Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Why do we need to know?

I am sitting on a tropical island right now. I am writing this blog post because what I just heard on the television behind me, I couldn't keep inside.
They are having a round table discussion about whether or not the Newtown CT 911 tapes should be played publicly, and most of these people are agreeing that it is our right as Americans to hear them.
I want to ask  each of these people if they have ever lost a child.
I did, at one week old I lost my son to meningitis. I was with him every moment until he died. And still I cannot walk into a hospital, eat red and white mints, or wash my hands without thinking of him, remembering the day he died.
These parents, the ones of the babies who were killed that day, they have it worse. The worst fear of every parent in America, in the world.
So why- why, why, why- is it our right to make this harder for them? One year later they are trying so hard. They are trying so so hard to heal. To have Christmas for their other children, to make the memories of the children they lost mean something. Why, on top of everything else, should they live in fear of turning on their TVs and hearing something they already hear in their worst nightmares? How can we possibly say we have the right to know?
I wrote this quickly and angrily, and I'll probably regret doing so. Surely there are people who need to hear these tapes, who can learn something from them...but for the rest of us... It's just not about "us".

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

When I see you in Heaven

Dear Rip,

I used to worry about when my time came, and I made it up to heaven, if you would know me.  If you would know that I was your Mama.

The day you were born, I only got to see you for a few minutes before they wheeled you away.  You were black hair, pink cheeks, and even from feet away, mine.

After that I didn't get to see you for one whole day.  You were too little to leave the nursery and my body wouldn't let me get to you.  It was terrible.  I cried and cried, and asked anyone who would listen if you would know me.  If you would know I was your Mama.

But you did.  You did, you did, you did.

The moment you heard my voice, the minute you were in my arms, it was so obvious you had very literally been a part of me and that nothing could make either of us forget that.

Even as you took your last breaths on this earth, I knew you were at peace because I felt your peace in my arms. That was a gift you gave to me.

So I don't worry about it anymore.  When I see you in Heaven, I will know you and you will know me.  We are part of one another.  You will always know me.

I will always be,


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why its sad

This probably seems like a no-brainer.  The fact that I am sad on Rip's birthday, that is. But its more than the fact that he is not here to celebrate it...I deal with that kind of sad every day.  Note that I did not say that every day is sad, I have lots (more than not) of wonderful, happy days.  Its just that each of those days I carry with me the fact that my son is not here.

When I was a little girl, every night before my birthday, my dad would tell me the story of how I was born.  The lead up (my mom eating cheesecake and watermelon just beforehand), the wait (aka my dad took pictures in the hall while my mom labored for hours and eventually had a c-section), and finally the big reveal (a little girl, surprise!).

Every person has a birthday story. A story of when your life changed the lives of your whole family. What makes me sad on Rip's birthday is that his birthday story was such a happy one.  On any other given day, I can say "well at least I know things are better than they were three years ago".  Except on the night before Rip's birth and the day after.  Those days were happy, so exciting.  The pictures we have from those days show nervous, excited first time parents about to have their lives changed.  Those pictures show our families with huge grins on their faces. They show a perfectly healthy little boy. Those were happy, happy days.

Parke and my biggest statement about Rip's life is that he is A Good Thing. He will always be A Good Thing.  We are trying hard to make our lives reflect his as A Good Thing.  But while I cherish his birthday as A Good Thing, it still makes me sad, and it is much, much harder on me than the day he died. So that is why yesterday was sad, but my sincere hope is that we will find a way that it won't always be so.  Thank you so much to all of the people who reached out yesterday and remembered our boy on his big day, it helps more than you know.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Person

"For where you go, I will go and wherever you live, I will live.  Your people shall be my people and your God my God"
Ruth 1:16

Happy Birthday, my Rip.  Wherever I am, there you will also be.
I love you so, so much.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Four Hundred

This is my 400th (okay, 401st) post on this blog.  I didn’t really start writing until after Rip died, so going back over some of my older posts today got me thinking about the past three years.

I realized that one thing grief did was give me the ability to be wide open.  Especially in that first year, I could have cared less about what anybody thought about the way I was feeling.  My grief for Rip was so all-consuming I literally did not have the ability to think about other people outside of my little family I was trying so hard to put back together.

