"Our Little Trooper"

"Our Little Trooper"
"Let me live, that I may praise you!" Psalm 119:175

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Visiting Jalene's resting place without Rowan for the first time...

Rowan had lots of "special" things he liked to do to remember his angel friends...visiting their resting places on their birthday or on the anniversary of their death was always very important to him.  He typically took bright beautiful balloons, flowers, and sometimes a gift or artwork he had done for their Mommas.  Today was one of those special days, a very special one.  Not only was today 2 years since Jalene passed on March 15, 2015, it was also 3 months since Rowan passed on December 15, 2016.  I knew exactly what Rowan and I would have been doing today if he were still alive...so I did it, without him.

I went to the store and bought some very pretty flowers...yellow and pink ones for Jalene, and orange to represent Rowan.

I also picked out balloons that I thought he would definitely have liked...more pinks, yellows and oranges...with a special one that said: "You are my sunshine!"  I could just see him smiling, and almost feel him picking it out himself for his friend Jalene.

Rowan obviously couldn't draw a picture for Jalene or Jen today himself, but I remembered a special drawing that we had been given in Seattle, just a week or so before Rowan passed.  A young lady, Amelia Rikstad (the daughter of one of the Washington National Guardsman that visited Rowan often in Seattle), did this beautiful piece. 

She was inspired by the blog post I had done about Rowan seeing  (and then painting) Jalene's angel just before she passed.  Amelia even included the yellow glow that Rowan had said he saw around Jalene's angel, as it hovered over her body.  When I pulled this drawing that Amelia did out again today, I couldn't believe the significance...it was Jalene's angel, praying for Rowan, "Hope".  Amelia did not know that Rowan was about to pass when she drew this, but today I realized, it looks like Jalene at Rowan's grave actually.  So very poignant.  So very special.  I took it to make color copies of it, and brought it to Jen, Jalene's Mom today at the cemetery.  I would be visiting Jalene without Rowan for the first time, but I was reminded that they are together in Heaven, taking care of each other.

Jen met me there today, and I was reminded that while we miss our children more than words can express, God brought us together years ago, to help take care of each other while we are separated from our angel babies.  For that, I am forever grateful.

Today was difficult, I'm not going to lie...visiting children's graves always is.  But there was peace and beauty around us as well. 

Thank you Rowan, for helping me pick out the special flowers and balloons.  Thank you Amelia for your most precious artwork, that I already loved, but now Jen will cherish too, I'm sure.  Thank you Jen for joining me today.  Thank you Jalene for being Rowan's angel friend.  Thank you Jesus, for keeping them both in your arms until we get there.

Thank you to all who have followed these precious children, both in life, and still now as angels in heaven.  Please remember both of their life messages:

Jalene: "Love everyone the same!"

Rowan: "Love your life!"

Monday, March 13, 2017

I hope you can see the Bluebonnets from heaven...

Rowan loved bluebonnet season so much.  It was his favorite time of year. I can still hear his sweet little voice saying, "I can't wait for Fwing to get here, so we can see all the bluebonnets." 

This picture popped up on my Facebook memories this week...

...his sweet little hand cradling a single bluebonnet 3 years ago. 

It reminded me of a million different photos I took of him every year along Texas roadsides, in patches or fields of bluebonnets.  It was more than tradition...it was life.

After Rowan's first transplant failed, and we explained that we would have to start completely over, Rowan knew that meant he would be in Seattle much longer than we originally planned.  I told him, "It's ok Rowan, even if we do another transplant, we should still be home in time for the bluebonnets."  We were...but not the way I thought we would be. 

These bluebonnets popped up in my yard a week or so ago...

I had made it home in time to see them after all, but not Rowan.  Baby boy, I hope there are bluebonnets all over Heaven (I'm sure there are), and I hope that you can see all the specks of blue from the bluebonnets down here too. 

I will never see another one without thinking of you...because this is one of the ways I imagine it looked, when you  entered Heaven...

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sasquatch in Fredericksburg? Thank you Rowan!

This weekend I was able to get away with a friend for a few days in Fredericksburg.  Neither of us had been able to get much sleep lately and were just looking for a quiet retreat.  I arrived at the cabin first and as I looked around the room I noticed the guest book.  I opened it up to a random page and started smiling, almost immediately, as I read it...

If you know anything about Rowan at all, you know how much he loved looking for Big Foot. 

It was one of his very favorite past times in Seattle whenever he was not in the hospital...because Washington was so "Squatchy", as he would say. 

He had big dreams to go squatchin' with Bobo and Ranae from finding Big Foot, and with his buddy Khale someday.

I loved reading that one of the guests who had stayed in this particular cabin thought they saw a Sasquatch here. (The entry was from just days after Rowan passed away too:).  All I could think about was how excited that would have made Rowan if he were staying with me here this weekend himself.

Thanks for the sign Rowan.  Tonight, I think I'll sit out on the porch swing of this cabin, with a glass of wine, and keep my eyes and ears peeled for Big Foot...in your honor buddy.

By the way, if anyone is ever in the Fredericksburg area, looking for a quaint, quiet, nicely finished out cabin, to relax and enjoy the Texas Hill Country...try Vineyard Trail Cottages. 

