Tag Archives: love

Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #31


Halloween is always such a busy night in our home.  I often miss the sunset or opt to take a picture the day before.  This year I decided that I would finish the month with an image of the very same plant I started it with.  If you remember, day 1 was Clara’s last remaining funeral plant with it’s very first bloom in almost two years. As the month has progressed I have watched in awe as that bloom has grown and another has grown too.

I feel like it is so symbolic of this month’s journey and writings.  So much growth can happen in the right conditions.  Thank you to everyone who helped create those right conditions for my growth. Thank you for allowing me to share my wounds with you. Thank you for all the words of encouragement each day. This project always allows me to search my soul and find comfort.  Tonight I close this book and enjoy the pink sweetheart-shaped flowers that have experienced as much growth in this month as I have.  I will smile, sigh, and know that sometimes things like this are the best reminders that Clara’s spirit is still touching us when we need it most. <3



Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #29

Give Away Your Love

Random acts of kindness.  I talked earlier this week about how important I find it to be to serve others and to reach out.  On day 29 the prompt for this project was to do a random act of kindness in honor of Clara.  Sadly we were mostly homebodies yesterday, only leaving to get a gallon of milk for today’s breakfast.  It was thought that trip that I was inspired to write my day 29 words.

Last night I ran into a young woman who works at Walgreens.  She is super friendly and I always look forward to seeing her in the pharmacy on my many trips throughout the month.  Lately, I haven’t seen her and sadly wondered if she had decided on a new opportunity. So when I saw her last night I had to go through her register.

She asked which kiddo was with me and asked how the kids were.  She didn’t recognize Damon’s name and I reminded her that I do have a few healthy kids.  She giggled and asked to remind her of how many kids I had.  I shared with her everyone including Clara.  I then asked why she hadn’t been at work much.  Turns out she is going to school to be a Physicians Assistant.  She said, “Missy, someday I want to be able to see your kiddos in the office not just through the window at the pharmacy. The things you deal with and the smile you always have, inspire me to want to help more people.”.

Sometimes our random acts of kindness are unknown even to ourselves.  We plant seeds that bloom at later times.  Seeds that positively impact someone we barely know.   I find that kindness, smiles, and service to others goes a long way to touching lives in a way that, sometimes, money can’t. I often share the ways in which we give in Clara’s memory but I feel like there are more things we give that go unnoticed, like kindness.  I have always been a firm believer that you never know what someone is dealing with. No matter how frustrated you are, you should always treat someone with kindness and respect. Last night I didn’t “give” anything but I was reminded that kindness and sharing touched someone’s heart in a way that moved her to help others.  We can’t change people, but we can plant the seeds that may one day bloom in them.



Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #26


As we grow I think the things that heal us change. I have touched on how cakes and writing have helped heal my heart but there is something else that heals me too. Giving. It is one thing we can do by ourselves or as a family.

In the beginning giving felt a bit more out of selfishness than anything. Shortly after Clara passed we donated our very large diaper & wipe stash to the local women’s shelter. We couldn’t bear to see them in the closet anymore. We needed them out and the shelter seemed like a good solution.

A month after Clara passed I knew I was going to have to do something with the breastmilk I had stored in the freezer. The thought of having to pour it down the drain made me sick. After a few calls to the local hospitals, I was directed to the Rocky Mountain Mother’s Milk Bank . They were so welcoming and comforting in explaining the process of how to donate. In all Clara and I donated 352 oz. It was comforting to know that there were babies who were going to benefit a great deal from Clara’s life.

Today I also want to highlight that grief doesn’t just come from the death of a child. Some of my grief is found in the loss of dreams for my Lincoln. It is a different grief but one that gets glossed over sometimes as “you are so lucky he is alive”. While I agree we are fortunate, there is grief and guilt to work through. In 2010, after Lincoln’s medical issues and allergies prevented him from using breastmilk, he and I donated 2222 oz to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa. Again it helped us make the best of the hand we were dealt.

After talking to so many NICU families, I know that this kind of giving touches them deeply. It brings them a small comfort in the stress of watching their tiny baby fight for each day. If it helped just one baby have a better chance to reach their first birthday, that brings me comfort.

As grief changes so does our giving. What was once to make me feel better, now I do it to help others. For me, it reminds me of the best things others did for me when I was hurting. Sometimes just a simple “I am thinking of you” can touch a person in a very much needed way. A little note to say I thought of your loved one today or I am thinking of your medically needy kiddo. A few cupcakes to a teacher having a rough week or a Christmas gift for a little girl who is the same age Clara would be. These are all ways that can touch other lives and bring me comfort.

