back home

Children are resilient. But they are also vulnerable and trusting. They believe. They hope. They try to make things right.

Jennifer always did. She fought. She hoped. She trusted.

Children are supposed to be innocent.

I stole my 4 year olds innocence. .. Another piece of it at least.. I had to rip more of it away from him.

I get told not to put my grief on them. To not misplace my feelings as theirs. They are so young they won’t remember. They barely knew her .. or never knew her.  That my kids are innocent.

But they aren’t. Cancer. Her death. Lack of funding. It stole their innocence. Charlotte was only 9 months .. and Bridgette wasn’t even born yet. ..

The boys decided to donate their birthdays to Unravel. Instead of presents from friends they asked for donations they could make to save other kids.

Right before we left for the bank. .. A picture with their "her"
Right before we left for the bank. .. A picture with their “her” and a crap ton of money!

One thing that matters to me a lot in Unravel is giving people the ability to fundraise in honor of their own fighter.. The “her” in “#forTHEMbecauseofher” that means the most to them. So that when you want to fundraise aka give us 12..  then you can choose what kind of pediatric cancer you want your money to directly impact. Honor funds or bake sales … or like my boys just did, donating their birthdays.

For my boys that “her” is their sister.. and themselves. Because when we went to the bank yesterday we talked about where they wanted the money to go and they said Jennifer’s type of cancer. So their 500 dollars will go to a lab fighting DIPG. But you can choose whatever kind you want your money to directly fight..

Nicholas was very intense in his want for that. .. Jonathan was excited about it, he seemed to get it and it seemed to me that he had some joy in his ability to fight back.

Jonathan wanted me to take a picture of him and his dragonfly necklace .
Jonathan wanted me to take a picture of him and his dragonfly necklace, well it was supposed to be mine but he took it over!

They are each so different in their reactions and needs right now. We work hard to juggle them both.  We talked about how they are working to save other kids from having to experience what they do .. what they are..  after losing Jennifer.

We got in the car. And I turned it on to our family song for her playing. A popular song 2 years ago so we don’t hear it often was playing. I told them I thought that was sissy’s way of saying thank you. As we drove out of the parking lot Nicholas spoke.

“So mom .. Now Jennifer can come home. ”

This wasn’t a question. It was a statement. It was a knife to my heart. It was his innocence and want to make things right vocalized.

I gagged. Literally fighting back the urge to throw up and cry.

“No buddy. Heaven is forever. Jennifer will be there forever..” he cut me off

“But why? Why can’t she come home? Why do some kids have to stay there forever?

I wish I could have given him a different answer.. or made it so this he didn't have to know this kind of truth.
I wish I could have given him a different answer.. or made it so that he didn’t have to know this kind of truth. I know these are age appropriate realizations. . but that doesn’t lessen the shock.

I’m not even sure what I said as he would throw out these grenade questions. I know I explained that the good news is when we get to heaven we will never have to be apart again. I know I tried to explain that because death is forever its even more important to try to do something now. That that is the reason we work for Unravel.. to save other kids and families.. even though we can’t help Jennifer we can help other families.

And because one day they will be teenagers we talked about why its important to make good choices to keep ourselves safe…because death is permanent.

I tried to explain that there is nothing we can do to bring her back to us.

I know I admitted that there is so much I have no idea about when it comes to heaven. But there is so much I believe…like that she finds ways to send us signs. ..

We went to the cemetery yesterday as a family. We smashed glitter filled eggs on each others head that we made for her birthday. We all had our favorite candy in her honor and I told them stories of their big sister.

well..

I tried to share stories… I had so little. I am horrified to admit I struggled so hard to think of stories. I can talk about her in broad strokes. Her love for water, for her siblings  and her fierce independence. But I struggled to come up with stories of moments.DSC_0414

Jonathan and Charlotte wandered away quickly. Off to explore in the playground I never imagined them having.. a cemetery. Nicholas however.. he paced around us. Quiet and listening. Until he said still looking down ..

“When are you going to tell me a story about ME and Sissy?”

This was a question. One that hit me with a similar slice as the day befores statement. Because it was laced with both hope and doubt in my ability to tell a story of Nicholas and Jennifer. I understand him more than I want to admit.

its me too baby girl

i think i have the same hope

when will i have done enough

to bring you back

home.

DSC_0104-1..until there is a cure..

10 Responses to “back home”

  1. It’s because you are doing such a great job keeping Jennifer remembered and her name spoken that he wants to be in her stories. Thank you for sharing yet another piece of your journey. How wise Nicholas is becoming and what an awesome empathetic man he’ll be !

