Tuesday, August 28, 2012

1 month, "the video", and $67

Yesterday marked one month since Liv left us. I desperately want to say it was the shortest month and it just seems like yesterday, but it doesn't. Sadly, it seems very far away. One of my biggest fears, I tell Brian often, is I'm afraid I'm going to forget. Forget the small things about Liv, forget what it was like taking care of her, seeing her smile, what she smelled like, how she held her hands. Even now, I feel like they are fading from me. I am frantic to hold onto anything I can.

We have some amazingly talented and gracious friends who volunteered to take pictures of us in our home before Liv passed and again at the funeral service. Those pictures have been put into this beautiful video and given to us as a gift to remember our darling Liv. The song is beautiful. The voice over is Brian's sermon on suffering several weeks back. This video has been instrumental in my grief and in my joy in remembering Liv, how she held her hands, her beautiful eyes that say so much, who was at the funeral, the pain and the joy of that day, and most importantly the promises of God amongst all that.

Also, funny things crop up when someone dies. Most of Liv's stuff we've donated--therapy things and expensive equipment that others can use. I haven't touched her room yet, but have the rubbermaid bins all ready in the middle of the rug. You KNOW they're purple. While I haven't put things away, I was rummaging around in there the other day, thinking of things I wanted to put in Gabs' room. I found Liv's "my first piggy bank" and emptied the contents on the bed. $67. Thats Liv's money. I have thought for two weeks about the appropriate thing to do with this money. Donate it? Brian's suggestion was to "will it" to Gabby. I guess either way I didn't get around to getting her something I should have. 

Next post, I am saying with confidence, will solely be about Gabby. In my sad postings you have missed so much: stanky leg crawling, pulling up, and a tooth. What a maniac.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

kelly's stages of grief

I know its been a while. First we were out of town, then I was reorganizing the house, and then I was just avoiding you. There is both too much and too little to say about the last 4 weeks. Where do I begin?

Everyone knows the Kubler-Ross stages of grief:

1. denial
2. anger
3. bargaining
4. depression
5. acceptance

I know grief is not a linear thing. We have been grieving Liv's health for three plus years. I have learned a few things about grieving. Let me tell you my 4 stages of grieving her death over the past 4 weeks.

1. shock (which actually lasts through stages 2 and 3 and probably comes back again and again)
Shock is how you stand next to your child's casket during the visitation for two hours without losing your mind, how you decide you might get up in the morning-- like it may all be untrue, and how you seem literally surprised everytime you see their name next to a birthdate and a date of death. You did, in fact, go to the funeral and bury her, but its like going to your own wedding-- you remember almost none of it.

2. public crying.  Public crying is allowed to happen for two reasons: 1. you're beyond consolation, so you're going to cry all the time anyway 2. people let you cry in public because you just started doing it, and its still pretty with tears

3. private crying. This is the WORST stage. Private crying HAS to happen in private because its been a few weeks since the death and people are tired of you being sad. But mostly, it has to be done in private because its the "ugly crying". Your face contorts, there are no tears left, and you do this hiccuping/ gasping thing neither you nor other people appreciate. Yuck.

4. melancholy. I think this stage is partly due to, finally, the exit of adrenaline. The only way you can physically get through stages 1, 2, and 3 is adrenaline. Instead of exhibiting your grief by tears, which is exhausting, you just "feel sad" a lot and look tired. Seriously, I had to start wearing mascara again for the first time since January because I looked so horrible (and I wasn't really crying much anyway).

If you think I have dark humor you should read C.S. Lewis on grief.  He makes me look like Mother Goose.

Honestly, there has been a lot of crying, and just tiredness and sadness, a lot of avoiding you, both on the Internet and in person. There have also been some (and increasing) laughs about memories of Liv, and laughs at Gabby. When I need a gut check I read the blog I wrote about her last few days, or look over her memory book from the visitation/funeral (thanks jami), or watch a video our amazing photographer friends put together and we will be sharing some time (thanks parsons), or I just pack up in the car, drive 5 minutes down the road and sit on the ground next to where she is buried and we have a chat. Almost every time it results in ugly, private crying. But, at the end, I mostly feel resolved.

I think I thought the grieving part would be easier if I believed she was in heaven, that grieving just for me losing her (and not having to grieve her pain any more) would make the whole thing "tolerable". I tell you what, if you have to grieve for yourself AND the deceased, you might just whither away to nothing.

Most days now are fine. We are functioning. Brian is back at work. We are sleeping and eating fine. We are actually exercising for the first time in 3 years. We cry some. Some days we cry alot. We are so thankful for many things: your prayers and support, the many ways we have of remembering our time with Olivia, and the HUGE distraction that Gabs is--she is doing something new every day. If you want pictures of her recently you might check out Brian's instagram feed on "follow us". You were lucky to get words from me today!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

6 Years Later...An Anniversary Post

Six years ago today...this happened.

Since then...

We have moved to Kansas City.

We bought a dog.

We have lived at 4 different addresses in Kansas City.

We bought a house.

We have completed graduate school.

We have had two babies.

We have had two miscarriages.

We have lost one of our babies.

