she is gone

Maybe I shouldn’t read other bereaved mom blogs. I can’t help but compare. Wonder what is wrong with me. In some ways it actually scares me..How they seem to be able to find comfort in the pain.. while I am ..

Utterly. Completely. Shattered.

She is gone. That was the sound track of me today.

DSC_0149Today her class was promoted from kinder to first grade. I went with the kids. I am glad I did. But oh boy.. did it wreck me. I  found myself remembering back to her first day. How nervous she was.. and sad I was. Ha “sad”.. what a fool I was to think I had a clue. Its like every definition of every word I knew changed February 12th. So when Jonathan goes it will be “sad” .. I hope I can let some of that go.. not feel like I always have to clarify myself … “sad”..new normal.. all those words I am almost making up in order to explain myself.. to myself.

I made her a bracelet and necklace and a matching one for myself.. I am not even in the realm of crafty so IMG_2057this was big time for me.. She loved it. I did too. Through her school career it helped her.. and me. She lost the bracelet on the playground and was so upset. The assistant principal actually found it for her…I am so glad I have it.. It is so tiny.

That first day was the rest of the kids 4th day of school (a charter school so it took time for her name to come up in the lottery).. it made it extra challenging for us. I cried all.day.long. No joke. I was beside myself. For the first month Tony called during the day, I think in part to make sure I actually took her to school. I just missed her so much. Hated being away.. not knowing every thing that was happening in her life. I went to every morning assembly and was waiting for her on the play ground at pick up. ..I couldn’t stand being apart.DSC_0141

That first day.. I picked her up solo. Something that was so unlike me. I always had all my kids. I liked it that way. Something that her death has changed. .. I am ok without them all the time. The class all walked out and when she saw me she broke down. I did too. I decided that moment it was done. We would homeschool.. I was prepared for it and this simply wasn’t for us.. I finally got her to talk to tell me what was wrong. Since she was accepted and started the next day she didn’t have the same tote bag as everybody else so I sent her with 2 bags. One that held her snack and one for her lunch. She lost one. She was hungry and sad. We walked the whole campus.. Ran into a upper grade teacher who stopped to help us.. she was so kind to me.. and to my Jennifer. It was because of her in part I was able to take a breath and allow Jennifer to try school again. This teacher is also the one who made me the tutu I wore at the 5k.

Once we found the bag.. where she had left it before her first class.. and once we talked about solutions to those kinds of problems she felt ready to keep at it. I am so proud of her perseverance. Quickly she started making friends.. Maybe all parents feel that way.. but I truly think there was something so captivating about my daughter. I just wish she had more time with them.. more time to make an impact.. more time to be remembered. To be missed…because its just not fair that she is gone.

Today was the first day back on campus.. My bereaved mommy friend whose son was also being promoted came over to help me get the kids ready. I don’t know if I would have been able to hold it together enough to get there without her.. Driving to the school I started to cry. Actually just getting the kids ready was the start of it all. Waking them up early. Feeding them breakfast right away with a time limit. .. I remembered. I complained about it. Then I feared for this day. I write notes once in awhile in my phone.. thoughts I have that I want to remember and explore. One.. right before we knew about the tumor progression.. before we knew how short her time really might be I wrote about that

” breakfast before school, rushing and what type of food. I hated it then but ache for it now. It can always be worse though. One day I will be doing it with only 3.”

I don’t think I will ever erase that… there is one more from that time.. I cannot bring myself to get rid of those notes. Because it brings me back to a time when she was alive.. sick.. but not yet dying.

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Parking I lost it. I tried so hard to rein it in.. I could see my Jonathan.. stoic and concerned for his mama. How he hates this pain ripping me apart. A little man already wanting to protect me.. save me.. fix this heart break. But he can’t, he knows thatDSC_0003 and it angers him. All while still going through his own kind of despair.

Nicholas on the other hand started talking all about Jennifer. How she is in heaven .. until we pulled in. Then he called to her.. like he saw her. I didn’t know what to think.. I still don’t. I pushed a little..

“where bubbas?” I looked for her too. A crazy piece thinking maybe I could will her there.. make this all go away.. While at the same time just yearning to see and sense her spirit since I know she is gone. I gripped the steering wheel and looked out the windshield.. looked with every ounce of me.. but came up empty. My friend came to the door..

“this sucks”

“i know”.

