My niece, JoriLynn Sophia, arrived on May 7, 2009.  I was so grateful to make it over to Denver in time to be there for her birth.  My sister, Jen, and I had walked alongside one another through our pregnancies with our girls, due just one month apart.  We had wonderful hopes of our girls growing up together so close in age.  From the moment Jen learned we had lost our Maggie she dropped everything to be by my side, serving, encouraging, fixing meals, watching our boys, and standing at my bedside along with my mama, little sister and aunt as Adam and I waited for our Maggie to be born.  

I felt SO honored that I was able to be with Jen as she brought her second daughter into the world.  Jen ended up facing some complications after her c-section and I was thankful to be with her then, to hug her and pray for her as she made some tough decisions.  She and her husband, Jeff, were gracious to give me so many opportunities to sit with and love on my niece, JoriLynn.  Spending that time with their precious baby girl helped to ease a small bit of the heartache of losing ours.  My arms ached the way they do from holding a new little one for hours--such JOY.  And my arms ached to hold my sweet Maggie again--such SORROW.  I MISS HER SO MUCH.  I needed to see some good happen and cannot thank God enough for protecting my dear sister, my niece and her family.  Thank you, Jesus!  I was sitting beside Jen's hospital bed rocking Baby Jori in the dark as I watched the clock turn to 1:30 a.m. on May 9th--one month since I held my Maggie in my arms for the first time.  My sweet sister woke up and prayed with me at that moment.  Even after undergoing surgery and trying to recover while caring for a newborn, my sister showed me such love and compassion as she sat and cried with me for my own daughter.  It was so hard to say goodbye to Jen, her family and my mama as I left on Sunday.  And it was so hard to say goodbye to my beautiful new niece.

I missed my boys and my husband SO dearly during my time away, however I was not ready to return to our home and the day-to-day toughness that seems to be in my face everywhere I turn. Maggie's room is still set up just as it was, crib ready and clothes on the hangers.  I can't even imagine changing it right now.  With no calls or emails on our house yet I have felt incredibly discouraged and trapped.  Familiarity isn't comfortable anymore.  I have yet to figure out how to separate the reality of what has happened from the dreams I had been making.  Finding a new normal and a new plan is hard.  I had not just been planning for Maggie since we found out we were pregnant with her, or even since we learned she was a little girl--I have spent my whole life dreaming and planning for my daughter.  It is a huge part of who I am as a woman and a mother.

Mother's Day seemed bittersweet and incomplete this year.  I was anxious to finally see my Adam and hug my Noah and Mason as I picked them up at Adam's parents' house on my way back.  I was physically exhausted and emotionally drained though, and with Maggie gone it felt like a piece of my heart was missing. It had been a long few days for all of us.  I can honestly say I have never wanted to go to Heaven so badly in my life. 

I have to remind myself that Maggie is perfectly protected, unscathed and completely taken care of, but my Noah and Mason--they are HERE.  Now.  And they need their mama to defend, protect and look after them during their time on Earth.  And my beloved husband is missing a part of himself, too.  If we don't fight for our boys, who will?  We need each other and our boys need us.

I cannot imagine walking this road alone, and thankfully, we have not had to.

Our friends and family have rallied around us, gently holding us up at times when we could not carry ourselves, letting us vent and cry and process.  Broken and bruised in the pit of despair, so many have offered their outstretched hands, ready and patiently waiting for the time to come when we find the strength to hold on.  The weight of this burden would surely crush us without those around us willing to carry it with us.  Adam and I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of love, support and kindness that so many have shown us through kind notes, cards, flowers, prayers and offers to help in any way.

And then, upon returning home Sunday evening we found our bedroom COMPLETELY made over.  A lovely, luxurious, enormous new bed, bright, cheery bedding and all kinds of little details to make our space a place of rest, relaxation and refuge.  I walked in our bedroom and had trouble breathing as I took it all in.  I ended up laying on the floor until my ears stopped ringing and my heart stopped racing.  Our friends had set it all up for us, sparing no detail or expense.  My sister, Jen, was kind enough to monogram the pillowcases for Adam and I--so fancy and so beautiful. She did such a wonderful job.

Our dear friends even surprised us with a bag of coffee on the table and two huge coffee cups (one filled with Hershey Kisses) atop a DVD set of "Friends" (they know me so well).  The note attached read, "Kisses and coffee while you enjoy your Friends."

Such thoughtful touches--they all put so much into the little details that fit Adam and I in such a personal way.  From our favorite snacks and flowers while we were in the hospital waiting for Maggie to the beautifully framed photo and poem written by one of our friends to Maggie and I.  Even the candles, plants and wall plaque to complete our new bedroom decor were considerately chosen just for us.  I had so dreaded being back in the place where everything has unfolded so tragically these past few weeks, and this wonderful act of kindness, generosity and love was HUGE blessing to come home to.  Needless to say, it was probably our most comfortable night's sleep in a long, long time.  And when nightmares are more the rule than the exception these days, it will be wonderful to have a place to lay our heads when we can find rest.

A tremendous THANK YOU to the Hansows, Hicks, Doves, Lyons, Mullens, Strouds, Struwes, Unverferths & Wards for showing us a picture of God's EXTRAVAGANT love through this incredible gift.  It is so far above and beyond anything we've ever had and you all have blessed us more than we can express to you!  And when it is our turn, we will be ready to return the blessing.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

-Matthew 11:28-30