Lots to Update

Hello friends!

I realize that it has been awhile since I have had a chance to update all of you on the last week or so. I have had lots going on and I am hoping to tell you all about it in the next couple days. I was out of town for the last few days and I have tons to catch up on so I may not get a chance to post everything today, but I will get there...I promise!

I wanted to quickly take a moment to thank all of you who responded to my cries for help. As many of you know, I was having a particularly rough time last week. You all gave me everything that I needed in your comments and I am so grateful to have you. It is so hard to walk this road and it just so wonderful to have people to lean on. So, thank you so very much for your love and support.



Not My Best Day

I am in a pretty nasty mood this morning. Not really for any reason...just foul. I walked with Sadie hoping that would help clear things up...not so much. So, perhaps writing will help.

I guess more than anything, I am just frustrated. I feel stalled or plateaued or idle and I don't care for it. In my mind, I want to move forward but there is this little voice that says, "Ah ah ah, not quite ready yet". I don't even know what move forward means or looks like these days. I was talking to someone the other day and saying that although my healing is perhaps unapparent on a daily basis, if I stop and really think about it, there are snapshots of how I have coped over the last two months. The sadness is less often but more intense. I recover more quickly from my reflections of Avery, but am fearful of losing my memories of her. For me, one of the hardest parts of losing Avery is the unknown.

The other day I had my first twinge of excitement about the future. Although we are in a rough spot right now, there are some exciting things to come. New house, new job, future pregnancy. Needless to say, the enlightenment did not last long. It was strange to see that small light. I long to get there and spread my arms out wide and spin in circles. It's like being trapped in mud. You so desperately want to move and you try so hard to wiggle free, but after much effort, no luck. Perhaps you moved a little tiny bit or perhaps you sunk deeper. It is a place where mind, heart, and body cannot align...cannot perhaps even compliment each other. In fact, they are most likely pulling in opposite directions.

So today, I think I need to ask for help. This is not one of my strong suits, but believe me, I am working on it. So here it goes. Will you send me a comment of encouragement? Ok, I did it.

Many of you don't know me personally but my hope is that through this blog you feel like you do in some strange way. Many of you are walking personally with me through the grief and many are not. No matter, your words help.



Happy Birthday To Kaitlyn!

Today we celebrate the birth of Kaitlyn McAlister Keirsey!! She turns six today and I have to say she is quite proud of her many years. She woke up this morning and miraculously had a loose tooth. I tried so hard to wiggle it, but to me, nothing was wiggling. She insisted that it was loose so I said, "ok babe, whatever you say". I pick my arguments carefully these days.

Last weekend we were up in Fayetteville to have Kaitlyn's party. She was able to see pretty much all her friends, and she had a fabulous time. It was important to me to make this a special time for her. Not in an indulgent way, but in a way that would remind her about what an important part she plays in our family. She has had a hard couple months and for the most part, she has done really well. Although I don't necessarily hide my emotions from her, I do try to limit my crying and carrying on when we are together.

There is a hint of sadness today. While I love to sit and reminisce about the morning that Kaitlyn arrived, it is hard to do so without thoughts of Avery's birth creeping in. Obviously, the memories of Kaitlyn's birth are joyous and exciting. I have not gotten to that place when I think about the day Ave was born. It is very discouraging to think about my child's birth and not feel happy. Those should be the happiest moments in life. Right now, the memories of Avery's birth are of raw fear and deep uncertainty. I don't know if that will ever change...

Shane and I were talking the other night about songs. We both love music, but Shane especially has a connection to lyrics. He was thinking about songs that remind him of me or Kaitlyn. He says he thinks of me when he hears "She's Everything" by Brad Paisley and he thinks of Kaitlyn when he hears "Sweet Zoe Jane" by Staind. The song that makes me think of Shane is "Only You Can Love Me This Way" by Keith Urban. During the time that Avery was sick, music was a big part of how we were able to relate to our pain. We have all these songs that take us back to the different stages of Ave's life. Most of them elicit tears and a longing for things to have been different. We were talking about how we want to go back to the days where songs brought happiness and freedom rather than emptiness.

