Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Cookies and Kittens and Other Cute Stuff

Hi all. We’ve been busy around here the past week or so.

First before I do anything else, here is Agnes’ grave marker! It was installed in time for us to visit on Memorial Day. It is so pretty. We are very happy with it.

10418322_10203182051448795_7103262694341153966_n

 

Octopus and shark cookies, with interested facial features.

Octopus and shark cookies, with interested facial features.

Okay. Since I made those cute lamb cookies for the Holy Ghost parish Easter dinner, I’ve been waiting for an excuse to make more cute cutout cookies. Finally this week I found an excuse: the celebration of Stephen’s baptism day! He was baptized on May 28, 2011 when he was just barely three weeks old. We want to celebrate these sacramental anniversaries in our family, so we took the opportunity to throw a little party, complete with cute animal cutout cookies. I wanted to do octopuses and sharks because those cutters appealed to me this time. If you are interested, the set of cutters I bought is this one from Wilton. It has any animal you could ever want. Any. Animal. The cookie recipe I use now for these cutouts is the “Glazed Butter Cookie” recipe from The New Best Recipe Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen. I haven’t talked about those guys for a while, but I want you all to know that they are still a big part of my life. Especially now that I can’t live without these cookies. I like this recipe because the dough is easy to work with, you don’t have to chill it for hours before you roll it out for cutting, plus the directions say to roll the dough between two sheets of parchment which is pure genius. Nothing sticks to anything and the dough rolls out perfectly even with very few tears. That’s “tears” rhymes with “pears” not rhymes with “beers,” though this recipe certainly cuts down on that kind of “tears” as well.

Nap time

Nap time

Also this past weekend we went to visit my Aunt and the new kittens one of her cats recently birthed. There were four kittens in the litter and we wanted to adopt one of them! It was a fun trip. Stephen enjoyed playing with all four kittens, who were all energetic and very adorable. We decided relatively quickly that we wanted to take the fluffy one, the only kitten that has long fur. We had been discussing potential kitten names for a while so it was pretty easy to decide on a name. At this point in the story I would like to stop the narrative in order to fill you in on a bit of history. As you know, we already have a cat named Sashimi. We adopted Sashimi a few years ago when we lived in Billings, MT, and we thought it was funny to name him after the Japanese raw-fish appetizer “sashimi.” Ha ha. Aren’t we funny and so witty. Anyway so. We wanted to continue the ethnic food theme with our new cat as well. We tossed around some ideas like Pakora, which is a chickpea flour fritter from the East Indian culinary tradition. We considered Cannoli. Taquito. Nori. Ramen. As you can imagine it gets ridiculous very quickly. Frijoles Refritos, “Frito” for short. Combo Plate #2. Gravlax. Wonton. I refer you back a few lines [ha ha aren’t we funny and so witty]. We named the fluffy kitten Pakora and vowed to bring her home with us.

Oh, but all the other kittens are so cute and look at that one, he really gets along well with Pakora and my Aunt says he’s even more snuggly and I really wanted to get another snuggly kitty. But then, if we get another kitten, what should we name it? Gravlax? Jeremy said no way. I quote directly from Jeremy’s mouth: “That is the worst name for a cat ever.”

Gravlax (left) and Pakora (right)

Gravlax (left) and Pakora (right)

Guess what we ended up naming the kitten? Gravlax! I’m so happy we did because every time anyone says the name Gravlax everyone in the room kind of titters. It’s hilarious. Also, it’s very much in keeping with Sashimi’s name, since Gravlax is a fermented fish that is also eaten raw. I think the name is awesome. Pakora and Gravlax. It rolls off the tongue so well. And they really do get along well with each other. Sashimi did take a few days to get used to the idea of two new kittens, but I think they have already worked out their differences. They have all played together a few times, and they can all eat in the same room without a throw-down occurring.

stephen and iconsFinally, we hung up our icons in our new house. It took awhile to get around to it, but I’m so happy we finally did it. It looks great! There is plenty of room to continue adding icons as our collection grows. So long as add to it symmetrically! We plan to have icons for each of our children’s patron saints, as many as that may be, plus whatever else we decide to add. I’m excited for the possibilities.Gravlax likes Mary!

