Tag Archives: healing

A 5 year tale of transformation

5 years ago this afternoon, a few new friends were over making iron on t-shirts with the aspiration of starting a mom’s group at church. I didn’t know how these women would become a life support for me while Owen was on life support (and continue to support me in the years to come). Little did I know that Tony Maroni’s pizza would be the last meal I had with all four of my children healthy. I didn’t know my little sister would be a rock at home so I could hop in the ambulance and focus on breathing.

These past five years started with a mother’s worse nightmare coming true … and have taught me what healing feels like. It’s taught me how surrendering brings strength. When you can’t breath … a mother’s hug, a friend’s card in the mail, a therapist’s ear, a Sunday morning church service, a family remembering your baby brings the air you need. My family and friends have literally breathed for me at times.

To my friends and family, thank you for walking these 5 years with me. Thank you for carrying me when I wasn’t able to stand and for bringing the sunshine through my rain storm.

I still cry during the month of May at random times of remembering what life was like. I am still moved by other women’s stories of loss and wish there was something I could say or do to lessen their pain, knowing all too well there isn’t anything I can say or do but listen, pray and just show up.

Thank you for being a part of a beautiful story of healing. You have helped me. You have helped my family. Without you, this might not have been a story of healing but rather just tragedy. Owen’s story is a beautiful tale of transformation. A beautiful monarch butterfly and you as the cocoon that have wrapped me with protection and shelter.

As Logan and Weston have told me, Owen lives in my heart now.

Love, Mel

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Lots have happened in the last few months…

So much has changed over the past few months. I’m approaching my 1 year anniversary at my job – which  means I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable in my role, rather than just trying to learn what the heck I’m supposed to be doing. The boys and I moved into a  new home. All kinds of new responsibilities and tools to learn how to use. The kids are getting ready for another school year. Just lots going on. I also feel like I’ve had a little more time to think about what it is I want.

All kinds of things that I want. … house projects I want to accomplish … dreaming of new flooring in the bathrooms, new toilets, paint the deck … I feel like a kid making a list for Santa. A pretty lame Santa list … but a list all the same.

Then, there are the things I want to do with my kids this year – water parks, bike rides, trips to take. I dream of a bedtime that is less than an hour long. I envision and start to plan for a “mommy boot camp” where I get my supermom powers aligned and take mommyhood to the next level. I think about how I can be more involved at Jaden’s school while still being a full-time working mom. I think about how I can figure out time for Jaden to have a friend over. I find myself making imaginary chore lists on the things my kids could do to help around the house.

I look in my **new** craft room and dream about all the projects I bought supplies for but haven’t actually accomplished. Beautiful yarn to crochet into afghans, blank canvases to paint, photos to put into scrapbooks … there just isn’t enough time in the day.

I also find myself thinking about what I want out of my life partner – if I would ever dream of marrying again. I think about the “type” I’d go for …. the rugged cowboy who knows how to fix anything but also cleans up well and likes to go out for dinner and go nice places. Someone who can share what’s on his mind and who cares what’s on my mind. The traditional man who wants to protect his family, but one who would cherish a warm meal and a woman who would be by his side always. (This could probably be another post.)

Bottom line is that life is starting to settle in but my dream list is growing exponentially. I feel like there just won’t be enough time to accomplish everything in life. It’s a constant game of choices – a balancing act of what needs to be done vs. what you’d like to get done. Where to spend your energy when you know you’ll never have enough for it all? I love to sleep, but I really wish I didn’t have to some nights. Just think about how much more we could accomplish or even dream about if we had another 8 hours to our day?

What’s on your dream list? Dreaming of what what you want life to be like is healthy – a sign of growth. There is hope in the future and a promise of a better life. Change is inevitable, pain is unavoidable, but dreaming for the future is something to work for. There was a day when life seemed like it was never going to get better. I was plagued as a single mom forever – life was just going to be hard and I would have to get used to it. I never imagined I’d be dreaming again …

Love, Mel

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Time

Time … it’s been two years.  Two years since I saw Owen alive for the last time.  Two years since my home was filled with EMTs and policemen.  Two years since I was just a “normal” triplet mom – not the triplet mom that has to explain where the third one is.