I go back and read some of what I wrote and know that I could not write it now.  Over the past three years, as that all consuming grief has subsided so has my ability to write so openly about what is going on in my head.  Don’t get me wrong, I still try my hardest to be honest and “real”…but there is a certain amount of privacy that I think we all strive for even when we choose to blast our lives out on the Internet.

I’m so glad that sense of self-preservation left me when it did.  When I wrote how much the day sucked and the arguments Parke and I had after Rip died, that is exactly what was happening.  When I wrote about the gripping, strangling fear I felt being pregnant with Gracie, that’s exactly what I was feeling.  When I wrote about the ways I felt God touch my life during those first twelve months, I was hanging on with everything I had to believe them.

I know I would not be able to see the transformation that happened and has continued to happen in my life over the past three years, my life that has been transformed by one baby boy, if I had not written about it then.

For three years I have been writing about Rip.  That is almost 1095 days longer that he lived on this earth.  But his name has lived on through writing about him, he has lived on in us since writing this first post…and, yes, these days the good outweighs the bad.

I used this blog as a way to vent through my pregnancy. We lost our little boy, my perfect Rip, eight days ago. There is nothing I can say to express how heartbreaking, devastating that has been. There are no words to adequately say how much he was and is loved, how he taught Parke and me more about life in seven days that we ever thought was possible. All I can say about Rip is that from the minute he was born he was a miracle.
Today is my 30th birthday, a day I was dreading so much. Yesterday (Thanksgiving), was much harder than I thought it would be...the holidays have always been such a fun and exciting time for me, the loss of Rip was almost too much to bear during a time I am used to being so happy.
This morning I woke up, made Parke coffee (something I have started doing since we lost the baby), got back in bed and cried. Parke comforted me, told me it was okay to cry. My mom called to plan our day of Black Friday shopping, everyone just wants to make it better. I buried my head down deeper in the covers and decided maybe I could just skip my 30th birthday all together.
Then the dog threw up. In the bed.
Parke ran to get paper towels, tripped and fell down the steps.
So there I was, no option but to get up and deal with my sick dog, groaning husband, and soiled bed spread. And I think that is what life, and yes, God, gives us. We can be in the worst situation imaginable and life makes us get up and clean up dog puke.
I am still lonely, confused, and so so sad. I am also, at times, hopeful and thankful. I am going to try to keep up this blog during my 30th year. I want to see how much my life changes by the time I turn 31. I hope to have love, laughter, and maybe even a baby to fill my year. For now, the bad outweighs the good, but there is some good. By this time next year I pray, pray, pray the good will outweigh the bad.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thanksgiving for Halloween

There is a lot a want to say with Rip's birthday coming up one week from today, and all of the things that are going on inside of my head...but for now, I am just going to put up a bunch of Halloween pictures.  Because I think it is important to know that even with the sadness that comes with this time of year, there is also a lot of joy.

It all started with Gracie's school costume parade...she looks happy here, but she was kind of a nervous wreck
Thankfully, Dorothy was thrilled with her red sparkly shoes

Not to mention her candy

Even the boys joined the fun

Gracie's Pop reeeeaaaally got into it

Mama, Mam, and SuSu had the good sense to go with "the pretty witch" approach

I think she was in sugar shock...

The next day, Pop (my dad) volunteered to watch Gracie.  I was skeptical of his approach...

but it seemed to do the trick

All in all, we couldn't have asked for a better weekend

So Very Thankful.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I wish I'd never asked...

Last night, as we were riding in the car home from dinner, I suggested we play a little game. You know, to build up the ego a bit. I would name the celebrity that Parke looked most like, and then he would do the same. I (generously) said that Parke looked most like Mel Gibson (pre-crazy) or Daniel Craig.  With no hesitation, Parke said I looked most like "that kid from Third Rock from the Sun".

That'll teach me not to explain the rules.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The State of Me...Year Three

It seems so strange to me that I was in the hospital three years ago.  I mean, I know a lot has happened since then, but three years is a long time.  Sometimes it seems like yesterday.