1 Comment »

Face to Face

I realized today that one of the main reasons I’ve been quiet on the blog recently is not because my life is so busy. No. It’s not because nothing meaningful is happening around here, that’s not it either. I think the big reason I’m not posting on the blog is because Jeremy and I are participating in grief counseling. I am able to take the inner conversations that I used to hash out on the interwebs, and I hash them out with our counselor. This activity is exceedingly important and beneficial, and I didn’t fully realize how beneficial the counseling is until I made the connection to my silence on the blog.

We’ve been meeting with the grief counselor for about six weeks, and that pretty much lines up with blog silence. It’s really funny to me that I find myself appreciating the experience so much, since Jeremy all but dragged my the hair into the first meeting. *Sighhhhh* “Okay, honey, if it’s that important to you, we can go…”

The first few weeks of meetings, we just got to know our counselor (we have the same lady every time), and we told her the background of us and Agnes’ story, and what happened when she died. Then we worked on a list of goals so we know what we are working on, and so we can know when we are done. That was hard. How will we be able to know when we are healed enough that we don’t need grief counseling anymore? We had to list specific, concrete markers like: right now I cry at trigger moments twice a day; I’ll know I am “done” when I cry at trigger moments only once a week. For example. We have to learn how to recognize a trigger moment is about to happen so we can redirect ourselves or prepare, and thus manage our emotions. That is a big one. For me, trigger moments happen all the freaking time. If you ever see me weeping in the grocery store parking lot or sniffling during choir practice, now you know why. Trigger moment. I keep saying that like you already know what it means. You can probably guess, but the trigger moment is something that makes me think of Agnes, or something that makes me feel sad, or something that pushes me close to the edge of tears. So basically, anything.

The other thing we’ve been doing with our counselor is, she wanted a list of names of all the people whose lives were enriched or touched by Agnes in any way. That would be a completely separate post. I think I will do it; the list is very impressive. And our counselor wants us to think about all the positive things that are coming of our experience. She told us that even though we feel like it is impossible to even get up in the morning and do our stuff, people look at us and are filled with hope because, if we can overcome the monumental loss of our baby enough so that we are even able to drag our butts out of the house, then they can surely overcome whatever trials they have in their lives. So, we’re supposed to think about things like that. Hope. Inspiration. Are we inspiring? I don’t know. I don’t feel that inspiring.

Anyway, it’s very good that we are meeting with a grief counselor and having these conversations face to face. She is trained to ask the right questions and draw out what we really need to say. She is encouraging and receptive, affirms our feelings and tells us we are totally and completely normal for feeling the way we do. She helps us to see all the sides and she helps us draw comfort from our memories rather than pain. Face to face. A living, feeling person is far superior for this sort of thing than a glowing screen bearing a vague promise that someone might connect.

On a slightly related note, I just want to mention that we are pretty excited because the monument company called us this week to say Agnes’ burial marker is finished; the cemetery will install it soon. This is huge because every time we go visit Agnes’ grave site we’re like, “….I think this is it…maybe…or over here?…This looks right with that tree there….I think I remember these other names being near her…” It’s a nightmare! When I say a prayer over the place where Agnes is buried, I want to be darn sure she is where I think she is! Plus, we’re excited because her stone is really pretty. We’ll definitely take a picture once it’s installed and I’ll put it up here. No worries.

100_1811

An old picture of Agnes I wanted to share again. Because she’s cute!

3 Comments »

Stephen is Three!

100_2123This weekend we celebrated Stephen’s third birthday by throwing a little party. We were kind of organized about it, and put together a few casual activities like blowing bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and bowling with the plastic kid bowling set on the front patio. We made a table full of treats, and Stephen got to eat cake, and open presents, and play with his little friends. I would say the party was a success, though a more closely-structured activity may have been better for the group of kids we had. A more structured activity may have averted the inevitable three-year-old conflict. Oh well. Overall, I would say the party went well.

