Vacation time…

. . . something I should be so happy about and grateful for.. There are certainly parts of it I am. The people that have opened up their vacation home to us…I am grateful for generous people.. That I have 3 living and healthy (I hope…I think) children.. immensely grateful.. but also full of longing for the 1 that’s missing.. the one that will always be missing..

DSC_0149I write it.. but I still don’t believe it.

Downloading the hundreds of pictures from this trip I noticed all the ways we carried her with us. .. . like this one with  baby Charlotte snuggled under Jennifer’s blanket.. and I think.. I cannot wait to show her.. Then I just take a deep DSC_0585breath..close my eyes and wait. Reality hits..

..hits so hard I nearly fall out of my seat.

Reality sucks.

The night before we left for the beach was the lunar eclipse. No surprise I was up late enough to see it and I thought about waking Jonathan up to come see it. Then thought to myself no.. next time there is a cool moon I will …

I crumbled under the weight of that simple normal thought.

Parenting surviving siblings is hard..  . hard in such different ways than I had tried to prepare myself for.  It’s not ok to parent them like they are dying.. but its so hard not to. I realized since I hadn’t prepped him for it if I woke him he would have no idea what the big deal was.. . I hope it was the right choice.

I did take a picture to show him..

IMG_4351I love pictures.. I love the way they can bring back a moment and memory. Especially the ones I had totally forgotten. My friend sent me a picture of Jennifer holding a parrot in Monterey. I totally forgot abut that entire day.. How impressed strangers were that she was fearless to hold this seemingly giant animal.. How much she liked getting to look at the guy in the tank.. little moment.. little memories.. Lost in my mind.

But pictures .. they bring those moments back. They bring her back.

Charlotte wears these clothes now.. What different  yet strikingly similar little girls we …wow… I first typed “are raising”. …

I realized on this trip how much I still want her in our pictures. I have to find a way to keep her in them .. I took a few of my 4 living loves with the sun in the background .. and for this trip that was it.DSC_0807

She was the sun.. the brightness and warmth and I hope hanging out over our heads..

I really like these pictures.. but on the other hand I hate them.. it’s a trip I never wanted to take.. This should have been just another school/work night. I shouldn’t be finding things to represent my 6yr old..

.. . simply.

she should still be here.

This is not supposed to be vacation time..We are only here because of her.. a gift given to us because of her.. its hard to accept in some ways.. because we never wanted her to be sick.. and I can’t even find the words to explain accurately how ..with such a intensity ..I don’t want her to be gone..

at least she was here once with us..

That trip…she loved it. She was so free and strong…beautiful.. The way she ran right into the ocean. In November. And never wanted to come back out.

It was such a good time. We promised her we would come back. .. Even promised her we would finish the Yogi Bear movie they were watching when we made them get in the car to come home. We were that sure.. THAT SURE that we would come back again.. that we had time and that I could make a promise to her.. to them… that I didn’t keep.

Sorry babes.

Made plans to do it twice.. Never got back here though.. the last time we were supposed to come…we took her home .  . for the last time. .. to begin her painful decline and death.

DSC_0147As much as I remember her here .. and as hard as that is.. It would have been even harder if we were at a place like this.. a place she would have loved.. if we hadn’t taken her here. I  miss her.. terribly.. but she was here with us once.. and that helps me.. a lot.

I wonder if that’s why Jonathan has been asking to come back here.. to the bunk bed beach house. I went for a run on the beach this morning.. I wrote her name in the sand…

When I got home they were watching Yogi Bear… Jonathan picked it out.. this time we let them finish before we headed out to play on the beach.

Thanks Jennifer and Jonathan for the do-over. I needed that.

The second night he woke up … and we laid in his bed and talked and snuggled. .. He didnt want me to leave so I stayed.. for a long time.. and as I was drifting off to sleep with him he grabbed me and said..

“I just want her back!”

I  held him and tried to absorb his pain.. his heartache.. his loneliness.. all these emotions I know all too well now.. Maybe I did because a few minutes later he said it was time for me to go back to my room.