But I can tell a big difference in the way I feel this year, as opposed to last year and certainly compared to the first year.  I know many of the people who read this blog have also lost a child, so I like to do updates from time to time about what my loss looks like at such and such point.  It's what I wanted to know after we lost Rip.

One thing that surprises me a little is how constantly my mind is on my son.  I mean, he is my child and I will always love him as a mother loves her child, but there is still no day where I don't actively think of him.  Every single time I see the numbers 11/11 (which continues to happen quite a lot), I say "Hey Buddy, I love you!"  I wonder sometimes if I will be saying that when I am eighty years old...I think probably so.

It still stings when people point out Gracie as an only child, or say things like, "Wait until you have two!"...not because they are wrong.  Gracie has only child syndrome and I know my world will be turned upside down if and when we have another child.  It stings because I do have two children, and they would not be saying those things if Rip had lived.

But I've notice a big shift this year, more than the past two years, towards healing.  Sometime recently I was thinking of Rip, and I had a very vivid, sad moment of how much we have lost.  It physically hurt me, and I found myself saying out loud "this will pass, this will pass." And it did.  I knew I would slip back into being "okay" again.  And then I thought about right after Rip died and how it must have hurt like that all of the time in those first few months.  So I want to tell anyone going through that now, the extreme, excruciating pain will pass.

October and November reminds me of my baby boy, but (I think) in a healthy way.  I feel more in tune to him this time of year, as if the excitement of the holidays is somehow connected to his birth.  There are plenty of things that hurt, the biggest of which will always be that I cannot squeeze him to me and tell him how much he is loved, but as I've always said I want the life of my family to be a celebration of Rip's life. He deserves to be celebrated.

So, the "state of me" in year three, is a constantly evolving one. But I find myself having fun, looking forward to life, and being able to make Rip a part of that life even as it moves forward. I find myself concentrating on the good.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Foodie Follow Up

I got some great responses to my plea for help in the kitchen a couple of weeks ago.  Lots of emails, comments and suggestions.  While I by no means could be counted as someone who knew what she was doing in the kitchen, I am trying!

Here are the three main things I gleaned from the advice I was given:

- The crockpot is your friend.  Use it often.  This is my new favorite activity...I run home at lunch, throw a bunch of stuff in the crockpot and by the time I get home the house smells great.  This time of year especially I love that homey feeling I get when I walk in and smell something cooking.

- Wine is an even better friend.  And if you don't (or can't) drink, find some other way to treat yourself while you are in the kitchen.  For me personally, a nice glass of red wine or a pumpkin-something beer makes this whole cooking thing fairly tolerable.  I've also been saving some of my favorite shows on the DVR that Parke won't watch with me (Hello, Nashville and Greys Anatomy, I've talking to you!) and saving it for the "me" time in the kitchen.  This scatters unwanted visitors fairly quickly.   Also, I still love McDreamy and don't care who knows it.  Did you know Christina is leaving the show?  Devastation.  This is another blog post in and of itself.

- Pinterest!! If you don't have a Pinterest account get one immediately.  This week we have had two Pinterest meals loved by both husband and baby.  A miracle on 1322 Fairmont Street.

I've also really become a label reader when it comes to what I am feeding my family.  Which, to be honest, kind of ticks me off.  I mean, here we are working, mom-ing, wife-ing etc. it really too much to ask just to be able to walk into the grocery store and pick up food without worrying about what is in it that might kill us all?  Like seriously, apparently that really is too much to ask?!

Hopping off my soapbox, I do want to say thank you for all of your help...the Harris food revolution has begun and I could not have done it without you!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This I Know

I am doing a Bible Study with a group of friends right now that really has me thinking.  Namely, I am thinking about what a huge responsibility it is to teach your child about God.

I think I really need to step it up in that area.  Yes, Gracie goes to a Christian school.  Yes, we say the blessing every night and prayers before bedtime.  Yes, we sing “Jesus Loves Me”.

But I’ll be honest; we almost never make it to church.  Parke usually works on Sundays and its hard to get up and take a wiggly toddler to church by myself. 

I grew up in a family that almost never missed a Sunday.  I went to “Junior Highs” on Wednesday nights, my parents read their Bibles in front of us- I couldn’t escape God if I tried.  I was around 13 when I truly began to understand and accepted Jesus.

