Category Archives: clara

Missing a Special Day

For eight years we have had a yearly tradition of participating in a yearly walk/run in memory of babies lost too soon to SIDS.  Our “Pink Lemonade” team has been there since the run’s first year.  Our tradition each year was to take our family picture with Clara’s sign.  It was a way for us to see how our family changed each year and a significant way to include Clara in that growth.  I always feared we would someday miss this event. This year we experienced that loss.

Infant loss is filled with so many “firsts” but this one is hard to put words to.  It is the first time we put Clara’s memory behind us in favor of other events.  It is surreal to know that the very last thing we held onto from South Dakota (and Clara’s past) is behind us (at least for this year).  Instead of spending the weekend with family and friends, we spent it at a pool with family and friends.  We missed out on our family picture and our yearly t-shirt swag.  We missed out of the balloon release and the kind words of remembrance.  We missed out on connecting with other SIDS families and we missed out on spending a day to just remember Clara.

And yet, we spent Saturday celebrating Clara’s rainbow.  This weekend we celebrated her brother’s first swim meet. We saw the smile of a little guy who has overcome so much!  The tiniest swimmer there who never hesitated to get on the starting blocks that stand as tall as his shoulders.  He sat with the big swimmers and listened to their advice.  We left with a different t-shirt.  One with Link’s name on it.  We got to cheer on this kid, yet it was different.

It is hard to look back and know you have to choose between your living child and your child in Heaven.  Walking around the pool today, I couldn’t help but notice the little girls trying to their hair under their caps and their goggles set.  It was one of Link’s teammates first meets too.  This little 8-year-old girl grabbed me by the hand and asked me if I could tell her when it was time to go line up.  It gave me a glimpse into what a swim experience might have been like if Clara was here today.  I so wanted to take a little selfie with that girl!! That simple, brief moment meant a lot to me.

As I look back on the weekend, I have to say thank you to everyone who made it special.  Thank you to Kevin and Tracee for walking in Clara’s memory for us!!  Your pictures left me in tears on the pool deck. Thank you to Brianne Edwards for keeping Clara’s sign and memory at the run even when we can’t make it. Thank you to the Iowa City Eels for being such a wonderful family too. Finally, thank you to everyone who thought of Clara this weekend. <3







Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #14

Beliefs & Spirituality

One cannot experience a life changing event without some shaking of your belief system.  Sometimes the rattle is large, sometimes small.  I have found that no matter the change, one must find their own way back to their belief system, whatever it may be.

One can shout from the rooftops their beliefs but it is in their actions that it is revealed.  Today I have opted to share only that I struggled with my beliefs in religion.  I am a believer of God but not the “religion” aspect.  I think the biggest reason for that is the pastor of the very conservative church we attended at Clara’s passing.  “You are so fortunate.  Had you not baptized Clara we would have been begging for her entry into Heaven rather than celebrating her life.”  I imagine how differently her funeral would have been if that were the case. No life deserves to be mourned in that way.  It was in those words and the pastor’s actions over the next year that were what caused me to walk away from religion.

Don’t get me wrong, we still attend church just not one that has a ton of “requirements” or “rituals”.  We attend one that allows us to believe that the todays image is how Clara met Heaven.  It is one that doesn’t require me to use my words convince a griever that they must follow a certain belief.  Rather one that reminds me it is just as powerful to allow my actions to share my testimony. Love everyone, treat them with respect, smile, and share your heart.  You never know when that will be the step that leads someone out of the darkness.




Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #9

Surrender & Embrace

Surrendering and embracing loss is a lifelong journey.  It isn’t something that you just do and move on.  Step by step we let go of things and slowly embrace their consequences.  Sometimes those consequences are good and other times bad. We have to hope those around us can give us time to search our heart for the courage to move forward in a healthy way.