We walked onto campus. I wanted to run away.. I wanted to run in. This was her school. In such a short time she imprinted herself there for me.. I just wanted to wrap myself up in it and force my old life back into reality. Then I saw it. The bench. Her bench. She is gone. DSC_0087

We are so immensely grateful. I think all bereaved parents feel similarly.. our greatest fear is our child being forgotten by others. So to have her name. A place to go sit that is hers at the school that all my surviving kids will be lucky enough to attend. It means the world to all of us.. well me, Tony and Jonathan that is and I believe it will one day for Nicholas and Charlotte too. Their big sister was here. She mattered. She is remembered.

She was supposed to be there to look out for them .. she was supposed to pave the path. One little boy came up to us…and with him I could just tell it was all him, so genuine. He just misses my daughter. One of the very few who I think might really remember her in 5 years.. I tried so hard not to cry when I asked him to look out for my kids..But that is the biggest thing I can ask for from the parents and students at her school. Look out for them..

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Jennifer would have kept an eye out for her siblings.. especially Jonathan. Would have made sure he didn’t sit alone. That he didn’t lose his bag.. that kids didn’t pick on him. ..

He wasn’t made for this.. he wasn’t made to be the oldest.. to lead the way.. I was supposed to already know the things you learn with your first when it was his turn. .

Please..

DSC_0036I doubt most will remember her..us.. most will have moved on.. But we never ever will. See that’s the thing. He will start school in a year .. it will have been 1.5 yrs since she died then.. It will still be so present in our lives.. but seem like maybe it shoudn’t be.. so please, please try to remember her. And them. I hope the bench helps with that…. she is never completely forgotten. Its just not fair she didn’t have time to make the impact I know she could have. We aren’t even 8 months from diagnosis… but still here I am. And she is gone.

I had the kids take pictures on the bench afterwards. Her picture on it was so striking and so beautiful. Jonathan asked where the bench would be on campus. He gets it.. I hate that.. Charlotte couldn’t get enough of her sisters picture. She refused to look forward for the camera.. she just wanted the picture. Even at home tonight she was the same way.DSC_0081

She said “sissy”. Her first and only word still.

Looking around campus I was struck by the people I was just beginning to make relationships with. People that I believe would have become friends. I appreciate the friendships I have made.. the ones that have grown since she got sick and died. I try to leverage that against my pain sometimes.. telling myself I wouldn’t have these relationships without her death. But today I looked and realized I just would have had different ones.. I would have still had my old friends too.. the ones that this is all too much for..

And I wanted that life back. A student such a short time.. I didn’t “feel” here there.. but I want to make up a excuse to go back.. just be there again.. Did not expect that.

Would give anythign to be waking up tomorrow.. trying to figure out food to shove down 4 hungry throats.. Instead we will likely sleep in. I am so exhausted I will try to get them to snuggle me in bed and watch some shows.. I did expect that.

Nicholas had clothes on..which shows how chilly it was outside! Jonathan doesn’t like being cold but he had chosen his we love our sissy shirt and wanted everybody to see it.. so he took off his jacket. He was very unemotional at school.. his feelings manifested in copious amounts of energy and wanting to play very roughly with his brother. At home it came out .. both in tears and anger so strong he had no idea what to do with it. We made up running diving punches on the couch.. gives him a full body release. And throwing a baseball.. hers from t-ball against the sound wall as hard as he could.

As the kids left the stage they played her song “brave” And I cried. In public with people that knew me. It started to come really hard. But my body rejected it.. resumed silent tears though. Not sure if its progress or implosion.

We came home. And I did what I do. We baked. And then I felt guilty. It wasn’t a gluten free muffin. I used a box mix. I just DSC_0106grabbed it out. No idea where it even came from. Her day. Baked after school treat she couldn’t have eaten. She is gone.

Boys took some time in their room for me. I felt it building.. a wave so strong I had to try to keep them out of the way of it. I hadn’t really stopped crying since we left campus…but I knew something fierce was on the verge.

I exploded in desperation and sorrow. I wailed.. I moaned..A cry so hard my throat hurts now.. I can’t remember exactly what words escaped me in between the sobs.. but I begged for her to come back. And I prayed for help. I pleaded for forgiveness. I was on my knees. no strength to stand. I looked through the book of her kinder year.. only a few pages long and I told her how proud I was. I saw they gave her a certificate of completion.

This is how I imagine today could have looked.. should have looked. Bright shining eyes peeking out over her certificate.

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Boys came out and I was spent. Felt like I had been in a fight and ran a marathon. We ended up in the back yard. Just a few days ago I was talking about how hard to was that they didn’t know how to play well together. So its been in the forefront of my mind with discipline,encouragement and activities. Yesterday and today they have played together. I distinctly remember yesterday morning stopping in my tracks doing the morning dishes. I listened.

