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muscle memory

December 18, 2014

We saw Santa. It was anti climatic. Which was a good thing actually since so much.. so much has been so big lately. Only Jonathan even sat on his lap. It was easier .. not so vividly missing her since the photographs I took were missing most of my kids. But a friend and I talked. How we both knew.. if she was there they all would have followed her. They always did for things like that. Sissy made them feel safe. mm4

Tony and I had counseling last night. Mostly it centered around raising kids through this loss. Trying to sort out what is best for them. My family is crazy. We take all things competition very seriously. Even Baggo, (I googled it for you). A few years ago a tournament was started. Round Robin. Team names. Costumes. We do it at one of the high schools one my brother works at. There is even a snack shack.

Its the same place we had Jennifer’s services.

I think I had been avoiding thinking about the whole thing. Because it makes my stomach hurt. I remember last year. Baggo tournament was one of those things we did and I watched her.. in her blue long sleeve shirt and I tried so hard to memorize all of it with her.

Her round face.. swollen from the steroids. How worried we were to be bringing her around so many people. .. I tried to force it all into memory. I think I actually did ok with that.

Because I knew.. on some level I knew..

But I didn’t want to be right. I wanted her to be here. I wanted her to be one of those kids with a good long honeymoon period. I wanted my baby to be the exception.. damn. I guess she was.. just not the direction I wanted it to be. Less time then average was not my hope.

this was afterwards. wrestling with her cousins. I think it made all the adults sick.. but she loved it.. needed it..

this was afterwards. wrestling with her cousins. I think it made all the adults sick to watch.. but she loved it.. needed it..

And then I remember 10 months ago there again. The round tables. The endless amount of food. I remember my friend in charge of bringing me water. The ceiling and the floors.


I remember saying goodbye to Jennifer’s doctors.. right next a massive fish tank. My boys running all around. I know some kids got their faces painted, I can’t remember if my boys did.. but they did like the hair style table. It was a great party.



So much of it though I lost. My memory of that day is partly moments. Snapshots in time. I still haven’t even looked at the pictures of that day. (until now.. just a few)

But overall my memory of that day is a feeling. The way I felt.. the room felt.. the drive felt.

And I wonder now can I brace myself. .. at this most horrible time of year to be slammed with those feelings again… minus the numb. To remember having to say goodbye now understanding more what the finality of that means. I miss that numbness. I miss it so much. So I question.. can I handle it?

Can Tony?


Will my boys?

That day I think.. I hope .. somehow was positive for them. I think we made it a good party for them. But I am constantly surprised by what goes on in their little heads. The things that upset them.. the things that don’t.

There are a few notable things about this place. The drive to it. The giant fish tank. The separation of the rooms. Will they have an emotional “muscle memory” of sorts?

So we talked about it at our counseling. Are Tony and I ready? Is it ok for the boys? We came to a 2 step conclusion. First we will talk to Jonathan’s counselor about it. Have her help us decide what is best for him. Our counselor  believed that yes they will likely have some recollection of it, so that leads us to number two.

If his “talk doctor” thinks it will be good for him to go we will talk about it ahead of time. Not let them be surprised by feelings that might arise.

But we will steer the ship.

We will talk about how much we all miss Jennifer. How we wish she didn’t go to heaven so long before the rest of us. That its sad. Then we will talk about all the people that came that loved their sissy and came to that school to say goodbye to her. And all the people that came because they love us, the people that wanted to be there to say we are here for you.. with you. We can share how it felt to hear stories about her and share their own. And we will talk about the past 2 years Baggo tournaments. .. what Jennifer liked to do. What she bought at the snack shack. 15853916447_0f93a8ea02_z


We will give them power to accept the sad but also embrace the happy.



Then we left our session and went shopping. We went to Target. I could have used some kind of pill then.. something to take that edge off and down. Tony looked at me and knew. Told me we didn’t have to do it. But it was time. It was something in my control that I was ready to tackle.

I cried right when we walked in. I held onto the cart and covered my eyes with the sleeve of my sweatshirt and cried. Then I threw up. Then we shopped. For my 3 kids.

3 kids.

Im only shopping for three of my children. How is that right?

I am a mom of 4!mm7


..poor Tony. I am so glad that we are like the kids. Different things strike us in different ways. We got it done together and for twice as much as I have ever spent on presents for Christmas. I normally shop all year. .. sometimes even enough for the next year. This year though I didn’t.

My attention has been so many other places. Scared to stop. To slow down and really look. 4 names etched onto red stockings.. only 3 to fill.

i’m trying buggers

to find the balance

between this pain of missing


and the happy of remembering



….until there is a cure..

  1. Leah says:

    It all sounds unbelievably hard. Over and over and over again I am struck by your honesty, beauty and grace. Sending love.

  2. krista lund says:

    I wish I could give you something to take the hurt away, to make it easier. I would give you all my strength but I don’t think you need it. You are one of the strongest people I know. I am proud of you, Libby and Tony.