I’ve painted my nails orange.  I’m bringing dinner to the firehouse that answered my call on May 21, 2011.  I’ve invited my closest friends and family for a bonfire.  Time has changed May in so many ways.  Last year I was so anxious.  Counting the days until the anniversary would arrive.  This year, it sort of snuck up on me.  All of a sudden I found myself saying “I really should plan something – I can’t believe the anniversary is next week already!”

I told a friend on the phone, “I’m doing ok.  I feel strong.  Of course I would do anything to have my son back, but it’s hard to feel beat down when I have been so richly blessed out of this terrible thing.”  See, I also believe that Owen is with the Lord.  There is no better place than that.  He is with the ultimate protector.  I don’t need to worry about where he is or if he is suffering or hurt.  He is dancing and singing.  He is experiencing a supreme happiness.  So when I look at my earthly life – I know I don’t need to worry about Owen anymore.  I am free to graciously accept the blessings that have been poured down on me.

I’ve been thinking about what a difference two years makes and I thought I would read my blog post from two years ago: The Magic 8 Ball Knows All (May 20. 2011) Jaden said I would have another baby – a girl to be exact.  Could he have been foretelling Josie?  The heart I grew and cared for during my 33 weeks and 3 day pregnancy would one day keep another small girl live?  It’s hard to say.  Perhaps it was my god-daughter Leighton?  I’m so in love with her and pray for her as though she were my own child?  Again, hard to say …

I am hung up on just how unknowing I was of what the next day had in store for me.  I had no idea what was coming or that the picture I posted would be the very last I would ever take of my Owen with his eyes open.  I suppose that’s how most tragedies hit – unknowingly.  Smack out of no where.

I’ve got my owenge planned for the week.  I’ve laid my heart in God’s hands.  I ask for His protection this week and for this healing spirit to rejuvenate my broken soul.

Love, Mel

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A Lenten Devotional for Good Friday

I was asked to write a Lenten devotional for Good Friday – my reaction?  Seriously?  Can’t you just give me a random day in the middle?  I’m not equipped to write a devotional for Good Friday!  I’m so young and there are far wiser people in my church who have so much to teach.  My pastor assured me that I was fit for the job.  So here I am – with the devotional I wrote for the members of my church and I’m sharing it with you.  God Bless you on this sacred Good Friday in Lent.

John 19:17-37

25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 And he said to this disciple,“Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. 28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his
head and released his spirit. 31 It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was the Passover). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. 33 But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. 34 One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. 35(This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also can believe.) 36 These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and “They will look on the one they pierced.”

It was August 6, 2012.  My mom called me at work to let me know that they weren’t going to treat my grandpa anymore.  They were just going to keep him comfortable.  It was an ending that I knew would eventually come but I had no idea so soon.

I left work immediately.  I walked into his hospital room and there he was – lying peacefully with his eyes closed.  I hugged my family.  We gathered around his bed to say a prayer.  I prayed with all of my heart and all of my soul that this wasn’t really happening.  Please God, save my grandpa.  Don’t let this be happening right now.  If only he would open his eyes.  Tears screamed down my face and my heart raced with the desperation of my prayer.

We spent time telling funny stories about Grandpa.  How he loved to wear his green and gold zumba pants with his suede slippers.  The sound of his laugh.  The way he insisted on having his hair cut – “if you can’t wash it with a wash rag, it’s too long.”  There were stories of his wisdom and strength, and how he beautifully loved my grandma and all of his children and step-children.

I remember what the room looked like and where the couch and hospital bed were positioned.  I vividly remember the ‘comfort cart’ parked in the corner of the room – stocked with snacks and soda.  I remember the sounds of the room too – the laughs, tears and then this rattling.  It was ugly and monster-like.  Grandpa’s breathing was slowing down and with it came a sort of moan and rattle.  The sound was unnerving.  Freighting really.  I had never heard something like this before.  (I didn’t know that this was a normal part of dying.)