I have had a few people tell me it is unhealthy to give so much. They have said I only do it for the attention. I should seek some counseling. I am not looking for the rewards. I know how it touches my heart when someone shares they visited Clara’s grave and shared a story about her with their little ones. It is comforting when someone remembers her birthday or her passing day. It is comforting when families share they keep a safe sleep environment for their baby. It is healing to do the same for others, to offer comfort with a heart gift. No matter how big or small you feel your gesture is, remember this… you absolutely never know when it will turn out to be the pick-me-up that only God knew that person needed.




Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #23

Sounds, Season, Scents

It is no surprise that my favorite season is spring.  It is the season of rebirth and beauty.  It is the season that Clara saw in her short life.  Spring reminds me of pink and everything we love about her.  Spring isn’t always perfect.  It can be unpredictable but one thing that is always true is that spring means new growth.  It means I will be seeing my favorite flowers and making a trip to South Dakota.  The years that these lovely flowers have been blown off by the wind way too early remind me of the little life we lost too soon.

As the birds begin to chirp it reminds me of the dove in the cemetery the day of the funeral. One of our favorite parts of spring is the return of the ducks to the river.  The kids and I enjoy visiting and feeding them.  We visit the Statue of Hope at City Park in Iowa City.  We walk the area and watch as the river rises.  A reminder that not everything will go according to plan.  We will have unexpected losses but there is always rebuilding afterward.  With rebuilding comes so many new friendships and new doors to open.  Life isn’t the same but we return and continue to grow.

The smell of the warmer air and lovely smell of light rain are always welcome.  Winter is bare and empty.  No sounds but the howling wind. Nothing to look at but bare trees and frozen ground. Spring means the beginning of warmth. It reminds me of the warmth I felt when Clara arrived.  Spring reminds me of her smiles and the love she radiated. The rain softly falls reminding me of the days we stayed in our pj’s all day, cuddling by the window.  Spring just reminds me of all the best things of Clara. It is absolutely my favorite and no other season will ever compare. <3



Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #19

Grief Rituals

Things have really changed since our first year. We no longer use blue Christmas lights on our tree. We still try to find a girl and boy Clara’s age to go Christmas toy shopping for. Our first year we didn’t really know what to do for Clara’s birthday. We wrote messages on balloons and let them go. Of course, Mason’s got stuck in the tree. We explained that Clara couldn’t read them all at once (and hoped the balloon moved by morning). Thank goodness it made the move overnight!

It was on Clara’s second birthday that we thought a cake might be different and yet normal. I wanted to create something that didn’t need a candle. It wasn’t like we could add one anyway. So it was decided that the doll cake was it. Each year her dress changes and we find new ways to capture who she might be. Three years ago we began adding a white butterfly to the cake. It is a quiet reminder of the baby we miscarried. A pregnancy that was detected mid-May with a due date of January 23, 2013. (crazy close to Clara’s birthday & passing dates).

Recognizing her birthday brings comfort, smiles, tears, and love. For us, the cake celebrates the time we held Clara. It reminds us of the good memories and some sad ones. It helps our kids to know that she was born and lived. It helps Chris and me to remember the journey to her birth. It is just one of the ways we celebrate all 111 days of memories on earth and remember each one of her Heavenly Birthdays. <3




Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #12

Lemons + Lemonade

Lemons & lemonade was something that my husband talked about during Clara’s wake.  Since then we have always called things our Pink Lemonade.  My blog name, our team name for the run, even the logo for my business ties back to it.

For me the biggest lemonade is finding my gift for cake decorating.  You see our “rainbow baby” was born before we honored Clara’s first anniversary of her passing.  On the day that our “rainbow” was officially older than his sister, he was diagnosed with a lifelong medical condition.  It would require a major surgery before he turned one. What a basket of lemons!

After spending 21 days in Iowa City getting amazing care, we went home and celebrated his first birthday.  It was then that we realized how special birthdays really were.  Not every kid gets to celebrate them and there are so many more that fight like mad to see their next one.  We often assume that our kids will see tomorrow.  As parents we should be treating each day and especially each birthdays like it is their last one.  Life can change in an instant.

Everyday I am making a little lemonade in memory of my little girl.  My heart always has birthdays and especially first birthdays close to it.  I LOVE making them!  They show me that so many little ones that have made it through another year.  They give me a chance to create what I didn’t get to with Clara.  With every birthday cake I deliver, I make a wish for another year for the recipient and family.  With every baby shower and gender reveal cake, I make a wish for a healthy, loved baby who gets to see their first baby.  With every wedding cake, I wish for ease of fertility and healthy babies (if desired because there are couples that are happy baby free).

I am so thankful to have had the chance to find my caking talent.  Being able to use it in a way to honor Clara makes it even sweeter.  When Happy Cake Baker makes your cake you are getting so much more than a delicious cake and beautiful decorations.  You are getting a piece of my heart and a wish for another year.