We played football and built sandcastles.. So different than out last trip.. I think especially for Tony who was the one with DSC_0133her in the ocean. .. Eventually he got Nicholas to go in a little.. but not the same as our fearless mermaid.

I ran both mornings.. and today as I ran I looked at my footprints and recalled the well known footprints prayer.. about how in the worst of times God carries us through our pain… I believe that… I do. But oh how I wish he would run a little..

dude is walking slow.

I just want to be at the end of my beach… of my time forced without her.

I remember watching her…playing in the power of the ocean.. hoping it could give her some of its strength ..

This time I looked at the water and thought about how I have read that souls in heaven are like drops in the ocean. My baby girl.. one of a place I cannot even begin to imagine.  I knew everything about her life… about every experience she had.. .

Now I cant even being to fathom what is happening for her .. I know its good and warm…and pain free. But I just want to know. I want to connect with my daughter.. She is only 6

Forever 6..

I should still be taking care of her.. I should still know whats happening in her…


…even death .. I would even be “happy” to know whats happening in her death.. if it meant I could just know her again. It’s so unnerving to not be in touch …to not know whats going on with my daughter who should just be wrapping up her kindergarten year. I should know..

but I don’t. I think this is part of the reason I feel so unsettled every day.. because its not natural and my heart and mind are struggling with understanding something I am not meant to understand..

.. .death of my child.



Tony took baby Charlotte in for her first time in the ocean. A private moment between father and remaining daughter.


So much has changed. much of the simple day to day I realized on this trip. The way we play and the things we chose to do as a family.

.. changed in ways I never thought we would. I knew when she died our eating habits would change.. I even thought about how our tv shows would change.. Our vacations are different and our moments are too.. in ways I didn’t even realize. .

. .  we danced.


Dance parties used to be a daily occurrence in the Kranz house. We haven’t had one since her services.

I danced with them and I thought of her.. I remembered the simple pleasures of being her mother.. I sat and watched them.. with her picture in the background and imagined her with us.. dancing.. twirling.. happy.. Jennifer..


Dancing around now our new life.. the way boys do.. strong movements that seem to always end in wrestling on the ground…DSC_0772




I miss you Jennifer. I wish more than anything to get a vacation with you again…

my 6 yr old.. who I am so far apart from.. .

even just a one day vacation

to heaven

to know whats it like for you now..DSC_0113


….are you still wearing a headband in the ocean?




45 Responses to “vacation”

    1. Libby, Are you in Rio Del Mar? I am by myself just trying to reflect on the death of my son, Sam Callahan. MY friends also offered their house knowing that I needed some space. I am at 278 Beach Drive…If you are here come find me. I have auburn hair and would love to meet you. I understand all too well, the pain you are going through. God bless our babies. With much respect. Suzy

  1. I often think, if I had a superhero power, it would “one more day” powers. Just one more day to say goodbye, to ask what happened, to get closure. But I don’t. So I have to rely on my faith.
    Tonight my 3 year old was looking over my shoulder as I read your blog. When I scrolled past the first picture of Jennifer she said ” mom go back to the pretty girl in the water”, so of course I did. I told her that the pretty girl is in heaven. Just like Uncle Johnnie. It’s so much reality for 11:30 at night for a 3 year old. But she understand, and she knows better than is our what heaven means.
    Thinking of you and your pretty girl in the water…. Always

  2. The ocean is such a wonderful memory making place. I wish she was here more than anything. Day to day living is so tough sometimes. Hugs to you Kranzs. The car in front of me on the freeway had a #love4jlk magnet. I wanted to pass them to show them mine Part of the squad ! But settled for just knowing they were there. Keep making memories. Jennifer is tucked into your memories always. A ray of sun or snowflake or rainbow or dragonfly !