The change in Grandpa’s health weighed down the room.  Our chests were tight with grief.  At some unknown time, the sound started to blend in with the other sounds of the room.  It was rhythmic and became predicable.  It was almost comforting and soothing.  There was a tipping point when the absence of the rattling became more uncomfortable or frightening than the actual sound.  The rattling meant that Grandpa was still alive.

From something that was so ugly came something that I wasn’t sure how to live without.  In the face of loss or pain, we cling to anything familiar – grabbing at rocks as we tumble head over heels down the hill of loss.  What happens when Grandpa takes his last breath and the rattling stops?  Does that mean I go home?  Then what?  I’m not in control of what happens next.

At some point, the frightening and ugly parts of life become comfortable and familiar.  The weight of the cross we each carry absorbs itself into each step we take.  Our flaws blend into who we are – they begin to define us.  I am an alcoholic.  I am divorced.  I am homeless or jobless.  I am a failure.  When we look in the mirror, all we see is our cross, our brokenness.  No matter how broken, it’s the part of us that we know intimately.

What happens when I no longer have to carry the cross on my own?  What would I see in the mirror if I no longer had a cross on my back to carry?

We know that Easter is coming.  We can be confident that every Good Friday will be followed by Easter.  We might not know what Easter is … or what it will unfold, but we can be confident that it’s in the near future.  No death or darkness is ever without an Easter.  Our cross will be lifted.  It is no longer our own to carry.

It’s ok to find comfort in the rattling of your life.  It’s ok to take time to rest in the known misery.  But don’t get stuck there.  Let go of the known sadness and open yourself up to accept a ‘new normal.’  Easter is coming.  When you catch a glimpse of it – don’t lose focus.  The healing is just beginning.

Love, Mel

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Donor Network Memorial Reflections

My brother, sister, Doug and I attended the 2012 Donor Network Memorial tonight.  I decorated myself with my orange scarf, orange bracelets, owl earings and my purse with an orange ribbon on it.

I don’t think the real reason why we were attending really hit me until we walked in the door of the conference center.  My chest tightened.  The first face I saw was Annette, our Donor Network coordinator.  She was the one that held Owen for me after his surgery and until I could get to him.  She held my empty child … I haven’t seen her since one of Owen’s fundraisers.  But her face is forever etched into my heart.  She held Owen … she rocked him when he was empty.  She cared for him even when he was no longer there.  All of those feelings flooded back.  I wanted to talk on and on with her but didn’t really know where to start.  I could talk about what’s been going on with me … but I couldn’t find the words.  So instead she greeted me with a hug and helped me find my name tag.  Then I started to find my way through the room.

There were quilts lining the walls.  They were made of patches people made in memory of their loved ones.  Faces of people, dates of when they entered and left this world.  Parents, spouses, children.  All had a square.  Doug and I took the information on how to make one for Owen.

The program was quick but thoughtful.  Two donor recipients spoke about their experience.  They both expressed how thankful they were to their donor family.  The woman who spoke said she has never heard from her donor family.  I thought how sad that was, and I thought about how blessed I am to have contact with Josie and her family.  Maybe one day I’ll also have contact with the little girl who received Owen’s liver.

They showed a picture of each person while they read their names.  My heart was empty of feeling … swelling with loss.  I stared at each face, looking into their eyes, reading their birth and death dates.  They were someone.  They once had life within them.  Their eyes were alive yet now they are gone.  Gone and never to return.  These are someone’s “somebody”.  These are grandparents, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, children.  So many young adults in the slide show.  Teenagers, infants, toddlers.  With each new face I kept wondering: What happened?  What is their story?  How did they die?  Were they sick?  Was it sudden?  How is the family coping?