  2. My heart broke into a thousand pieces at N’s statement. “So mom .. Now Jennifer can come home. ” Like if he just gave enough, hoped enough, wished enough, done enough….that those things would make it true. TEARS! I’m so sorry (again) for your loss. For our loss. xoxo

  3. I lost my sweet Maddie to this horrific cancer just 11 days ago. Everyone tries to tell me that the pain will lessen in time. I think you just get used to it. Thank you, Libby, for sharing yourself. It makes me feel that I’m not alone to believe that while I may be able to move on, I’ll never get over this loss and that’s ok. Although right now moving on seems impossible.

  4. Teresa, I am so sorry and am sending prayers to you and your family.
    Libby, this post was so heartbreaking. It is hard to read that people say to you not to put grief onto Jennifer’s siblings. It reminds me of when people say they didn’t ask how you were doing after someone has died because they didn’t want to bring it up. As if these feelings and the reality of the loss isn’t always, always present. I have so much admiration for how you navigate your grief and the grief of your family. The way you speak to your 4 other children about Jennifer and what you are all going through is truly incredible. Sending extra love to you and Nicholas today.

  5. Jonathan and Nicholas have changed so much as they have grown since you introduced all of us to them through photos. I am amazed at how much they look alike! They are such beautiful boys! Of course Charlotte and Bridgette are beautiful too 🙂 Nicholas is such a deep thinker, and I can almost hear the wheels turning in his mind as he comes up with these heavy, serious questions. You always do such a good job managing these tough, tough questions. I think it’s wonderful that they made such altruistic choices for their birthdays. It must give them such a proud feeling of empowerment and achievement to be able to contribute in such a significant way.

    I’ve been following your blog for a long time, as I am a therapist who often works with families who are dealing with cancer. I have worked with 5 families now who have lost children to brain tumours. Oddly enough, 2 of those children also had DIPG. When I first learned about DIPG about 4 or 5 years ago, I was blown away at this horrific beast of a tumour that has a zero chance of survival. I just could not wrap my head around that. How could we have a brain tumour in this day and age that steals our children and gives them no hope at all of beating it? You are doing great work for DIPG, Libby. Really wonderful, necessary and important work. I am always trying to spread the word about DIPG especially to people with children because I think everyone with children needs to know that this monster exists. This horrible beast could be found in any child, and as you know all too well it just suddenly becomes a real, live monster in your world. A shaky hand, a crossed eye, a headache, and bam, worst case scenario. I have high hopes that we will make progress with DIPG because of the number of foundations like Unravel that are showing up. I just wish that these foundations did not have to come as a result of a beautiful family losing their beloved child.

    I wanted to give my support, because I have noticed that over the course of your blogging you do occasionally get some pretty mean and insensitive comments from people that do not even know you. This is the price people pay for being brave enough for sharing their journey with the world. I hope it does not discourage you. I’ve seen it time and time again on many other blogs. People have strange motivations sometimes, and a lot of people are walking around this earth carrying very heavy, painful burdens that cause them to inappropriately lash out at those who really don’t need it or deserve it. You handle is all with so much grace and dignity.

    I was thinking, maybe you could look at some baby pictures of Nicholas and that might trigger more specific memories of Jennifer and Nicholas? You could then share with him some examples of how much she loved him as an infant and how she cared for him right from the moment he existed. He would probably love to hear stories of when he was a baby with sissy taking care of him. I know she only had 6 years with you, but I’m sure there are more stories in there, it is just a question of how to access them. Maybe you have already considered this and done it, but I thought I would share just in case. Pictures are often excellent triggers for memories we didn’t realize we had forgotten.

    So thank you, Libby, for sharing so openly and being so generous with your life and especially for sharing Jennifer with us. I have loved getting to know your precious girl, the beautiful and delightful Jennifer Lynn Kranz! When I pray for the children I know and read about who have died from cancer, I am always sure to say their full names out loud because I know how important it is for parents to hear their children’s names being spoken. So please know that somewhere in Canada, a “stranger” is often praying for the family of JENNIFER LYNN KRANZ and wishing so desperately there was something more I could do to ease your pain.

    Please don’t take the crappy commentary to heart, and keep sharing. You are helping other families and so many people…so many more people than you could ever possibly realize. I know there are so many who are like me, silently reading along from the start. I wanted to finally speak up, say hello, and let you know that yet another person has been touched by JENNIFER LYNN!!!!

    Oh, I have to ask….How do you make a glitter filled egg? I need to know how to do this! I love glitter!

    Best wishes and big hugs for all of you!

    Andrea

    1. Blow out the inside of a egg and have one side be a big hole. Rinse it and let it dry out. Then fill it with glitter and tape it closed with tissue paper.

  6. Love the expression on Jonathan’s face with his money and his ‘her’! Think about JLK and all of you often.

    Nicholas broke my heart!

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