Every day I drive back past this farm on my way to our elementary school.  It makes me sad to see all the houses being built so close.  The scene reminds me of the loneliness we feel in our journey.  We see the world, whole and alive, growing and moving ahead.  We can declare that is isn’t fair and hate the world.  We can hold onto the unjustness and finality of our loss. Just as the farmer can fight to keep the farm he once had, we can remain in the field alone staring at horizon with jealously and anger at the life we once had.

To surrender is not easy.  We have to admit and accept that our lives will never be the same.  We have to acknowledge that the world must move forward and that we have to too.  For me it wasn’t until I accepted that life isn’t always fair that I could fully embrace happiness again.  I finally embraced that I can’t change things.  I definitely recommend taking time to let go of some of the hurtful things people said or did.  These helped me embrace the world again. When I did, found I wasn’t alone.  There are a lot more people who quietly share my pain.

I have stumbled along the way too.  Milestones Clara won’t reach can get to me.  Once in a  while jealousy and anger creep in.  Each day is a challenge to surrender the pain of grief and embrace what is left in my world.  You see surrendering doesn’t happen in a single day.  It is something you have to choose to do every single day of your life until the day you take your last breath.




Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #8

Beautiful Mysteries

Todays blog prompt is about imagining who Clara would be today.  For me this is difficult. I love meeting kids her age and getting a picture of what kids her age do but I feel like having to image who she actually would be inevitably means one of more of her younger siblings would not be in the picture.  It is hard to feel that rift in the before and after of her life.

Chris and I talked this morning about how life would be so different if she were still here.  She was Daddy’s princess so I imagine she would be active in gymnastics or dance.  She loved music and listening to her Daddy sing.  I imagine days filled with Frozen and Beauty and the Beast.  I imagine a girl who loves having her hair in pretties and dressing up in dresses.  I imagine a lot of dolls and shopkins. I imagine that this mirror would be getting lots more use than it does with her little sister. I imagine she has her Daddy wrapped around her little finger 😉

It is hard to imagine life with just Damon and Mason and Clara.  I feel like we would still be in South Dakota and I wonder if the boys would still be swimming.  I wonder if I would still be working full time and if I would have found my cake talent.  I wonder if Preston and Haleigh would be here.  I am almost positive Lincoln would not.  While I am sad that Clara isn’t here it makes me sad to look at life without the 3 little loves that her passing brought into our lives.  Tonight, as I write, I am thankful for the chance to ask Chris his ideas of what Clara would be like.  Our talk reminded me just how much of a princess he was to her.  It made thinking of our dancing, twirling seven year old a little easier.




Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #5

The Unspoken

After the loss of a child our pain morphs from one of shock of what happened to the ache for what never will.  One thing that often still feels taboo is the longing to connect with other kids that would be Clara’s age.

When we first lost Clara the thought of holding another persons baby was the worst thing in the world.  I struggled when my nephew was born just 6 weeks after we lost Clara.  It was extremely difficult to hold him and to be happy for my sister.  I was angry.  But as the years have passed I have grown to love that little boy’s company.  After all, he is only 6 months younger than Clara would be.

I know that I have caused parents to be uncomfortable when I have watched their seven year olds on the playground.  I have been told it is unhealthy or weird to ask about them. Informally saying somehow I should not wonder.  Here is the thing… I don’t watch to be a creep or to fantasize about taking that child home with me.  I watch because I am curious as to what 7 year olds do with their free time.  I chat because I am curious about know what little girls talk about.  It helps me to form an idea of what Clara would be like today.  It comforts me.

Please don’t feel weird around me.  Please don’t feel pity for me.  Please smile and know that I mean no harm to your little one.  I won’t mention my loss to them and certainly won’t steal them.  I just wonder who my little man’s buddy would be like.  You see, we watch him as he waits for the day when he gets to meet her, play with her, and hug her.




Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #4

Support Circles

We all have so many support circles.  I think each circle supports us in their own unique way.  No single group can, nor should, provide all of your support. You simply can’t put all your eggs in one basket.