It was a long road from there…I had friends who happily talked about God in every day life.  I was too afraid of being “cool” and kept my religious beliefs largely under wraps.  Anyone who saw my eyebrows during those years would know there was never any danger of my being cool, religious or not.

College was college; I talked to God when I thought about Him-which wasn’t very often.  I never went to church unless I was home from school.  I graduated; Parke and I got married a few years later and went to church sporadically.  I started reading my devotionals again.  I got more and more back “into” God as the years passed.

I got pregnant.  I prayed out of fear almost all night every night.  And then my baby died.  

I held on to God with everything I had...which was nothing.  I had nothing but somehow all of those years I had as I child going to church, going to Wednesday nights reminded me what to do when all was lost.  Forget being cool, I ate, slept and breathed me some Jesus.

I spent so much time on my knees in prayer in those days I am surprised we didn’t have Anne shaped spots all over our carpet.

And then I got pregnant with Gracie.  And I promised I would teach her how special she was, what an answer to a prayer she was…and Who answered my prayers.

I haven’t been very good about keeping that promise.  But I am going to try to do better, a lot better.  Because as much as I want to protect my child from all of the bad, its going to happen.  Relationships break, finances strain…we lose our most precious people.  I won’t always be there to help her through these things; it is so important that she knows Who will.

When we sing, “Jesus Love Me, This I Know”…I want those not to be just words, but a way of life to her.

I apologize for the preachy post…clearly; my cool days are behind me (I think there might have been a week in the 10th grade).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Let me count the ways

Actually, Gracie-girl, there are too many ways to count.

I love the way you jump up and dance your little booty off at the merest hint of music, including the intro to every commercial and television show.  I love the way you then yell “YAY!” at the top of your lungs and clap your hands, so proud of your moves.

I love that you are determined to get the dog to join in our “Patty Cake” and “If Your Happy and You Know It” sing-alongs, getting right into his face and clapping and calling “Dock!” loudly, because clearly he has not caught on to this whole clapping thing.

I love that you never let me get too sentimental.  I could, with you, turn into one of those sweetsy people I have always been so wary of.  But, as I sit and read books to you at night, and I take in your soft hair and baby breath feeling wistful about the days you won’t be so tiny, I sometimes reach out to hold on to a part of you…at which point you bellow “MINE!” at the top of your breath and jerk away your foot, arm, whatever, and bring me back to reality.  Thank you for that.

I love your self-confidence.  I love that whenever we pick out outfits in the morning, you put them on and declare, “Gee Gee TUTE!!”  Gee Gee is very tute.

I love that you love trucks just as much (if not more) than you love baby dolls.  I love that all the way to school you yell, “SHRUCK!!”

I love that you are a little bossy.  I love that you tell your Daddy and me to “SIT!” and “THIS WAY!” in such a commanding way that we usually do what you say before thinking about obeying a little 20-month-old tyrant.

I love the spontaneous kisses you give (even if they are usually when you have been just a little bit bad).

I love that you make me laugh out loud, even when I am trying to rock you to sleep, making funny faces and getting right in my face and whispering “HEY!”

I love our after bath routine, where we look in the mirror and you say “Mama, Gee Gee, Whoo whoo whoo” pumping your little fist in the air.

Most of all I just love you, Grace Louise, exactly the way you are.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Kitchen Nightmares

This is not the sort of thing I normally blog about, and I really don't think anybody even reads this thing anymore, but I need some help.  Well, I probably need help with a lot of things, but let's focus on one...healthy food for my family.

Some things to know:
1) I hate cooking.  I think it is because I don't know what I am doing and I hate doing things I don't know how to do (admittedly, not one of my best traits).  Also, I am really bad at it.  Family legend has it that I don't know how to make instant oatmeal.  Yes, there was once an "incident".  I would also like to add a disclaimer here that my mother is a FABULOUS cook, I just didn't seem to inherit that gene.