I was awaiting Owen’s picture.  I knew it would come, yet it still took me by surprise.  I squeezed my folded hands tight.  Annette read his name with conviction.  It was loud and clear.  Then they were onto the next picture.  I didn’t want them to change the slide.  Stay on my Owen.  Show his face just a little longer – let me look into his larger than life face.  But the slide changed and he was gone again.  I screamed in my head how much things sucked right now.  I screamed how much it hurt.  I felt a few warm tears on my face … but then the feeling passed.   I saw the other faces and I let myself get lost again in my questions on what their story was.

Soon it was time to leave.  The night had come to an end.  I did have some time to catch up with Annette more at the end of the night.  I wonder if she knows just what kind of an impact she has made on my family.  There is another donor network event in the summer.  I hope to bring Jaden with us that time.  I think it would bring him some healing.  Or at least I hope it would.

If you haven’t done so already, consider being an organ donor.  It’s so important to take care of each other.  Maybe just maybe,knowing that you’ll live on in others will give your survivors some kind of hope.  I know Owen’s gifts give me hope.  I continue to lift Josie up in prayer … Lord, the one you love is sick.

Love, Mel

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The Hunger Games

So I am a huge nerd and am totally excited for the movie Hunger Games to come out on Friday. I read all three books in a few short weeks when I was pregnant with the triplets. I remember being at the lake house making plans to see the movie when it came out. And now it’s here.

Funny how I could barely imagine myself going to the movie … I had no idea what was going to happen over the next two years. I couldn’t imagine myself here after Owen died either. I mean I knew a day would come when there would be pure happiness again … I also remember not being able to imagine how it would feel. How could the pain I feel possibly ever go away? It’s so strong and so vivid it’s something that I’ll carry forever. And in a way I do. I think about Owen every day … Almost all of the time. But the pain isn’t as sharp.

I found myself sad when I saw cute boys hats at Target that came in only three colors … Orange, blue and green. They would have been perfect. But I didn’t buy them. If I didn’t have three heads to put them on I didn’t want them at all. Its always unexpected when grief decides to make a quick visit.

I also thought today how happy I was that Owen was able to give his heart. I was happy for Josie and her family …. Without any pain of my own mixed in. I rejoiced in the blessing that God gave to this world. I say world and not just Josie and her family because every person that Josie continues to touch is also blessed by God’s miracle. It’s exponential. It’s not just about Owen anymore … It’s about Josie and her story. And I feel honored to be linked in this way.

The Hunger Games makes me think of Owen … A weird connection. I vividly remember being beached …. Literally I needed help to get out of it … On a water raft in the pool at the lake house. I remember being pregnant with three babies. Three kicks, eating for three … Everything was three. The pain isn’t sharp … But rather a dull throb. A reminder that one of my sons is missing. I miss him every day and I suppose I always will.

Love, Mel

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Growth

Growth is silent.  You don’t really know it’s happening until you compare yourself to the past.  When you back your feet against the wall, hoping you are taller than the last mark on the door frame.

It’s not something that happens over night.  There is no noticable differnece from last night to this morning.  But compare from last year to this year … you are bound to see some changes.  Growth isn’t guaranteed; there are bound to be some set backs.  But it’s the growth that makes you feel strong.  Like you’ve accomplished something.

I saw growth on Monday night.  I have been connected with another woman who lost her daughter almost four years ago.  Her situation is so different than mine, however, her questions reminded me of what I felt like.  When I look at myself in the morning, I don’t feel like I’ve healed since Owen’s death.  I still think about him daily, if not hourly.  I still reach for something orange to wear each day.  I find it almost unbearable to watch a tv show that has children dying in the story line.  I force myself to face the pain though, hoping it will eventually help numb the hurt.

I didn’t realize that the pain isn’t as breath taking as 8 months ago.  I didn’t realize that I no longer had those stomach aches thinking that I could have done something to get a different outcome.  Were his sheets too loose?  Did I do CPR right?  Were my compressions hard enough?  Too hard?  Did I count right when giving him breaths.  I suppose you could say that I have accepted why Owen died.  Even though we don’t have a black and white answer (still waiting for DNA testing), it doesn’t matter.  I couldn’t have done anything to stop what happened.  No one is to blame but the fact that we live in this world.