When we bought our house, the oven in the kitchen didn’t work, so we’ve been doing everything on the stovetop or in the little toaster oven. We were waiting for our tax refund to arrive before we bought a new oven. Well, we were able to get our new oven delivered and installed on Friday evening, so I was able to bake Stephen’s cake at home! It was the very first thing (and so far, only) I made in the new oven. Sniff, how sweet! I had fully intended to buy a nice-looking cake from the grocery store bakery, but when I went to the store for party shopping, I noticed the box mixes and cans of frosting were all $1.00 each. I know, I know, box cake mix. But Stephen doesn’t care if I baked his birthday cake from scratch and frankly, I had a number of other things to do, so I made him a cake for $2.00 and decorated it with candy I already had. You can’t beat that. And of course, he loved it! Blowing out the candle did take two tries because one of his little friends ran up and blew it out the first time. We relit the candle and Stephen had a turn. He blows like he’s saying “ffff” which isn’t very effective at creating a breeze, so I helped. He’s a hoot.

100_2125Stephen was looking forward to his birthday for at least a week, and he would show anyone who asked how old he was going to be. Three fingers. The morning of his party he asked to eat cake for breakfast. He knows that’s ridiculous, too, because he asks very quietly and looks embarrassed when we ask him to repeat the request because we didn’t hear it. He’s very cute. Even today as we eat the leftover party treats, he holds up the grape or the strawberry or the piece of cheese and says, “this was for my birfday!” He is still talking about his party and how he had a “birfday.” Our friends and family gave Stephen some very thoughtful gifts for his special day. Jeremy’s parents shipped him one of those bikes with no pedals, and the kid is supposed to push it along with his feet. Stephen is kind of nervous to ride it, so we don’t have any documentation of his bike enjoyment yet, but we’re hoping he gains confidence quickly. The little boy who lives next door jumped right on and rode around, so we’re thinking of inviting him back to show Stephen how to do it!

100_2130I can’t believe Stephen is already three years old. When I think back to what my life was like when he was born, it seems like a life that belonged to a different person! So much has happened since then. We’ve moved twice to two different states. I quit working full time, then quit working part time. We had a miscarriage, then another baby, then that baby died. Jeremy changed careers. We have a new house. We’ve become Byzantine Catholic after a life of Roman Catholicism. So much has happened since Stephen was born, and he’s rolled with it the whole way. He is so good-natured and easy-going. Of course he has unreasonable toddler moments, but we are so blessed to have such a wonderful little guy in our lives. He is smart and funny and helpful, he does cute stuff and has interesting ideas, he makes me smile and cry.

Happy birthday, Stephen. Mommy and Daddy love you! And your baby sister Agnes loves you! And all your grandparents love you! And everyone else…you know how you feel about my kiddo.

Leave a comment »

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

This past week has been crazy and busy. We have been on the run, which is nice because there were a couple days in a row that I didn’t cry about Agnes even once. So I guess I’m doing okay.

Ha.

On Thursday we took some time out to go up to Cornerstone of Hope, a non-profit faith-based grief counseling organization in Independence. This organization was founded by a Catholic couple in 2000 after the death of their little boy. They looked for something that would help them process their grief after the death of their child, but there were very few options. No one wanted to help grieving families acknowledge death. So they started their own gig. Jeremy and I found out about Cornerstone of Hope a few weeks ago when we went to the Marriages of Grace retreat. Cornerstone of Hope was a program sponsor with an ad in the retreat booklet. We would have missed it there, if one of the other couples on retreat hadn’t pointed it out to us and told us what the organization was about. The ad focused on some summer camps for boys and girls, so we had no idea it was also a grief counseling organization.

After the retreat, Jeremy spent some time looking up information about Cornerstone of Hope. I let him because I’m a supportive wife, and even though I don’t need any help processing my grief, I knew Jeremy had been feeling kind of down and maybe it would be good for him.

Ha.