  3. I am so achingly sorry. Like so many others, I wish I could shoulder some of this anguish for you…
    I pray that one day soon God will grant you the sweetest dreams of your beautiful angel to give you a taste of what her life is now like with our Lord.
    Love and prayers for all 6 of you. ❤

  4. Libby you are amazing….simply…. until now I have never thought about the feeling of not knowing what JLK is doing. When I think of my 5 year old daughter. …well, my heart aches more and more for you Libby. My eyes a tear filled…I am so sorry. So so sorry!

  5. It is interesting how you just pointed out the feeling in my chest : I feel so unsettled about Jeniffer not being here. I feel restless as if there is something I need to fix before I go crazy with grief over a little girl I never met. I did not know her or you Libby. But like many strangers I feel a connection to youand to your Jeniffer . Perhaps it’s because of my infertility and miscarriages but I think is more because I have a little girl exactly the same age, exactly 28 days apart.or maybe is because your Jennifer was a truly special person. Your pain hurts my heart so much because I sure know I could not live with out my child. Please know that I pray like I have never prayed before for the entire Kranz family. I think of Jennifer every day , and be sure that if I was your neighbor I would never tire of hearing you say her name. Hoping that soon you will be making memories with the younger babies and that those memories bring a smile to your face . I love the pictures, thank you for posting them.

  6. I’m so sorry. For all of your stolen moments, and all of the unanswered questions that you’re left not knowing when you’ll get the answers to, (though I believe, with every fiber of my being, you will. Without a doubt).

    Your writing hits me at the absolute core of my heart, every single time, and all I want to do is just keep shaking the world until everything that is right and good settles back into place, where it belongs.
    <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

  7. I’ve been reading your blog from the start, this is the first time I’ve replied. I hate that you’ve had to go through all the this. Reading your raw emotions every night makes me hug my son tighter. I feel like I’m suffocating when I’m reading your words because it’s just so unfathomable to take it all in. 2 girls from my area in scotland have died from dipg in the last 4 years, horrible disease, but you know that. How you cope is beyond me. Trying to find some words…….but there are none. Xx

  8. First of all, I want to thank you for posting the service video. Such a selfless thing to do. I could see on your face and the way your hand patted her casket and reached for Tony’s hand that you just wanted to grab her and run the hell out of there. I was so relieved to see Jennifer gave you the strength to speak and read and dance the way you did! It all was so breathtaking, such a beautiful tribute to Jennifer! You are truly an amazing woman and you and Jennifer will do so many things to help those unfortunate families that deal with pediatric cancer!
    I was so happy to see you all went to the beach. I know it was hard but I know Jennifer was there with you!

  9. Jonathan is wise beyond his years in so many ways… Sounds like especially emotionally. My heart aches for him. But I know you guys can get through this- its just so difficult with someone as magical as Jennifer. I’ve never met her or you and yet you guys are on my mind at least once a day and I pray for you. Sounds like it was a great trip though all in all. Much love to you guys

  10. Libby it’s good to get away but then again I know how hard it is to go to a place your family of 6 has been before. Just remember Jennifer is already with you as long as you keep her in your memories, she’s the sunlight a twinkle in your eye, your little guardian Angel and boy what a beautiful sweet lil Angel she is. Jennifer is in your heart

  11. Please don’t worry or feel unsettled about what your daughter is doing. She is doing great things and she is with God. She’s way better than any of us here on earth. Although we will never know what our loved ones are doing in heaven or what heaven is like, maybe reading a little bit about heaven will help you know. Revelations 21:21 is a good start. I’m praying for you and praying for your family and that God will comfort you everyday.

  12. “But I hold on to this hope, and the promise that He brings.There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, no more fears.There will be a day when the burdens of this place be no more, we will see Jesus face to face” a beautiful song by Jeremy Camp. Tears stream down my fave, and though I don’t know you but I can for a moment feel your pain. I lay here in bed while my two girls sleep sound in their rooms. I am reminded of how fragile this life is. She feels your love she sees your pain. God promises that there is no suffering in Heaven, I believe she is more happy than ever. This life here on earth can be so amazing, but doesn’t hold a candle to what God has for us when we reach Him. Let Jesus take your pain and hurt, He makes all things new. He can change your spirit to one of hope and your testimony can change others lives. I pray that you and your beautiful family will look up in the heavens and know she is safe and purely content, watching and waiting to be reunited. Have a wonderful Easter.. Remember Gods promises and live not in fear, our JOY is in Him.He loves you dearly, don’t think He doesn’t hear you and wants to comfort you.