  3. Kristina says:


    I know you didn’t ask for advice per say, but I had an idea on something you could put in Jennifer’s stocking. What if on a red or pink piece of heart shaped paper everyone wrote their favorite memory of her? It might help the kids know that they ‘gave’ something to her for Christmas. I don’t know, maybe that’s silly. I just thought the idea of her stocking not staying empty might make it feel like she is still part of Christmas and part of the traditions you guys have. Just ramblings of my heavy heart to your broken one.

    Love and light, Libby. You deserve it so much more than anyone.

  4. linda blundo says:

    We love you all. We love Jennifer. #LOVE4JLK♡

  5. Melissa Reyes says:

    Kristina, what a beautiful idea. I hope Libby finds some solace in it….or something! Libby, if only I could snap my fingers and let it be past the holiday season for you all. NO scratch that idea, if only I could snap my fingers and let her be back. Let Jennifer be back……. big, huge, tight hugs….always.

  6. Crystal Polson says:

    Sending lots of hugs your way!

  7. Anna DePalma says:

    It seems that this year there are so many facing such sadness. I follow these kids that have this horrible disease anxiously with lots of hope that they will beat it but so far it hasn’t. My husband asks me why do I do that to myself and I tell him that ever since I started following your story I just can not stop. I pray for each and everyone of you for some peace and comfort but easier said than done. I wish I had the words to bring you some comfort and joy but I know that it will take a long while before that will happen. I am so so sorry for all of you that are going through this sad time this year. I just pray that in the midst of the sadness you will find a little joy. Praying for all the families going through this and praying the 2015 will be the year they find a cure. Sending you hugs and more hugs to you and your beautiful family!!!!

  8. Melissa says:

    My heart truly aches for you and Tony. Especially here at the holidays. I love Kristina’s idea for Jennifer’s stocking. Maybe something like that would help. Or perhaps “Santa” could leave something for your surviving 3 in her stocking, some sort of keepsake for them that can remind them of the wonderful times they shared with their sissy. I hope you are able to find something to comfort your family (and yourself) when you look at her stocking on Christmas morning. God bless you…praying for your family always.

  9. Mae says:

    Do you know what I love? That I actually got confused reading this through: is she talking about the Baggo tournaments or is she talking Jennifer’s celebration of life? That you managed to incorporate the happy feeling that was Jennifer into what is such a devastating event says something about your family. I hope you manage a little bit of that feeling this Christmas.

    I love the stocking idea. And what about getting one of those clear plastic or glass ornaments. You could either have your children make one each, have them draw a picture, inspired by feelings, thoughts, or memories of Jennifer (you can do this with paint sharpies; they are a little different from regular sharpies). Inside, you could even put a little note that describes what the picture is, and the year. If they do this each Christmas, I think you would end up with something quite beautiful.

  10. Kendra says:

    no words. just a stranger still reading. sending love & prayers to all six of you, and want you to know that I think about your beautiful little girl and her super strong parents as I train & run in preparation for the March race.


  11. Kirsten says:

    So rough. Maybe you could still shop for her, or let the kids pick something out, and then decide where Jennifer would have liked it to go? Toys for Tots? Angel Tree? (It’s for kids whose parents are incarcerated.) Maybe a Ronald McDonald House? I don’t know. I have no idea what this must be like. In a selfish way, I hope I never do, but I also wish beyond wishes that you didn’t have to either. Sending love and light to your family. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. I’ll keep reading, turning no’s into yes’s, and I’ll keep saying her name.

  12. Courtney says:

    Sending you strength, Libby. Strength and love.

  13. Kristen Tredrea says:

    If you think it’s something you could manage I like the idea of still shopping for Jennifer and maybe donating the things. It could be another for them because of her experience. And from everything you’ve written about your girl I think her generous spirit would like it. Praying for you guys always

  14. Emily says:

    I was thinking about the ideas above today. I like the idea of still incorporating her into the holiday. That was the hardest thing for my mom, and all of us really, when we had our first Christmas after my brother died. The empty stocking, shopping for 3 of us instead of 4. But, we were all adults, so we didn’t try to think of a way to incorporate him. Just missed him. I love the idea of putting something in her stocking for the other 3, and shopping for her but donating. Maybe have the other 3, or at least Jonathan, help with that? You continue to inspire me, and I think of and pray for your family daily, especially as I train for the run.

  15. EMailman says:

    Steadfastly sending love and energy and grief. Shopping for three must have been so intensely painful.

  16. robyn lomauro grenning says:

    I love the ideas about incorporating Jennifer, and having the kids put memories or gifts in her stocking…and maybe even go around the room to talk about something favorite about her, or even talk to her…she’ll be there with you i know. Thank you Libby, for always sharing your feelings, being so honest, letting us all in to what you’re experiencing. I’ve learned so very much, and promise to always do whatever I can to help in this fight. So many thoughts and prayers, you’re an inspiring woman and an incredible mom. <3 xo

  17. Donna M. says:

    Just sitting here in tears and feeling a teeny bit of your pain. And just knowing that I can’t say or do anything to help. So I’ll just say a prayer for you and send good thoughts.

  18. Denise Pandya says:

    sending love, so much love. and many many prayers

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