2) I am neurotic.  I have always been a huge fan of "moderation is key", so I don't mind Gracie eating a hot dog and a cookie here and there.  But right now I feel like she is getting a lot of overly processed school food and then not much better at home.  Which leaves me up at night freaking out that she is going to grow two heads, grow a tail- anything seems plausible around 2 am.

3) Like everyone else, I just don't seem to have enough time.  I work all day, and I don't want to spend what time I do have with my family in the kitchen.  Also, if I was in the kitchen I would probably just be standing in there for no reason because I don't know what I am doing.  Another disclaimer, Parke is a great cook and does most of the heavy lifting here...but I am in charge of the grocery shopping.

4) I like to eat.  A lot.  And I like my food to taste good, every time I read about an actress/ model who lives on steamed fish and lettuce it makes me so thankful not to be that person I run right out and buy a package of M&M's in celebration.

So, my request for anybody who still happens to read this blog...what do you feed your family?  And how do you know where to start?  What will your kids eat that is good for them? I would love to overhaul our eating habits (for the most I said, everything in moderation) but that goal seems way out of reach right now.

Anybody out there who can help or offer suggestions?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bad Dog

This weekend, Parke and I took Gracie to her very first Clemson football game.  Well, we didn't quite make it to the football, but Gracie had a blast running all over the place while we did some tailgating.  She was full speed ahead and Parke and I spent most of the time chasing after her.

At one point, Gracie found a dog.  She LOVES dogs and ran right over to get a closer look.  The dog, on the other hand, was not quite as pleased to see Gracie. Parke grabbed her just in time.  Watching all of this happen, I found myself with tears in my eyes- because this is what kills me about being a mom.

See, I want there to only be sweet, loving dogs in Gracie's world.  Dogs who, when she gleefully squeals "DAWG" with her groggy southern drawl, run over and give her a million kisses.  Because right now, that is all she knows.  I want there to be only good dogs in Gracie's world the same way I want there to only be good people.  Because right now, that is all she knows.

But as her mother, that isn't my job.  Most of life is very good, but as Gracie gets older, no matter how hard I try to stop it, she is going to encounter some bad. Bad dogs, bad people. My job is to prepare her for it, and then love her through it.  Its a tough job.

For right now, though, I will do my best to protect her innocence.  Because the best defense against bad is to know a whole lot of good.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I make a fool of myself (without meaning to) on a regular basis...its just kind of who I am. I'd like to say its part of my charm, but really its just me having a lot of humiliating things happen that make other people laugh.

Yesterday I picked Gracie up from school and noticed bigger smiles than usual on her teacher's faces.  With a jaunty wave and a big smile myself, I whisked Gracie and her little book bag out of the classroom. I may have heard a giggle or two as the door closed behind us.

I don't usually check said book bag during the week, as most of the papers, clothes etc don't come until the weekend.  This morning I did. Thank the good lord.

Inside I found a little tied up plastic bag, the kind you usually received when your little angel has made a mess of his/hers clothes.  Inside this bag, however, was a pair of old, ratty underwear.  MY old, ratty underwear.

I can only imagine that they were somehow stuck to Gracie's sheets when I sent them (freshly washed) backed to school on Monday.  These are pre-baby, should have been thrown away years ago, only worn in desperate situations underwear.  Which now those responsible for shaping the young mind of my daughter have sent home in a plastic baggy.

Parke will be picking up Gracie this afternoon...and possibly every afternoon for the rest of the year. Cripes.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pretty in Pink

Last weekend we painted our kitchen bright orange.  As anybody who has ever painted anything knows, it sounded like a good idea at the time.  Don't get me's bright, but I love the color.  It was more the four coats versus one, 24 hours versus 4, tantruming out of control toddler, dog with an orange tail, husband shooting dirty looks that left something to be desired.

Not wanting to waste my "good" clothes (which are really a myth when you have a 20 month old), I threw on some old shorts and a bright pink tank top.  Later in the day I realized it was a pink tank-top I wore when I was in the hospital before Rip was born.

And because I was vaguely the color and consistency of an angel food cake after 6 weeks on hospital bed rest, I wore this bright pink tank-top and way too much blush to my last ultrasound before Rip was born.

I wore the same tank top in the weeks after my pregnancy, when life was almost all grey and a little hot pink was all I wanted.