“ok you stand here…I will throw this too you.. now you throw it here…”

I was alone in the kitchen..listening to sounds I had forgotten about. That I hadn’t heard since the last week of January. My kids playing together. Time for me to do the dishes.

Fighting was hard.. surprisingly getting along is too…They are remaking our day to day. Today Jonathan pushed Nicholas on the swings. Not because I asked him to..I hope its because she taught him to.. She is gone. We are not.. so things are changing. .

DSC_0141Outside butterflies kept showing up. All different kinds flittering past us. Jonathan so desperate for one to land on him. Freezing in place…finger extending. Quietly I hear him exhale

“I love you sissy.”

She knows buddy. . I couldn’t say nothing in that moment..looking back maybe I should have… it wasn’t my conversation.

I missed Tony so much today. All I wanted was my husband. I wanted to get in the car and just have him drive. The way he did early on. He didn’t call to say he was coming home.. he just walked in the door. I dissolved in his arms. Finally. I was safe and secure in a way nobody else can make me. I love this man.

He threw together dinner for us. I couldn’t. I was spent. . Then we went outside with our pink balloons from her, should have been kinder promotion, and wrote messages to her. We stood together by her stone in our yard and let them go. My boys screamed   WE LOVE YOU JENNIFER. WE MISS YOU SISSY. And we watched our messages until we couldn’t see them anymore.

Charlotte let hers go late.. but it caught up. No matter what this family sticks together..a great visual of that for my boys. They asked my to write sissy on their arms too. Wonder how long a sharpie lasts?

A friend took a picture at her school today (their school I need to stop calling it her school) and all I noticed was my feet.10441473_10152168423101344_8360927332653159407_n They are so cracked they hurt. Really need a pedicure. But I cant. I have just the tiniest remains from our last pedicure together.. I went from never doing one with her since I assumed ..we had the rest of our lives to do it.. once I knew how short one of our lives would be I squeezed in as many as I could. . I still have just the tiniest bit left from the last time getting one together. Matching pink sparkly..

This is how surviving grief manifests for me.. little things to hold onto and control.

because quite simply…

she is

gone.

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49 Responses to “she is gone”

  1. So proud of you, Libby. Even though it hurts so bad, you leave the house, and you LIVE – even when you know that living will be incredibly painful.

    Love.

  2. I am so moved by your words and the images and emotions they evoke in me. I’m quietly crying for you and your beautiful family and your increbile loss. Your thought and feelings are so poignant, sp?, you have all of our attention, our prayers for you and your family and thank you for letting us in. It’s a priveledge, again sp?. Looks like no spell check andI need it. Around the world, people are holding you up in prayer. :))

  3. I am so so sorry. Just reading this was hard. Love that bench though. How great for your kids to have this tiny connection with her when there.

  4. Gone but never forgotten- ever. I’ve never met the Kranz family but have not prayed for an entire family in a long time. I’ve bee. On the journey with you guys about 2 months before she passed. This blog ( and you Libby) I check with everyday- first think. We send you so much love. We had my best friends Lil girls party and there were balloons- my son accidentally let his go (he’s only 21 months) and he watched it until it was out of site. As soon as he got upset he let go of it- I said “it’s ok! That’s going to puff (my bunny), great grandma, great grandpas and our friends in heaven- especially Jennifer”. He didn’t get it, but he did stop crying and just watched the balloon float high in the sky… She’s there. She got the balloon 🙂

  5. Lots of wishing….
    wishing I could make you feel better
    wishing I could give all 6 of you a hug
    wishing your only worry was getting breakfast made before school
    wishing…

    sending all my love and support!

  6. Libby as long as you hold on to those precious memories Jennifer will always be in your heart, I keep her close to my heart and love listening to you and your memories and photos of her. She will never be forgotten I will always keep Her close. I hope one day I can have the honor to meet you and hug you to thank you for sharing the life of your precious beautiful Angel with me, Jennifer is a big part of all our lives and always will be. Big hugs and Angel kisses

  7. Tears. So many tears. My heart aches for all 6 of you. The bench is amazing. JLK will never be forgotten. Sending lots of love and hugs.
    XO

  8. My first thought when I seen everyone getting together for the kindergarten ceremony yesterday was “Jennifer.” I’m certain she was there. I know she was. Most definitely in the hearts and thoughts of everyone there, as well as in spirit. Our kids will start kinder together next year- I’ll make sure my little spitfire daughter knows to keep a lookout for a little blondey (just like her big brother, Jack,) boy named Jonathan. <3 <3 <3

  9. Oh Libby… Your words really touch me each time. My heart just breaks for you… For your sweet JLK. This was such a hard and emotional day for you. I wish there was something I can do for you. Just know that I think of you daily. I’m always wearing my JLK Braclet and have my JLK shirt on when I go anywhere on the weekends. Hoping to spread the glitter everywhere. xoxox

  10. I don’t know you but I am proud of you, that you keep doing these things that will rebuild your day-to-day, that you are persevering. Prayers for all of you!

