Thursday, October 24, 2013

Another birthday without Amy

Amy's daddy celebrated his 63rd birthday Saturday. This is the first family celebration we have had at our house since Amy has been gone. About a month after she died, I took the leaves out of the kitchen table to make it small. We didn't need the space for her wheelchair anymore and all the extra room was just a reminder that she wasn't here anymore. 

I have yet to clean off my dining room table. It still has the hundreds of  get well, birthday and sympathy cards we got for Amy within the last weeks of her death. It has her silk flowers, stuff I saved for a scrapbook, all her funeral info, and the notebooks and stacks of papers that I saved from her schools. We kept a daily blog that we communicated with her teachers. I hope to one day be able to read them again. I can't even think about it now because it hurts too much. 

So...... I just couldn't bring myself to clean off that table yet for this family gathering. The last time we all gathered in the dining room was 2 days before she died to celebrate a belated birthday for her. I treasure those last few days and moments with Amy but at the same time I wish I could just block them out of my mind because she looked so bad. She was so weak that she couldn't even smile.

I put the table leaves back in the kitchen table for Bill's birthday and we managed to fit 7 people around it. 

Amy loved birthdays. She loved any kind of celebration. But she especially loved candles. She was never able to blow them out by herself but we always had fun helping her. We would sing "Happy Birthday" as I brought the cake to the table and then we would have the birthday person make a wish before blowing out the candles. After presents were opened we would set all the presents up and take a picture of the birthday person surrounded by their presents.  This has always been our tradition, even with my husband and myself, so we just carried it on when our children became adults also.

This year...........
No candles.
No singing.
No pictures.
No Amy.

But I got through it. 
I broke down once and had a short cry, but was able to dry my tears and move on.
That is what I wanted, was to just to get past it and I did.

These are the last pictures we have of Amy at her 31st birthday party.We celebrated it almost a month late. Amy went to be with Jesus about 42 hours later.

I don't know how we could  look so happy. 
We didn't know the pain of what life would be like without our beloved Amy. 
But now we do. 
The smiles don't come so easy now. 
And it will be a long time before we have anymore happy birthday celebrations.
But we will celebrate, and life will continue.
We will live the life that God gives to us and try to be thankful even if we can't smile.
I know that Amy always was, even when she couldn't smile.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Amy's still sharing her story

Amy continues to teach us. Even though life has been very busy here and I have not shared on my blog, Amy has touched my life every day. We had our oldest friends fly over 1000 miles to visit us last week. They are not our oldest friends in age, but in the sense that we met before either of us were married. My dear friend and I worked at a National Park together and she was dating her childhood sweetheart who became her husband three years later and that summer I met the man who would become my husband just a year later. We were in each others weddings and have stayed in contact for the last 37 years even though so many miles separate us.
They treated us to a weekend away at a bed and breakfast.  The Inn at Ragged Edge.   We visited the National Apple Festival in Biglersville, toured Gettysburg, and the countryside around Shippensburg for some Amish stores, and we ate! We acted like we were 16 and 17 again. Even though my body felt like a old lady! 
Most of all, they let us talk. They asked us questions about Amy and life. They let us cry and be quiet if we needed. They were great! 
Our first night we dined at The Historic Dobbin House.
The food was wonderful and they had a strolling musician. All was well until he came to our table and starting singing a song about missing the love of his life, and that she left too soon.I totally lost it! We all were thinking about Amy and I could not hold back the tears and couldn't wait until he got through the song as I was almost sobbing. He was very kind, and I told him about Amy and gave her story brochure to him. 
I shared quite a few of her stories over the weekend. If I see someone who is in a wheelchair I will give it to them. If I feel led to hand it out to someone else, I try to do so. She is still telling her story to others.
The other thing that happened was just a God-thing! We were driving around Amish country and had already been to a fabric store when my friend's husband took a side road because of a sign to a quilt shop. We didn't really want to go to a quilt shop! We couldn't afford any quilts and I wasn't going to buy anything, but the men were talking and just kept driving. So we get to this shop and a young lady came out of the house to go to the shop and she was pushing a wheelchair. She was 25 and her sister Naomi (in the wheelchair) was 27. Just a few years younger than Amy. She couldn't talk, was diagnosed with CP, was even skinnier than Amy was,  but she had the biggest smile on her face. Her sister said I could talk to Naomi and I told her about my Amy and then I couldn't finish because of the tears. Before we left, I gave her a big hug and caressed her one braid in front. The other was behind her back. I could have asked to hold her and I'm sure the sister would have let me, but I don't think I could have controlled my tears and I didn't want Naomi to see me cry. I wish I would have asked to take a picture, but that might have offended them. I gave her Amy's Story and she asked for my address as they don't have a computer. 
It was so very hard to see another young lady like my Amy, but I know that God sent us there and that I needed to touch her hand and feel her hair and give her a hug.  I'm trying to see what God has to teach me in everything that happens in my life. 
Before my friends left, we visited the cemetery and had a good cry. They are the first people, outside of the family, that have been to the cemetery with us.
Thank you my friends, for such a great visit. We will never forget it!

Carriage ride in Gettysburg

 In the cupola that Buford used at the Seminary in Gettysburg.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Six Months

Today Amy's daddy and brother planted two butterfly bushes and placed a bench, shaped like a butterfly, between them at the developmental center where Amy used to attend. She loved going to "school." She had wonderful people who worked with her and took care of her.

This dear lady was one of her best friends, because her teachers were her friends, also. They seemed to have a special connection and I knew I never had to worry when Amy was out of my sight. 
I will never be able to thank her teachers enough for  doing "more" than their job. They loved her, too.

So tomorrow will be six months. Six months since I held Amy in my arms and gave her a kiss. Six months since I picked up her lifeless body and placed it lovingly on the gurney for the undertaker to take her away from her home forever. I knew that she really wasn't with us anymore. That she was with Jesus, but oh how I wish I would have waited just a little longer. Held her a little closer and treasured the feel of her against me. I can never have that again in this world.

When I fall apart the most is when I look at her pictures, at her smiling beautiful face and remember, just remember how special she was.
My three daughters and I in Maine ten years ago.

This week I was glancing at a picture of her and her sisters on the wall and I cried myself to sleep that night.
The next day it just came to me that Amy will never be in their weddings. It about wrenched my heart out. 
Just when I seem to be doing good, a memory will come, or a thought, and it tears me to pieces.

But most of the time, I am doing good. Life continues and I am getting stronger. When I get real down, I try to think what I can do to help someone else. It might just be sending a card, or making a gift, but it does help to think of others.

Amy taught me so much just by living, but she has taught me also in her death. 

I take life slower. 
I let myself enjoy my family and friends. 
People are more important than things.
This life is not all there is.
This life is nothing compared to eternity.
God's Word has power, to strengthen me.
Prayer is a wonderful way of talking to my best friend, Jesus. 

I'm sure as time goes on, God will teach me more about Amy's life and her absence from my life here.