I once thought my husband should be my biggest support.  I quickly realized that, while he is my biggest supporter, his support is needed in other areas of my life.  Our grief was so different that he wasn’t able to be there for me in the way I needed.  It is okay to say it so let me repeat that… My husband wasn’t my biggest support in my grief.

I found my biggest support circle to be a group of bereaved moms.  They have all been through the depth of the oceans of grief.  They understand exactly how I felt.   They didn’t offer me cheeky catchphrases meant to make me feel better because they knew that a those words don’t fix anything.  They didn’t walk away because they were uncomfortable with the topic of loss. They reached out or listened when I reached out.

I haven’t met all of these girls but I hold tight to their hands.  We catch each other as we walk along the shores of the ocean.  Our toes sometimes feel the water. Every once-in-a-while we feel the waves trying to pull us out to sea again.  When that happens the hands hold tighter as they keep you close.  They aren’t “saving” you from feeling the water, sometimes you have to feel that wave to heal more.  They are simply helping you ride out the wave.

Each year we travel to the Run for Their Live’s/Walk Run Race event in honor of our babies.  We connect.  We cry.  We hug.  We support. I always appreciate when I see dads connecting too.   The past eight years of support has shown so many rainbows along the shore. That is what makes every mile of the drive to South Dakota worth it! I am so thankful for our friends, family, and even strangers who have been supportive through this journey. To those who meet us for the run, send us reminders that they thought of Clara, and to everyone who follows this journey every October… Thank you!

Thank you for standing by and holding my hand in person and in spirit.



ps:  Happy 8th Anniversary to my loving husband.  Thank you for supporting me in everything no matter how difficult it is.  Your ability to encourage me and let me search out the best support circles is nothing short of awesome.  I am in awe at the last 8 years and all we have made it through.
I <3 You!


Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #3

What it Felt Like

Words can’t describe how it feels to bury a baby.  Seeing her little body in a tiny coffin was absolutely heart shattering.  I had been to a dozen funerals before Clara’s.  I had seen friends, grandparents, siblings… nothing prepares you for this.

I will never forget the way Clara looked like a porcelain doll or how she felt rubbery.  I will never forget the funeral home suggesting we place a hat on her because of the autopsy wounds on her head.  It felt surreal and weird and overwhelming.  I didn’t want to look and feel but I couldn’t take my eyes off her either.

Last night as I looked through the few images we have of her at the funeral I cried. Today as I write, I cry.  I can’t believe how much this memory is burned into my brain.  She looks just as I remember. Time certainly doesn’t change the hurt it feels to see this.  I had to ask my husband’s permission to use this image today. Bless him for allowing me to share it.  We both stared at it for a long time. We both agree that it seems like so long ago and yet the pain is still palpable.  It instantly brings tears.

The hardest thing of the funeral was when they announced they would be closing the casket for the last time.  The finality of that moment is something I have never felt before or again.  There is something so different about it being a baby.  I felt like that moment was harder than being at the cemetery for the burial.  There would be no more peeks, no more touches, no more anything.  The last thing we did was tuck her in one last time.  She was beautiful and perfect.  Eyes closed she was ready for her final rest.

Do you feel the tears?
That is how it felt.



Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #2

Who They Are

January 21, 09 – May 12, 09

Clara was born during a crazy time in our lives.  Newly married and fresh in the grief of losing my brother Clara was our bright light. We quickly became crazy picture takers because we felt that she completed our family and we were not going to grow our family anymore.  Like tourists we had the camera out almost every day and in even the tiniest of events.  Seven hundred pictures in 3.5 short months!  Each month we picked our favorite ones and created a collage.

 Today we have images of her smile, her frown, her crying face, and her with her brothers.  Those are the small moments that we captured that have turned out to be such big and treasured moments.  The hugs, the smiles, the frowns, and tears.  These moments are what made Clara’s life real and tangible.  They remind us of who she was.