  13. I wish I could give you a day pass to heaven libby. Oh my goodness do I wish it. But since I can’t I pray to the one who is holding your baby for you that He may let you feel again somehow, maybe in a dream or something. Will also ask Him to pick up the pace when planting those footprints too. Xx

  14. Happy that you all were able to get away, but sad for the part that is and always will be missing. You continue to amaze me with your courage and strength. I know Jesus is with your baby girl. I also know that while that brings some comfort, it isn’t enough. I just pray daily that He holds you all up. I am glad to see she is with you all in the ways you expressed. Not the way any of us would like for you, but still there.

    Never stop talking about her. We always want to hear (read) and see the videos and pictures, even if it is the same over and over. You have inspired so many. Jennifer is in the hearts of so many.

    Prayers and love and light.

  15. Please keep the memories of Jennifer coming, as well as the new memories you are making. You are such a great mother and wife.

    As always, thank you for sharing.

    Sending constant love and well wishes.

  16. Jennifer is here. She is all around us. I think about her, you in a constant daily basis. She will never be fogotten. She will be in our hearts and on our minds forever. You are an amazing women. My love to all 6 of you. ♡

  17. I love this…
    She was the sun.. the brightness and warmth and I hope hanging out over our heads..

    I am sure she danced right along with you.
    I am sure she is wearing a glittery headband.
    I am sure she sees Charlotte snuggling with her blanket.
    I am sure she is proud of the work you are doing to help find a cure.

    As always, sending hugs and support!

  18. Libby, you are an AMAZING and strong mother. I lost my best friend, my wonderful mother, last September. I feel such an intense pain, still, that it is hard to even breathe. At the same time, I think of how hard it would be to lose my daughter and how much ‘worse’ it would be. I can’t even thinkof how intense and overpowering your grief must be. I ache because for the first time in my 30 years, I have to learn to survive without her. I worry that my grief is making me a horrible mother to my 4 year old daughter…I can only hope she believes the facade of happiness and smiles that I have created for her benefit. I hope that my mother, who was the most loving mother I could have ever asked for, is keeping a loving hand on Jennifer in Heaven, until you can meet her there one day. I know my mother must miss her granddaughter, who is still on Earth…Jennifer reminds me so much of my own little girl, Courtney…I don’t know if my reply is making sense…just know that Jennifer is so perfectly happy in Heaven. That is the thought that relieves my pain the most, knowing that my mom is happy in Heaven.

  19. God IS carrying you through this! I think about the 23rd Psalm when I read your blogs, especially verse 4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Allow yourself to rest in God’s comfort. Hugs to you.

  20. She was the sun.. the brightness and warmth and I hope hanging out over our heads.. It is a lovely concept and I believe this, I believe her light shines and will light your path always.

  21. I saw you as I was leaving the beach Weds morning. My son was in the backseat losing it and I thanked God that I’m able to be annoyed and not take it for granted anymore. You have me that gift, and I want you to know how much you and your stories touch my heart. I pray for your family daily, your babies are so blessed to have you!!!!!

  22. I hope someday, Libby, you know how powerful and beautiful your words are…. They push me both spiritually and as a mom and wife

    I know that this cant possibly bring you comfort now in your pain… But maybe someday you can know that you and Jennifer have changed so many mamas in the world.

    God bless you all.

  23. Thank you for sharing so much of your life with us. It makes the words ‘childhood cancer’ and ‘DIPG’ much more real for our country.

    I am so sorry you had to experience everyone who loves a child’s worst nightmare. It’s not fair and it’s not right. I will be praying for peace for your family and that a cure can be found for DIPG… as well as for families with little ones who are also experiencing the effects of DIPG.