  11. Though I never met her, I will never, EVER forget Jennifer or her family. You all have a permanent place in my heart and in my head. I will be following along from afar for as long as you feel like sharing your journey.

  12. “I truly think there was something so captivating about my daughter.” That is not just maternal pride: there was something incredible about Jennifer’s energy, her formidable light, her joy. It is apparent in every photograph. How could she ever be forgotten? It is simply not possible.

  13. you are so brave. Even if you don’t see it, you are an amazing mom and trying so hard to do what’s right for your kids, while you are all grieving. That. is. amazing.

  14. Absolutely heartbreaking and devastating and so very very unfair. I wish the bench did not exist and your sweet angel was on the stage. Prayers for angel hugs.

  15. Jennifer will never be forgotten!! Her time at GPS was short however, she was everyone’s friend and made such an impact. I have to tell you that the girls in my daughters class argue over who knew her better or longer and who helped her or even who’s parents are friends with Jennifer’s parents! They are discussing helping and befriending Jennifer’s siblings when they attend and Let’s not forget Charlotte a lot of 4th graders were fighting over little Charlotte! !! Just thought you’d like to know that I’m positive they will have lots of friends looking out

  16. Oh God Libby….I am sobbing. I’m sorry….I know its a pain that just wracks every part of you.
    I miss my baby too….again my story is different. The only way I knew my baby was when he was still in my womb….but I hurt…I get it.

    Empty….alone. And no one knows how it feels to be me. Just like you…no one has the same intimate loss. All I can say is I send love….and I grieve with you.

  17. Dear Libby,
    My heart goes out to you. I am dealing with a
    Similiar pain and loss, of a young lady that i had the
    Pleasure of raising (not a natural born child) and
    Cultivated into a remarkable young woman,
    And best friend, in February she was killed instantly
    By a drunk driver who failed to yeild at a stop
    Sign. Everything in my life has her attached to it
    From the clothes we both wore,to native jewelry we made
    Together, everybreath i take, places i go, i catch
    Myself searching for her.
    My heart still aches daily. I will never forget, the pain
    Of going on is what i cant seem to grasp. I pray
    Daily that there is good and a lesson, i will wait everyday
    Until i can see her face again.
    All my best to you and your family!
    Marie

  18. I know it was hard for you, but so glad you guys came. All the younger kids there were drawn to yours and wanted to play with them. It was very bittersweet, and I doubt most of her class will ever forget her. **hugs**

  19. Libby, you should be so proud at the way you are able to articulate your pain. How you have made Jennifer come alive for ALL of us! I feel as though she IS still alive, that’s how you have described her!

    I cannot fathom your hurt or anguish.. the firsts of everything are so raw when someone we love is no longer around. Like I have said before – she’s in heaven and free and dancing and probably throwing sparkles around. Let that bring a smile to your face.

    xox

  20. In January I began following you. I prayed for you and Jennifer and have cried harder for you then anyone I have known in person. I am a mom of a six year old daughter and felt like you were carrying the “load” for all of us with little girls this age. You were dealt this awful card that could have been any of us. Through your grieving I continue to walk with you from afar and will continue to pray for what no one but God can give you!

  21. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I have quietly followed and prayed for awhile. I wish with all my heart there was some phrase or something that would take this pain from you but I would be kidding myself, there is nothing.

    So I will cry as I read of your pain, rejoice in your victories as they come, and pray a lot. JLK, will never be forgotten, she stole the hearts of so many, and we too keep her memory alive within our own hearts.

  22. Libby, your words are so very powerful. I hate this pain you have, I wish I could do more say more.
    I pray and send my love to you. Stay strong, Stay positive.
    xoxoxoxooxoxoxooxoxoxoox

  23. I will never forget Jennifer. She has become such a big part of my heart and always will be and so will you (Libby), Tony, Jonathan, Nicholas and baby Charlotte. You have become a huge part of my heart. I Will ALWAYS Remember all 6 of you. The bench is a beautiful dedication to Jennifer. We love you Libby ♡♡♡♡♡♡

  24. So many tears today. I promise you, Libby, that although I live on the other side of the country and have never met you or Jennifer she will never be forgotten, ever. She will be forever in my heart. Always. I am so sorry.