Clara is our baby girl.  She will always be a little sister and a big sister.  She will always be a daughter and a granddaughter, a niece and cousin. Today she is one of our treasured memories.  She will forever be our smiley little babe who loved to listen to her daddy sing and read. We are grateful to have so many reminders of the little moments that mean so much to us now.



A Piece of My Heart Smiles

Seven years ago I held you for the last time.  Your body perfect, your eyes closed, your heart no longer beating.  I will be forever grateful for the nurse who called to seek permission to remove your breathing tube and the staff that wrapped you snuggly in a warm blanket.  It left me with the memory that you were simply napping rather than the limp body that I held.

May 12, 2009 is a day burned into memory.  One with many tears and lots of questions.  It was a day we got the call, not to receive an organ but to give one.  We later learned that your heart valves went to two children.  More tears.  That day it took courage to get up and go on.

Today it takes courage to say, I don’t always cry when I think of you.  I didn’t cry today on the anniversary of your passing. My grief isn’t always expressed with tears anymore.

Grief is so different seven years later.  I used to feel ashamed that I don’t cry as often as I once did.  Ashamed that while I do think of you, it isn’t every single day.  Does it mean I love you less?  Am I forgetting you?  Never.

Instead of crying, I smile when I see pictures of your smiling face.  I smile when I get to talk to others about you. I don’t dread people asking me about the number of kids I have.  I don’t worry about upsetting someone by sharing you are gone.  I know that others will simply share their sympathy and sometimes, when I am lucky, they will ask more about you.  Not about your passing but about you.  Things like which sibling looks more like you or if we got to see your smile.  Today people even ask to see you in pictures.  They want to know know more about this little life that made such an impact on our lives.

I find my heart filled when I meet children who were born in January 2009.  I find myself watching them with a smile knowing you probably would be doing those same things.  Rather than remind me of what I am missing, I find they give me a glimpse into the eyes of a seven-year-old.  Their play, their hugs, they make me smile.

I will forever watch your tree grow in our yard.  Watch as the pretty pink flowers bloom each May reminding me of you. I will always feel a little pang of sadness as the flowers change to white and blow away in the wind.  A simple reminder of the shortness of your life in our arms.

It takes courage to admit that today, I am okay, happy even. I am so fortunate to have held you. I am thankful that your life has helped others. You were loved and you are still very loved.

We miss you baby girl!



#CaptureYourGrief – Day #30



Reflection is difficult.  This project takes time each day that I am used to sharing in other ways.  It takes more time because I need to calm the life, mind, and heart to really get to the bottom of each topic.  It isn’t an easy task.  Really it is a commitment to calming the waters every single day and seeing what is really there.

This year as I look back at the month, I can tell where I was able to reflect well.  I see my heart.  There were other days when I just couldn’t/wouldn’t go more in depth.  As much as I want to share everything, there are some things in that reflection that could cause pain or hurt to others.  Those are the pieces missing from my reflection, my movements in the water.

I thought this image was fitting for today.  Taken while on date night with my husband, it is a picture of the new theater being built on the University of Iowa campus.  It is clear that the moving water doesn’t allow for a detailed reflection.  We simply get the big or brightest pieces.

I think that are times in our lives when we focus can only see those big or bright parts.  Here is the thing, if those pieces are good memories, we feel good but we might miss out on growth. On the other hand, if those spots are bad, we focus on the wrong things and we miss out on healing.  What if you could take the time to see the whole picture.  That is what the #CaptureYourGrief project does for me.

As this month of blogging comes to an end I am thankful for the topic of reflection.  That is truly what this month is about.  Reflecting on the life we held, the love we still have, and the grief through it.  Thank you to everyone who has followed the journey this year.  Thank you to Bri for posting every day to Lach’s Legacy’s Facebook page.  Thank you to my husband who has let me off on a few messy house days this month.  Thank you for letting me spend an entire month calming my heart and reflecting upon the good times, bad times, and the little life that is still so loved.