to speak, my dad answered the phone, got my mom - he called my best friend, Sarah, that lives a few miles away. She swooped up their 2-year old and was in my house in a matter of moments. Together, we cried and cried and she simply held me in her lap until Jamie got home. And then I told him.

We made a few phone calls - to Jamie's parents and older sister, all of whom arrived to spend the evening with us. My parents dropped everything and drove into town, where they stayed for the next week. Mom went to the doctor with us the next time to discuss what happened next.

July was not a fun month for us last year. This year, our anniversary was better. We spent it floating the Jacks Fork river in southern Missouri with family and actually enjoyed ourselves. My thoughts this week have been filled with reliving moments, as I'm sure the next month or so will be. It is not easy to do, but it is what life is about.