#CaptureYourGrief – Day #23

Love Letter


I woke up to a lovely little text from my husband.  As the morning has passed we have exchanged many I love you’s.  It was a nice way to engage in the love letter’s theme although I am not sure he knows that was todays topic.  We have a date night planned with dinner and a theater production too.

We had only been married 7 months when we lost Clara.  We quickly found date nights to be helpful ways to reconnect each month.  We dedicate that time to less kid talking and more future planning.  Before Clara we didn’t do this much.  We worked opposite hours often and weekends were busy with work as well.  It didn’t take long to know we needed each other, to hold hands, to be a couple.  We needed to be united as we walked through the downpours of life.

Today we will take the time to celebrate making it to the other side and being there for the next storm.  Today we won’t write our love letter on paper, we will experience it together.  As I look outside, I see that we will be walking together and holding hands in the rain.  This time it won’t be a sad rain with tears and pain but one with love in our hearts and smiles on our faces.

“We can’t stop the downpour but I am thankful to hold your hand, walking through the rain.”



#CaptureYourGrief – Day #21

Sacred Space


My place of reflection, my sacred place, has changed over the past few years. I have found that there isn’t one place that is sacred to me.  I firmly believe any space can be a sacred space.  It is the love you have that can make it sacred.  It isn’t about objects or spaces but the love that you feel or offer in them.

 In the beginning my sacred space was her little peanut in our front yard.  I would sit on the tiny bench under the shade of her tree.  It was comforting.  The shade felt like an umbrella of protection in a world that could be so abrasive.

We have been very fortunate to have sold our home to a wonderful family who have taken care of that tree.  Last Christmas I got a picture of Clara’s tree decorated in pink lights in her memory.  I hold a special place in my heart for them.  Anyone else might have let the tree go or never thought of how special it was to us.  They took the time to care of her tree and think of her life and how important she was to us. It was a heartwarming gesture that meant a lot to us!

After our move my sacred place became that same bench but instead of it being under the tree, it sits near our front door.  We walk by it everyday.  As I was trying to find an image for today my camera revealed something that touched my heart.  That bench is in so many pictures from the past year!  Our easter pictures, family pictures, even the first day of school!!  It is an hidden reminder that Clara might be physically missing but she is still part of our lives each day.

Today my sacred space is really times that I think of her.  Sometimes it is while watching the kids play.  Sometimes it is when we serve others.  I would say it would even be the Run for Their Live’s event.  When we share our love, our comfort, our hearts, we share our sacred place.

Love makes every space sacred & every moment meaningful.


Clara’s tree Christmas 2014




The CarlyMarie Project – Day 23




The world of child loss can be a world full of suffering.  Suffering from guilt, fear, anxiety, shame, judgement, harsh words, and empty arms.  From the moment a parent hits their knees and begs God to save their child’s life to the day of their last breath, the pain is with them.  They all walk close to it but they are also the brave people overcoming it.  Each day they work toward overcoming their fears, shame, anxieties through their journey.  It is that group of women that inspire me.  They are a group that get up each day and keep their children’s memory alive.  Some share their hearts and feelings and lives.  Some educate.  And perhaps most importantly they inspire a world that needs to know
“you are not alone”.



CarlyMarie Project 2013 – Day #31


Grief changes us. The pain sculpts us into someone who… Understands more deeply, Hurts more often, Appreciates more quickly, Cries more easily,Hope more desperately, and Loves more openly.

The changes we experience after the loss of a child do not stop at the parents.  Our child’s siblings experience it too.  For the last day of this project I thought I needed to show the grief that my children experience as well.  They know far to well the pain that losing someone can bring.  Just like us they will always feel like something is missing.

For the older boys they miss the smiles from the baby sister and the memories they made.  They worry that they will forget her.  They strive to include her on school projects and pictures.  They share stories with their younger siblings.  They fear touching a cold baby hand.  The love they share with their younger siblings is far more deep than anyone can ever imagine.  They hold these little ones very close.  They aren’t afraid to show their friends just how much they love their little brothers and sisters.

When it comes to the little siblings, they often bring up their big sister. Their grief will be different than ours or their older brothers.  Their’s will happen when they understand they will never meet their sister on Earth.  They already ask about her and when they can see her.  They want to visit the cemetery but don’t yet understand why they only see a picture.  Some day we will create a shadow box for them and tell them all about her life.  For now we keep it simple…she is their sister, we can only see her in pictures, and we can only visit her at the cemetery.

Our little family understands more about love and loss than so many.  We hurt more often and cry together.  We appreciate the small things, the big things, the silly things, the everyday things.  We hope our dreams and prayers are answered so often.  We love with all our heart.  We hug, we kiss, we hold each other no matter who is watching because we know how hard the storm hurt and we know the hope we found.  Together we will get through this and help others along the way.