I love you and I miss you Rowan....every bit of you!
Right down to your fabulous squatchin' rain boots...

I've had 81 days without you...
but you've had 81 days with Jesus.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

"Quilted with Love"...from Rowan and I, to you Keiba, Justin and family...

I am not going to apologize this time, for how long it has been since my last blog post.  I am learning that I can only do what I can do.  This has been the MOST difficult time in my entire life, and it probably always will be...at least I hope so, because I cannot imagine anything worse.  However, I am doing my best to find things that honor Rowan's life...things that would make him proud...moments I know he would love to be here for.

This past Sunday, I was able to have one of those moments.  I was able to meet my friend, and fellow mother of an angel child, at the cemetery...the cemetery where both our sons have been laid to rest...both within this past year.

Justin and Rowan shared doctors, spent time at the same hematology/oncology clinic and hospital in San Antonio, and then our families shared their Ferrari Kids Event together.  None of us could have imagined that we would both lose our sons within the year though.  Justin passed away from Leukemia a few short weeks later, Rowan from transplant related complications several months after.  This is not a club you want to belong to, but a bond that solidifies mother's hearts instantaneously.

Keiba and I met again for lunch, just a week or two before Rowan and I left for Seattle.  I love to make quilts, and have especially felt led to make memory quilts for parent's who have lost children.  I never dreamed I would be in that group myself, but I have just always felt led to bless parents by honoring the life they gave their children, however short it may have been, with something they could look at for years to come.  I either used photos on the quilts or the child's clothes...whatever the family felt ok giving me.

Justin's mom gave me a huge laundry basket of his clothes. She told me not to worry about when I worked on it.  She told me I could wait until Rowan and I returned from Seattle, etc.  But I just did not feel right leaving his belongings back home in Texas when I knew Rowan and I could be in Seattle for months during transplant, so I packed them up in a tub and took them with me on our road trip to Seattle.

After Rowan's first stem cell transplant, maybe a month or two in, he and I started working on the quilt for Justin's Mom.  Right there in his hospital room.  I cut the squares from his clothes.  I got permission to use my sewing machine in his room.  Rowan and I prayed over each and every square.  Rowan helped me choose where to place each square in the first 12 rows...until he became too ill to do so.  Once he was moved to PICU for those final 2 months, I had to pack it all up and move it back to my van.  But before that, Rowan and I put so much love and time into that quilt.

After Rowan passed away, we brought his body home, had his memorial service, his celebration of life, and buried him...that unfinished quilt sat in the corner of my room for weeks.  But I kept feeling Rowan telling me... "Mom, it's gonna help his mommy so much...finish it."  So during this past month, I completed the final three rows, made the back, layered the batting and backing to the quilt top, and hand quilted the entire blanket together.  It wasn't just for Keiba.  It helped me too. At this point I cried and prayed for both Justin and for Rowan, with each stitch.  And I know it made Rowan so very proud once I finally finished this blanket for Justin's Mommy.

This past Sunday, I met Keiba at the cemetery where both our boys remains are laid to rest.  Here are the photos of her seeing the quilt for the first time.  We sat for nearly an hour before I even pulled it out of the bag.  We cried.  We held hands.  We shared memories of our boys.  We talked about how we are dealing with this immense grief and loss.  We started at Rowan's gravesite...we ended up at Justin's.  I have asked her permission to share these photos.  I am not trying to boast about the quilt. Sure, I made it, well...Rowan and I did.  However, it was made nearly 100% from his clothing.  The backing and batting are all that I added.  My hope is that each piece of cloth bring back a memory for their family.  It included material from his robe, his pillow cases, his swim trunks, sweaters, jeans, t-shirts, gym shorts, boxers, hats, socks, spider man costume, etc.  It turned out so special.  Not because of me, but because of the beautiful life they gave him in his short 12 years, and because of the memories God gifted them with in that timeframe

Here are photos of when Rowan was helping me in Seattle, telling me where to place each square of Justin's clothes...I know his family will cover themselves in this blanket often and feel Justin's love, but I will also never forget the time I spent with Rowan making it and praying over it...so it fills my heart with love too.

Here are some close ups of the many different squares, each with a special memory for his family.  Thank you God for the life you gave Justin...though short...it was certainly special, memorable and filled with love.

Once I folded Justin's quilt to place it in the gift bag, I immediately noticed something special.  "Risen in Power" was one square that Keiba wanted to make sure I included from the sleeve of one of Justin's shirts.  Then, I noticed that the Lego "HOPE" square was also front and center...which I of course saw as a sign from Rowan (aka "Hope").  This photo made me feel so peaceful inside. As I mentioned, Rowan told me where to place each and every square in those first 12 rows, before he passed away...I don't take that lightly that both Justin and Rowan were represented in that first quadrant...I immediately thanked God, and Rowan, and Justin...for confirming their presence...still...

I love you Keiba, my sister in Christ...and your entire family.  Thank you for your friendship as we navigate these difficult waters.  Thank you for coming alongside me.  And thank you Jesus for 12 years with Justin and 10 years with Rowan.  Until we see them again in Heaven...