    I am sure Jennifer is wearing her favorite twirly princess dress and glitter headband in Heaven… as she dances to “Brave” and “Let It Go”.

  24. I love what Kat said about her “always lighting your path.” I too, believe she was the beautiful sun shining down on you all, spreading warmth and comfort to her family. Sending hugs and keeping you in my prayers. <3

  25. This made me think oh a song. A song that got a good friend thru the loss of her child and and this post made me sing it in my head. Pink – beam me up. I think you’ll like it.

  26. I want her back for you too. But I bet she is dancing with Jesus in heaven, and will dance with you again when you go home to heaven.

  27. Libby, one of the things that helped me when I lost my best friend was to write letters to her. I would tell her about my day, and my memories of our times together, and how I was feeling. It really helped to imagine her reading them.

    I hope that Jennifer will start coming to visit you in your dreams, to show you her new life, or even just to bring back happy memories.

  28. You are so real so open, that is what I love about your post! If I were ever in your shoes I believe I would have the same thoughts and feelings as you do, and it is nice that someone can speak the truth. I am so sorry and my prayers are that you will meet her in your dreams. HUGS for TN

  29. Libby,
    I don’t know you, but I love you so much and want to take your pain away if only for a moment.. You’ll never know how much you have become a part of my life.. Your words have scarred my heart.. I will never forget you and sweet Jennifer.. She was a special girl.. I can feel her warm energy through her pictures.. She was beautful!! This may mean nothing to you now, but you have changed my life… I want to hug you and tell you that everything will be ok.. One day..
    my kids are my life..
    ..and now, NOW! I cherish every moment every day because of you… I took for granted how precious and fragile life can be.. Never again.. I don’t want to lose a moment.. Or regret not spending the moments I have/ had with them… Your always in my heart..

  30. I think there are beautiful oceans in heaven of endless, warm water…in a color that does not exist here on earth, perhaps a sparkling shade of blue or silver. I can imagine JLK there, splashing and playing, and I believe the Lord is there with her, watching on, taking care of her to make sure she is safe till you get there, to join her. I truly believe Jennifer feels so relieved, to be healthy again…no headaches, no nausea, no blurred vision, no pain…her heavenly body is perfect, her soul dances, plays, fearlessly. She has the comfort of being with her most ultimate healer and protector…God loves her as much as you, she is safe mommy! I know you have that uneasiness of a mother wondering…does she need me? Is she scared?

    There is no fear or danger in heaven, in the arms of our Lord…Jennifer is being six in heaven, and loving you so much.

    That is what I believe…with all my heart.

  31. Beautiful and very painful 🙁 Love love love and lots of hugs. You’ve heard it a million times already but one more time, you are incredibly strong, every time you feel a tightness, that is your precious baby girl, Jennifer give you the hardest hug ever with all her divine power.

    Just reading your blogs, I hope i can get some strength to swim through life


  32. Libby, this made so much sense to me that I could feel my chest getting right and a cry about to come out. As a mom I am with you… knew everything about her life…….and to not know is just so wrong and unnatural. Your thoughts run so deep…..and you will find her because of it. I don’t know how to describe what I notice about your words & thoughts.

    I admire that you still believe God is carrying you….maybe he’s going slow on purpose. Maybe Jennifer is walking with you too & making him stop for so many things. You are gifted to see so much.

    You are a lovely human being…so many dimensions…all strong and good.

    I read your story & try to figure it all out too, so forgive the
    so glad you blog. I believe you will move mountains without necessarily trying. You just will.

  33. Libby, when I saw the beautiful picture of your family at the beach I couldn’t stop starring at the single beam of sunlight crossing over your oldest son and husband. In my heart I felt it was Jennifer :). I know you write about seeing signs of her often. I wasn’t going to comment when I first read this blog post, but a few days have past and I keep thinking about it. I pray that all of your hearts continue to heal and that you have much peace.

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