I still think about all the things I wish I would have done differently.  I think about wishing I had kept the shirt he wore at the funeral.  It was an orange button down shirt – Logan wore his matching green one and Weston wore his blue blue shirt.  I regret not having his shirt to make a pillow out of.  Something to hug when I yearn to be holding him instead.

I wish I would have kept his baptismal blanket.  What would I really need with it now?  It’s really something beautiful that the same blanket that brought him into his Christian life, also went with him from this world.  I know that he had a blanket to comfort him as his body faced cremation.

I still have the regrets, but I have grown to be able to remind myself, that I made the “right” choice.  I say “right” because what is really right about a child dying?  There is no “right” choice.  There are those choices that you make and those that you regret.  But nothing about it is right.

I was surprised to see growth in myself so soon.  It’s only been 8 months.  Yet, it seems like so much longer.  I remember a mom telling me that the pain never really goes away, it just gets easier to live with.  I suppose there is a lot of truth in that statement.  It’s not easy to live with …. but it is easier today than it was on May 26, 2011.

I pray for continued growth.  I pray that God continues to bless me and my family.  I pray thanksgiving for my invisible healing.  And I pray for others who are in need of healing and growth.

Love, Mel

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Another Super Bowl Sunday

52 weeks ago, the triplets were baptized.  354 days ago.  February 6th.  I think I realized the anniversary date a few days ago.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel.  Was it going to feel like my heart was being ripped out like it was during Thanksgiving?  Would it be easier because I was expecting a hard day?  Either way this day was coming.

As I got dressed for church I questioned – What if there is another baptism today?  Do I pray there isn’t?  Do I hope there is?  After all a baptism is something wonderful and beautiful.  Perhaps it would give me something to be hopeful for.  Or perhaps it would twist the knife already stabbing at my chest.

As Jaden and I drove to church, I remembered what I was wearing a year ago.  The new top I bought from TJ Max.  I remembered how all 6 of us had piled into the car that morning.  My family was waiting for us at church as they swept the babies away to dress them in their Packer jerseys.  How I was 40 pounds lighter!  I hadn’t been that skinny since college.  One of the perks to nursing I suppose.

I found my seat in church and first thing I checked was the bulletin.  OK – no baptism today.  A little bit of relief.

As church started I almost waited for them to acknowledge that it was the year mark of the triplet’s baptism.  I felt like I was screaming inside – mention Owen!  Say his name!  Please, let it still be about him!  Please someone recognize today.  Let someone say that they remember what today is.  Am I the only one?  It’s like he is slipping more and more out of the present.  He’s more and more a memory of “last year” rather than still living in today.

I found myself begging Owen to show his face to me.  I found myself confessing how terribly bad I wanted to see his eyes full of life again.  Please Owen, I want to hold you, feel you hold my finger, hear you cry.  My pain came out in tears as I took communion.  I felt that he was near – the child comforting his grieving mother.

The sermon was about healing.  Jesus healed the sick – those with fevers, possessed by demons, the lame.  Would he heal a broken heart the same way?  It’s something you can’t see, but at times it’s as physical as a broken bone.  It stops you dead in your tracks.  I find it hard to breath through the pain.  Yet, no one can see it.  I have to find the energy and the words to explain what is going on with me.

If I cut my finger open and was bleeding, Doug would know why I was crying.  He might help and get me a towel.  He would check on me to see if I was ok – offer to take me to see a doctor.  When I cry because I miss Owen – he doesn’t understand.  What is going on with you?  I tell him I miss Owen.  But it’s still hard for him to care for my invisible pain.  What I need is different each time I miss him.  He can’t see the wound – no one can see the wounds I carry.  Just when you think it’s starting to heal, something rips it wide open again.

So I had a sad day yesterday.  I cried –  boogers and everything.  I laid in bed with my hooded sweatshirt over my face, eyes closed.  I napped.  I had a beer during the Super Bowl.  Sunday could be a terrible day.  Monday would be better.  I’ll let myself have a day – but tomorrow would be better.