We went together to an intake meeting on Thursday and the therapist asked us to tell a bit about Agnes’ story and why we were at Cornerstone of Hope looking for help, and what we thought we might benefit from as far as types of therapy or services they might provide. The therapist also took us each through a 15 to 20 point grief symptoms checklist, I don’t know…I guess to see how much in grief we are.

Are you experiencing any of the following:
Appetite changes?
Lack of energy?
Changes in sleep patterns (too little of not enough)?
Headaches or general achiness?
Inability to make decisions?
Lack of motivation?
Loss of interest in hobbies?
Forgetfulness?
Urge to cry unexpectedly or intense crying?
Change in social habits?
Feelings of loneliness?
Isolation?
Feelings of worthlessness?
Feelings of helplessness?
Anxiety or panic?
Anger or irritation?
Disorganization?
Lack of focus or concentration?
Recurring thoughts or ideas?

I think I answered “yes” to all but four or five of the items. The moral of the story is I thought I was doing well, but a professional assessment has revealed that I am a wreck. I was living in a lie that I had crafted for myself. It is true that I had a lot of time to pre-grieve while Agnes was sick in the hospital, but that was grieving for something different. We have been grieving different things ever since we had that first ultrasound of Agnes back in February of 2013. We grieved the loss of an uneventful pregnancy, the loss of a totally natural birth, the loss of our joyous homecoming with a healthy baby, the loss of all Agnes’ milestones, the loss of her cry. She never cried. You might think a baby crying is just loud and irritating, but I would give anything to have heard Agnes cry even once.

Anyway, Jeremy and I are going to start grief counseling because we both would benefit from it. I was too proud to admit that I needed help; going to this meeting was very close to the last item on my “want-to-do” list but it is good that Jeremy dragged me up to Independence. I’m not really in a position to give advice, but I would say that if you think your mood or behavior is at all different from how you remember yourself, get a professional assessment because if you do need help, you are probably not in a position to recognize it for yourself.

4 Comments »

Family Mission

First, it turns out this is my 200th post on the blog! Woohoo!

Jeremy and I were able to go on a mini retreat over the weekend. It was the annual Marriage Enrichment retreat put together by Marriages of Grace, a local organization founded by an ordinary married couple about seven or eight years ago. The retreat last weekend featured a couple keynote speakers, some smaller talks, time for each couple to be together to reflect on the content of the program, then Mass and a dinner. It was a great program and I encourage anyone in the Cleveland/Akron area to consider attending future events.

Anyway, the small talk Jeremy and I attended was all about dream building and setting personal dreams and family dreams, then figuring out what behaviors and habits are helping you to realize those dreams. That talk got us thinking about our family’s mission, which we have thought about before a few years ago. Then we forgot about it and never developed our ideas. The family mission is a great way to focus our energy and attention when it comes to philanthropy, supporting different organizations, even the activities we get involved in. For example, the couple who founded Marriages of Grace obviously support the sacrament of marriage as part of their mission. They focus a lot of energy and resources toward programs that build up married couples and help marriages flourish.

Jeremy and I thought of a few ideas. I really want hospitality to be part of our mission. I think it’s important for there to be snacks and coffee at a bible study. If you can have a lunch after a church meeting, you should. I would love to be able to spontaneously invite overnight guests to stay at our house. I want to have dinner company often, especially clergy and religious. We met the two Brothers of the Holy Spirit after Divine Liturgy on Sunday, and they confessed to us that they have started a new ministry: the ministry of eating! I want to support them in that by having them over for dinner!