When I got pregnant with Gracie, I wore my bright pink top in honor of the bright pink bundle I prayed and prayed for.

Maybe it was the paint fumes, but I started to think my shirt was a lot like my life.  Here it was, albeit stretched out, a little faded, but still basically the same shirt. Here I was, a little stretched out, a little faded but still the same me. The girl who wore that pink shirt to an ultrasound almost three years ago could not have imagined what she was about to go through. The years between there and here were hard at best. But that same girl with a (painted) sweet dog, (screaming, but perfect) baby girl, (might want to kill me) loving husband and a (VERY bright) bright orange kitchen could not have imagined what she would one day be lucky enough to have.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rambling Thoughts, Mostly

Last week was our annual Hassold family beach week.  This year was so much fun for me because Gracie was old enough to play and run around, not to mention I had time to actually read a couple of books (Bossypants by Tina Fey-hilarious) while various brothers, parents, and sister helped out.  Poor Parke was struck by the stomach bug and kindly stayed away for the better part of the week but managed to make it back for some pool time with his adoring fan(s).

 My best girl

 Why we thought the boat needed such a prime spot in this pic, I don't know?

Da Da!!

Gracie and her Pop...or as Parke put it, the Oprah Winfrey of her life (she reallllly loves her Pop)

Two beautiful peeps and a tiny pink photo bomb

Not amused

Gracie recently discovered "dancing" (and yes, those quotation marks are there on purpose).  Girl never met a tune she didn't like.  I hope she never loses this trait.  Yes, Gracie, I hope you dance...

I have a lot of friends (and I know some of this is circumstantial with me, but not all of it) who have gone or are going through really hard times having their babies.  I was driving down the road thinking about this yesterday, thinking of all of these people I know who want their babies so bad.  And how these babies will probably never know how badly they were wanted.  How we wanted them so badly that our bones hurt with it.

But some day they might be driving down the road in the rain with Van Morrison on the radio and their own baby sitting in the back seat and then they might get a taste of how much they are loved.  Because loving someone so much ALL THE TIME? That is the stuff that makes you tear up at Pampers commercials and A Baby Story (no matter how many times you've seen them).

It just struck me that thirty years down the road all of these hopes and dreams who are (or will be) our babies who we have prayed for will be all grown up with hopes and dreams and babies or their own.  And that gave me comfort and also made me want to pull over and smother Gracie with five thousand kisses while she was still small enough to let me.

I warned you this was a rambler.

Friday, August 2, 2013

An Attitude of Gratitude

I realize that is one of the cheesier sayings on Planet Earth, but when it comes to being Gracie's mom that is as close to a description as I can get.

I remember holding a friend's baby when I was pregnant with Gracie, and of course this wasn't too long after Rip died.  I turned to my friend and asked, "can you believe that you get to keep her?"  My poor friend looked kind of shocked and said something to the affect of they were of course thrilled to have their baby.  It was one of those awkward moments as a baby loss mama where you know you've said the- not wrong thing- but not the thing that someone who hasn't lost a baby would have said.

I have no doubt that mama was just beside herself that she got to keep her baby, it just hadn't occurred to her that she wouldn't.

But sometimes when I hold Gracie I still get that rush of pure joy that she is MINE.  It's an attitude of gratitude.

I will be doing something like digging my shoes out of my closet and out of nowhere I will hear little feet running towards me and chubby little hands being thrown around my neck and WHOOSH there it is....sometimes I just can't believe my luck.  This little person gets to stay with me and I am so thankful.

I don't know if it will always be this way, if when she is thirteen and sassy or sixteen and (god forbid) acting trashy, I will feel so completely thankful.  I think so.  Its one more thing that knowing the alternative has given to me, as cheesy as it may be, an attitude of gratitude.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Gracie, Lately

Gracie, lately,

 developed a sense of fashion all of her own

  started to be more in tune with nature

found her inner princess

then found, not unlike the Duchess of Cambridge, the paparazzi can get to even the poshest of princesses

but she always has time for her people (and mama needs to do something with those crow's feet)

She managed to keep her sense of humor and style intact

and generally remains the sweetest, best thing her parents could ask for!