Love, Mel

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It’s been a while …

It’s been a while since I last posted.  I started to ask myself … why haven’t you made more time to write lately?  What are you doing with your time once spent pouring your heart into a post?  The answer is living.  Just that … living.

I spend more time with Doug – we’ve been hooked on watching Supernatural from the beginning.  We are through season one and half way through season two.  He got all six seasons for Christmas.  I humored him by watching a few episodes and now … I am embarrassed to admit … I’m hooked 🙂

I’ve been crocheting like a crazy woman.  I’m really enjoying learning new stitches and patterns.  I’m proud to say that I figured out the star stitch before my crochet and crafting queen friend Abby.  I need to brag about it now before she passes me up again.  It’s only a matter of time … she’s wicked with a crochet hook.  I’ve made many cowls and infinity scarves.  I’ve also made two hats … loving the brims!  It keeps my hands busy while trying to stay up longer watching Supernatural. It’s also something I enjoy doing while watching the babies play in the living room.

My Supermom’s group is starting up again … we’ve got a few meetings this month and I’m really looking forward to our Love and Logic parenting class coming up at the end of the month.  I read a Love and Logic book when I first stayed at home.  Jaden only went to school in the morning and we were just about killing each other by the time Doug got home from work.  The book saved the both of us.  Like any parenting philosophy some if it doesn’t really work for us … I pick and choose what works for our family.

I feel almost back to myself.  I feel like Mel again … less like a grieving – world has turned upside down – not sure what I’m supposed to do with my life sort of mom.  When I think about this I sometimes feel guilty.  Like I shouldn’t be feeling like “me.”  One fourth of “me” died only 7 1/2 months ago.  I suppose it’s healthy to heal … it’s normal to feel ok.  I do think about the time when it’s not going to be ok again.  It’s only a matter of time before something hits me and I feel the weight of grief again.

I keep singing the song “I am free” in my head.  Helps me to remember that it’s ok to accept God’s grace.  To allow him to work in my life and to feel happiness again.  I’ve said this before … but I still have a long life to live in this world.  It totally blows that Owen left.  I’m not sure how else to say it.  It blows.  I would do anything to have him back.  But I do acknowledge the impossibility of that wish.  So I must live.  Live for my other three children still in this world with me.  Live for my marriage and my husband. Focus on nurturing that relationship.  I must allow myself to heal.  It’s ok to heal.  God wants to heal me.  So if I allow him … happiness will again fill my life and it’s something to be thankful for, not ashamed of.  (easier to type than to believe at times)

Here is to more crocheting … more geeky bonding with Doug … more Supermom madness … more being Mel.

Love, Mel

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Today’s Rounds

Rounds today where quick. From my experience, it’s a good thing when doctors don’t have much to say. The warming is going well…nothing too exciting. His legs don’t feel like frozen chicken thighs and his color is coming back a little.

His blood pressure is slightly lower. They are standing by with meds if we need them but so far we haven’t. His pulse is a little quicker, that bit goes along with being warmer. Things slow down when cold. It’s within the normal range.

When he reaches normal temperature we are going to stop giving him the paralysis meds. It takes about 8-10 hours to metabolize. Then we wait and watch. Will he open his eyes? Will he move his arms or legs? Will he hold my finger like I’ve been longing for? Cant he breath on his own? Time. Prayer.

They commented on how his temperature has remained pretty stable the whole time. There hasn’t been spikes or dips … Here comes the kicker. Dr Meyer said that it looks like things are a little more organized in Owen than previous patients. My heart tightened and I took a quick breath.

It’s taking all of my power not to hold on too tightly to those words. Could we honestly be a part of the 2%? Owen the miracle baby? On Saturday and Sunday if you asked me I would have said I’ve lost him. He’s gone and I can’t find him. But he is here. He is getting ready to come back. I just know it. It has to be true.

Your prayers are being heard. Scream your prayers – whisper them – write them down. Just keep praying. Your strength is working. Thank you thank you thank you. I know I’ll never be able to pay those back who have been so generous to us. Thank you.

Love, Mel

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