Jeremy and I also want our family mission to include evangelization–Catholic in particular, and recruiting for Holy Ghost parish in particular. We love our parish family and we want the parish to succeed long term. I believe there are many people longing to experience the beauty and mystery of the Byzantine rite, but they don’t even know we are here and that they are welcome to come! It’s not widely known that Byzantine Catholic liturgies are open to Roman Catholics; Roman Catholics can receive sacraments because the Byzantine churches are in communion with Rome. They recognize the Pope as the head of the Church. The format of Divine Liturgy may seem foreign at first, compared to Mass, but it is actually similar. There is a series of petitions, then readings from scripture, then a homily, then Eucharist, then dismissal. We sing “Lord, have mercy” a lot, but other than that it is remarkably similar. I really like that Mary the Mother of God is mentioned so much in the Byzantine Liturgy. She is mentioned in nearly every long prayer the priest says, plus she gets a petition in all the litanies, plus there are at least two hymns for Mary sung during the liturgy. Roman Catholics may think they have Mary all to themselves, but I think the Byzantine liturgy texts mention her way more! So if you have a particular devotion to Mary, check out a Byzantine church! My personal, most favorite part about coming to church on Sunday is walking in amidst all the beautiful icons, gleaming gold in the lamplight, and inhaling the combined scents of incense and frying onions. It’s just perfect. It smells so holy and homey at the same time.

So, those are a couple ideas we have had about our family mission. I’m sure we will continue working out what God’s Plan is for our family. We continue to pray for inspiration and for the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds and hearts.

1 Comment »

One Month in Heaven

Today marks one month since Agnes passed from this earth into the eternal kingdom. It’s hard to believe one month has passed already; it feels like we lost her only yesterday. On the other hand, we have kept ourselves busy with guests, and home buying, and projects, and it’s hard to believe only one month has passed; it feels like a longer interval has passed.

I still miss Agnes every day. Sometimes a random little thing will remind me of her. Like yesterday at church while I was singing in the choir, I looked at one of the other singers while we were chanting and I remembered a conversation I had with that singer on the day of Agnes’ funeral. Bam. Sad about Agnes. Or walking around a department store I may happen down the aisle where baby clothes are displayed. Bam. Or driving towards downtown Akron on the road we always took to get to the hospital. Bam. Or scanning the obituary page of the newspaper and I see the name of the funeral home that handled our arrangements. Bam.

The other hard thing is not unexpected: now that I have recently lost a baby, every lady everywhere has a baby, or is about to have a baby. Many of my friends are expecting new babies. Many of my friends currently have adorable infants. Babies are everywhere, and my arms feel empty without my baby. I go back and forth between desperately wanting a replacement baby, and being terrified to ever have another baby ever again. And of course, once in a while, I am actually at peace with the current status of my children.

This is actually a "dry sink" but the plastic changing pad fits perfectly!

This is actually a “dry sink” but the plastic changing pad fits perfectly!

Jeremy and I are trying different ways to keep Agnes’ memory alive, especially for Stephen. We have photos of Agnes displayed in the house, and of course Stephen has his own little photo in his room. Plus we always mention Agnes at bedtime for him, saying that she’s with Mary and Jesus watching over Stephen and protecting him. Plus I wear my cool necklace with my three kids’ names, and I show it to Stephen when he notices it. We also felt inspired to make a donation to our church in Agnes’ memory, so we purchased a diaper changing table for the bathroom at the church. There was no convenient space for baby diaper-changing except on the floor, plus the parish is trying to find ways to attract more parishioners. Jeremy and I thought some family-friendly additions might help along those lines. So, now we can remember Agnes every time we use the bathroom! And she can help bring new young families into the parish!

It’s a daily struggle to find peace and joy, but we are doing okay. We will always be marked by this process of losing a child, but I don’t think it will take us out completely. We are carrying on with life and finding ways to fill our days.

100_2053

4 Comments »

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks one year of blogging for me. One year ago I was living in Rio Rancho, NM and struggling to find satisfaction in my life as a housewife and mother. I started keeping this blog as a way to be mindful of the little blessings in my life, and as a way to process disappointments with some detachment. I’ve always been somewhat volatile as far as elation/sorrow are concerned, so a place where I could take a step back was helpful. I think this blog was a very important factor in my life this past year, with all the ups and downs of carrying a baby with an uncertain medical future, moving across country, giving birth to Agnes who turned out to have enormously complicated medical requirements, then ultimately becoming the mother of a deceased child. I wrote a post a while back about my family’s struggles during the past couple years, with the closing remark that hopefully the next year would prove to be less trying. I don’t know if that has happened, but I’m certain this blog has helped me to bear up under strains and trials that most people would consider to be unbearable. I’ve had my moments of weakness, as you know if you have read my blog, and my moments of strength and clarity. I won’t say I’m grateful for what this past year has brought me, but I will say this past year has shaped me into a different sort of person and taught me about what I value in my life. There have been many many blessings that came about because of the suffering my family has endured; blessings enough to make the suffering worth the pain.