So here we are...attempting to make this a special day for our oldest daughter...but somehow I don't feel 100% committed to it all. It will be a fun day of celebration but there will be a portion of me that is distracted. That's the ugly truth.

I love Kaitlyn will all my heart. She brightens our lives with tremendous energy and a tender heart. What sweet peace we have in enjoying the daily adventures of parenting her!



Photos Of Ave...Some of These Are Rough

I have been wanting to post some photos of Avery during her last hours with us, but I have not had access to them because they are on our laptop. Many of these photos were taken by an absolutely gifted photographer named Jill Meyer. She volunteers her time to take photos for families who are losing a baby. Her nonprofit is called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. At this moment, the website has escaped me but you can google her info if you want. Her worked truly blessed us during our time to say goodbye to Avery. She captured moments that are so precious to both Shane and me. I am forever grateful for her gift.

As many of you remember, Avery's last couple of weeks were pretty rough. She had a lot of swelling and she really did not look like the baby we knew in the early weeks. No matter her appearance, she is ours and we love her forever. In these photos you will see our family smiling over Avery. In that moment, we were so happy to be holding her and spending real time together as a family. It may be odd for some to see us with smiles during times of such strife, but it was joyous in its own way. I hope you are able to look at these photos and remember how Avery touched YOU personally.

Love, Carissa


Oh How The Days Go By

I really can't begin to write anything about myself until I mention the most recent sweet babies who have lost their battle with CDH...Baby Jackson and Baby Ireland. Please keep their families in your thoughts and prayers as they begin to pick up the pieces.

I was catching up on Facebook this morning and I ran across a post written by an old friend. His son struggles with a medical condition and they have just recently found out that their options are far from optimal. He wrote, " This fallen world has no friends, but that’s where we find GOD. That’s where grace comes alive and hope resides." That is a tough thing to swallow. I have never been one to get too philosophical about why our lives are the way they are. We each have a story, hurts, pain, questions, joys, and struggles. They all differ, but they make us who we are. I challenge myself to find the grace and the hope during my times of monumental pain.

So, a had some crappy days last week. I knew it was coming. That's one of the hard parts of grief...it's sneaky and unpredictable. I often wonder, "When is my bad day coming? I haven't had one in awhile. I know it's coming and what will it bring?" Unfortunately, my bad day arrived on my wedding anniversary. That sucks. It was last Wednesday, August 26th. Six years of marriage and all I had to offer was a backwards attitude. Poor Shane. He walked in the door at 3:30 to me slamming things around. I'm pretty sure that was not what he was expecting. I managed to work through my temper tantrum and we made it out the door for dinner. It ended up being a good night. Over the next few days I was able to reflect on lots of things...and cry...and miss Avery. I am learning to be flexible in the emotional sense. It is not easy for me. Shane has helped me with this throughout our marriage. He is much more free spirited than I am. He models for me the art of flexibility and I love him for that. I think that it is an integral part of marriage...flexibility and compromise. For us, a constant work in progress.

Anyways, we had a good weekend. We put up a tree swing for Kaitlyn and enjoyed some lovely outside time. The weather has been really nice the past few days. Lately, I have had some times where I have thought of Ave and had more peace. Trust me, most of the time my thoughts of her are followed by fountains of tears. I went the cemetery yesterday and just sat with her. I cried a little but mostly is was just comforting to be there with her. We shared time and that's all I really want...time.

This weekend we head up to Fayetteville to celebrate Kaitlyn's sixth birthday! She is super excited to see her friends! I look forward to seeing my friends and hopefully having some time to relax. There may be a little painting to be done at the house, perhaps a cocktail to be had, and possibly some cake eating...I anticipate we will have a good time!

I am reminded every day that life goes on...with or without me. Some days I let it go on without me but today I choose to go on with it. Love to all of you...thanks for partnering with me as I walk this new path.


P.S. It is my intention to begin tackling the countless thank you notes I have to write. I want to make special reference to all of you who donated to the Avery Mae Fund. We have been able to do some magnificent things with the money you all so generously donated! Please know that we are so thankful for your generosity! I have not forgotten...I am just simply behind.