  25. The part of this that made me tear up was the paragraph
    about Tony. You have no idea what a blessing it is that you
    feel the way you do about him. Your love for each other is the best thing any two parents can do for their children. Regardless of everything else,
    the fact that you are a unit, you work together, help each other, rely on each other, and love each other will take your children to so many good places in life. Nothing can dessimate children when they have parents who love one another. Children can get through anything when they have that kind of security. This is something I have observed and learned about life. It is a piece of knowledge that not all parents are aware of. Some people think the most important thing is to be with your kids all the time. Or not to say “no” to their children. Or to give them their hearts’ desires. Nope. The backbone children develop with two united and loving parents is THE best gift you can give.

  26. I’m just devastated for you and your beautiful family. Please put your weary mind and heart at ease. Although your sweet, beautiful Jennifer lived only 6 short years, her life had meaning, value and significance…even for those of us who never really knew her or your family. We are forever changed for the better because of her. She will always be remembered and you have honored her well.

    She will always be remembered. <3

  27. i know heather and have followed you along the way from her sharing of posts and i wanted to let you know…

    when i was in first grade, 25 years ago, i had a classmate who was sick with a congenital heart defect. he passed away during our first grade year. i remember everything about him. his name (first and last), his face, his smile, his mom, his pride in showing us some tubes after a surgery, playing with him on the tire swing… so many things. like it was yesterday. and i think of him often.

    we weren’t good friends – i never saw him out of school, he didn’t live in my neighborhood. but i remember him. some people, we just remember. even when we are 6. they just make an impression. don’t be worried. jennifer has that same gift. everyone will remember her.

    sending thoughts your way.

  28. My heart hurts for you. I’m proud of you for going but cry for the fact that Jennifer’s life was cut so short and she didn’t get to graduate. I’m so sorry and continue to send you love and prayers.

    Vanessa

  29. Hi Libby-
    Ugh, ugh, ugh. Your post brings it all back to me how incredibly painful it is to lose someone. Specifically Baby P, and my sister and my brother in law. Those tears that just wouldn’t ever stop coming and still do sometimes. How totally gutted you can feel and no one can take it away, but it helped to know people cared. I care for you. Im so so sorry. Ironically, my baby was signed up for kindergarten today, by parents who weren’t us. I found myself thinking about buying her school clothes and helping in her class–things I won’t get to do, likely. My pain can’t even compare to yours ever. Be kind to yourself. Don’t get a new pedicure. I never fully cleaned out her closet and I don’t think I ever will. Tough shit if people think that’s unhealthy. I just think its survival when I look at the beautiful pink dresses she wore for her welcome party, her first Easter, her first birthday. Its nice that Jennifer was at the school to greet you, even if you couldn’t see her. I truly believe that. Love to you–Corrie

  30. What a beautiful piece. I came across your blog in January and started to read it because my own son (now 3) was recovering from retinoblastoma, a type of pediatric cancer. I haven’t stopped reading, both because I support your efforts to fund research and because I don’t want to ever forget your darling Jennifer. Though I don’t know your family, I just wanted to take a quick moment and say how truly precious all of your children are. Jonathan looks exactly like you and Nicholas just cracks me up – almost always shirtless in every photo! Charlotte is hilarious. I also have a one year old and I just want to squeeze her little cheeks. What gorgeous, special little ones you have. Their Jennifer was obviously a wonderful example of how to truly love.

  31. As a retired Kindergarten teacher this post was so touching for me. I would have loved to have had your Jennifer in my class. Each year my tears would freely flow on the last day of school, but I never before felt the deep emotion I felt reading this post. You truly touched my heart, You were so wonderful to be there for the last day of school! You are an amazing Mom!

  32. Oh Libby, as the mom of a six year old girl in Kindergarten my heart is totally broken for you. This hurts, a lot . All six of you occupy a place in my heart, never to be forgotten.

  33. I am captivated by Jennifer and you, and so is my 3yr old daughter, Emma. She continues to ask to watch Jennifer’s glitter video. Libby, I pray with you – the exact same things you pray for. If this time on Earth is just a blip compared to eternity, then heaven can wait; God, send her back to her mommy.

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