At this point in my life, I am nowhere close to what I expected my life to be even four or five years ago. I never imagined I would have two out of three of my children in heaven. I never imagined that I would be living in Ohio under my parents’ roof. I never imagined that I would find fulfillment as a homemaker. But this is my life, and it does nobody any good for me to regret past choices. In fact, I do find fulfillment in my work at home, and the journey I have taken so far has made a person I can respect.

Thank you for taking this journey with me.100_2019

5 Comments »

My Blog is Not Dead, I Promise

I guess I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus with the blog since Agnes died. I’m not apologizing but I do feel as if I have been neglecting this page. So, this is my first entry back into the world wide web as a blogger.

We’ve been busy around home playing with Stephen and hosting Jeremy’s parents. It has been nice having them here to help out and Stephen is just over the moon to have “grandpa and grandma, and new grandpa and new grandma” around. He is getting lots of attention. We’ve taken him to the library a couple of times in the past week or two and that is pretty much the most awesome place ever! Stephen adores picking out a stack of books to bring home. We pulled out a special basket for library books, to keep them separate, and Stephen is excited about his stash of books.

We’ve also been busy stepping up our efforts to buy a house. Jeremy and I are poor so his parents are graciously lending us their credit credentials as “non-occupant co-borrowers” so we can qualify for a mortgage. We found a beautiful home in the perfect neighborhood, and we made an offer that was accepted! It will probably take a month or so to get everything worked out, but we are already very excited about our new house. It was built in 1918 and still has original woodwork in the whole house; it was painted over in only one of the bedrooms. There are gorgeous hardwood floors in most of the house, a full basement with a workroom, and a finished attic. There is a good mix of move-in ready with some projects we can complete as we wish. The kitchen needs updating and the back porch is not great, plus the usual cosmetic type things (wallpaper in a room or two, paint colors). We are excited!

We’ve also been busy diving into handiwork. Jeremy is back at the books studying for his nursing degree. Luckily he was able to work ahead before Agnes died, so he didn’t actually get that far behind in the past couple weeks. As for me, I am exploring the boundless wonders to be seen on Pinterest; I’ve even started a project! I’m braiding a rag rug. It will be so pretty when it’s finished!

We’ve also been busy talking about how we can improve our diet and lifestyle to be healthier and to better reflect our desires for our family’s life. We want to start making kefir and kombucha, and culturing vegetables, and I want to bake more bread. We want to eat more vegetables and less meat. We want to be more intentional about menu planning and grocery shopping. There is a lot to think about.

Salzburger Stiegl. Braukunst auf hocheter stufe. Es muss ein Steigl sein!

Salzburger Stiegl. Braukunst auf hocheter stufe. Es muss ein Steigl sein!

Two final small exciting things. First, last week we went to the Mustard Seed Market, which is an organic/whole foods type of place. I found bottles of Stiegl beer there! This is a beer I drank while I lived in Austria for three weeks one summer during college. I have never found in the U.S. Never. I was so surprised and excited to find it at Mustard Seed!

Second, one of Agnes’ nurses had a pretty necklace with a charm on it for each of her children and I mentioned that I liked it. Apparently a hospital employee makes the charms and the nurse offered to hook me up. Unfortunately Agnes died before my charms were finished, and I thought that was the end of it. But a couple days ago I got a nice letter in the mail from that nurse with the charms attached. It was so sweet.

So, we’ve been keeping busy and occupying our minds and hands. We still miss Agnes and it is difficult to adjust to being a family of three again, but we are staying busy to help. It is helping.

One charm for each of my children.

One charm for each of my children. The rings are for J.M. and Agnes, both in heaven.