In the middle of all of that, we have fallen more in love than we ever thought possible. We have grown in grace toward one another. We have spent long nights talking, worrying, praying, and crying. We have grown in our commitment to God and to one another. 

Things started off a bit rough (I hear this happens to many people). But the truth of the gospel and its implications for our lives have not only kept us together, but it has filled our marriage with grace, forgiveness, repentance, and joy.

I am so thankful to have the woman who is the primary author of this blog as my wife. There is no one else that I would want to be married to. There is no one else I would rather have in the trenches with me.

I love you Kelly Key. Here's to many more years with you.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Her last days with us

Thanks for allowing Brian and I time to stop and begin to process what the last week and a half has held for us. We are ready to tell you about Liv's last days with us.

Two weeks ago Liv began sleeping more. We expected it, but just one day it happened and she didn't ever gain her energy back. As far as we could tell she wasn't sick, but I think she was starting to feel it. That was a Sunday. That night Brian gave her a pep talk. The next day we were scheduled to finally go to the aquarium (with free tickets before it actually opened for the day--HUGE thanks to Annie). We thought if Liv wasn't up to it we wouldn't take her, though we had been looking forward to it for weeks. Brian told her she didn't feel better we wouldn't go. Monday morning came and she was as bright-eyed as could be. So we rounded up the troops and left for Crown Center.Our dear friend Rachelle came to document the trip. We are completely indebted to both her and Annie for making this incredible trip so memorable. It was one of the highlights of her last weeks at home.

Tuesday she continued to sleep more, but her awake hours at home were filled with play time and enjoying the porch.

Wednesday, after a visit from the Hospice nurse Liv woke up from her nap coughing. I thought maybe she just needed to cough up the after-sleep stuff, but she just kept coughing. That night, Brian and I knew this illness would be it for her, but we had no idea how long it would take. We prayed for it to go quickly--it did. Wednesday night she did ok, and thankfully we got some sleep while her nurse watched her carefully. Thursday morning she was struggling a little more to breathe and we called the Hospice nurse to come check on her. In just twelve hours of apparent illness, Olivia's lungs were mostly filled with fluid.

That morning Brian and I struggled with our decision to keep her home. We had turned off her feeding pump and her machine that tells us how well she is breathing-- it was just alarming all the time anyway. We tried keeping her at home, but the morphine regimen was stressful for us to maintain--every hour counting her respiratory rate and deciding if she then needed more medication. By the middle of the day Thursday we decided to take their open room at the Kansas City Hospice House. We are monumentally glad we did. After transporting her in the car to the house we were met with a child-decorated room and an incredibly helpful and kind staff. They began to give morphine via sub-Q (a small needle into her fatty tissue, since they do not do regular IVs there). Olivia calmed down very well with the medicine then and Brian and I focused on just being mom and dad instead of caregivers. That night we were allowed to sleep in her bed with her and we took advantage and took turns. The pictures below are the last pictures we have of Olivia, from Thursday evening.

In the middle of the night it seemed apparent that Olivia would be leaving us soon. The nurse gave her an extra dose of morphine about 2am and we stayed up for an hour to sing to her, read scriptures, and prepare ourselves for her departure. Brian slept in her bed from 3am to 5am when we woke up again to the nurse giving more morphine. Olivia's body was trying to fight so hard, and we let her know for the millionth time that it was ok to relax and let go. At 5:30am I laid in bed with Liv and fell asleep listening to her erratic breathing. Brian stayed awake for a while, eventually giving in to heavy eyelids a few minutes later. At 6:20am I was awakened, by apparently nothing in particular. I laid awake looking at the ceiling listening to---nothing. I rolled over and Liv was gone--sneaking out in the few minutes we were not keeping watch--probably the Lord's kindness to us. After waking Brian up we took Liv's oxygen off and just stared at her, both thanking the Lord her suffering was over and wondering what to do next.

The rest of that day was mostly a blur: showering, cemetery shopping, probably eating, lots of family...about 2pm the funeral home finally came to pick Liv up from the Hospice House. Brian chose to perform his last fatherly duty by picking her up out of bed and placing her body on the gurney to be taken away. He rolled her down the hall and into the chapel, where we had a brief family prayer led by one of our friends and pastor, Kris.

Since then, there are a million people to thank, tons of stories to tell, but very few pictures. On the list of people to thank is you. Thank you, for praying, for crying, for agonizing with us. For rejoicing, for thanking God, and for celebrating Liv's freedom. Her life was very short, but incredibly purposeful and amazing by any measure. Brian and I are beyond grateful and very honored to have been the parents to Olivia Grace Key while she was here on earth. She has changed us in profound ways. Perhaps on a selfish note, if there is any memory or treasured thought, or way Olivia has changed you, we would love to hear it and celebrate her life with you. Feel free to leave a comment, please.

Olivia's death is not the end of this blog. Though it was mostly about her, and started as a way to keep people informed of her medical progress, in honor of her we decided to keep it going, to be honest about where our family is and how we are doing with life, with grieving her death, with the incredible escapades of Gabby, her sister, who is 100% her own person but like her sister in so many ways. We hope you'll stick around.