8 Comments »

Grieving Agnes

Grieving for Agnes is a tricky business. For one thing, it is always tragic when a baby dies. We grieve her life but also the life she never got to live. For the second thing, we should be joyful because she is now in heaven in the arms of Mary and Jesus, and that is where we all desire to be and boy, isn’t Agnes lucky to have got there so soon. And for a final thing, now my family has a little saint whose main goal for all eternity is to intercede for us, her family, and help us to be peaceful and holy and ultimately she will help us get to heaven too so we can all be together. And that’s awesome.

But of course, I am still sad. Very sad. Not all the time, and don’t think I just walk around the house crying all the time, because I don’t. It’s more like all I want to do is lay on my bed and stare at the light on the ceiling. I don’t even want to sleep, I’m not sleepy. I certainly don’t want to do anything difficult like take a shower or reheat food for lunch. But I do these things because I have to. I don’t even really want to play with Stephen or give him a bath or sit and eat with him. I do play with him because he brings me joy, but I’m doing it only because I know that if I do, I will probably feel better. I have no drive to do these normal things, but I do them anyway out of obligation. So maybe that means I’m doing okay. I feel like I am doing okay, all things considered.

But I miss Agnes a lot. I regret that I didn’t make more of the time we had with her. I regret not holding her more. I regret that I left her in her crib when she was asleep because I didn’t want to disturb her. I regret cheerfully turning over her care to the night nurse every night she was home. I think about holding her in my arms, especially while she was dying and those are the times I cry.

It is true that Agnes is now in heaven, and she is already being venerated as Saint Baby Agnes by a few people. Isn’t that sweet? When I think about her spirit being with me and helping me to find peace, I do feel peaceful. She was definitely helping me and Jeremy on Wednesday and Thursday while we were at the calling hours and the funeral liturgy. I felt peaceful, and even a little joyful that Agnes is happy with Mary and Jesus and all the saints, hanging out with angels and enjoying a pain free existence. Her life on earth was so hard and I can’t imagine her discomfort every moment. Now she doesn’t have to endure that anymore, and I am happy about that and relieved for her sake.

So I know all these things and I can get through it pretty well when I talk with someone now about Agnes being a saint in heaven and she is “healthy” now, whatever that means for spiritual beings. But it will take a concentrated effort to keep on doing normal stuff. I can guarantee that I will still cry at apparently random times throughout the day for a while. My family can still use all your prayers, and now you can pray to Saint Baby Agnes to intercede on our behalf and to come to our aid.

Now Jeremy and I have two out of three children in heaven as our particular saints. [Most of you may not know that we had a miscarriage early in a pregnancy a few years ago. The baby between Stephen and Agnes]. We don’t know why we have to be so lucky; we wish we weren’t so lucky, but there it is.

Saint Baby Agnes, pray for us. Saint Baby Joseph Mary, pray for us. All you Angels and Saints, pray for us.

3 Comments »

Agnes Will Live in Our Hearts

Here is the official obituary notice that ran in the local paper.

100_1955Agnes Maria Schwager (2013 – 2014)
Our precious angel, Baby Agnes, passed away in the loving arms of her parents, on January 24, at Akron Children’s Hospital. Baby Agnes was born on June 17, 2013 to her parents Jeremy and Judith Schwager. In her short life, Agnes struggled with chronic health problems and was an inspiration to many people. Her support network reached around the globe and was a source of strength to her and her family. Agnes inspired many people to turn to God and pray on her behalf. We will always remember her beautiful smile.
She will be forever missed by her parents, Jeremy and Judith; and brother, Stephen, all of Cuyahoga Falls; grandparents, Michael and Kathy Schwager of California and Tim and Donna Kniss of Cuyahoga Falls; aunt, Sarah Kniss and uncle, David Schwager; cousin, Isabel Schwager; as well as many other family members and friends.
The family would like to offer their sincerest thanks to everyone at Akron Children’s for the compassionate and loving care given to Baby Agnes and family.
The family will receive friends on Wednesday, from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Anthony Funeral Home KUCKO-ANTHONY-KERTESZ CHAPEL, 1990 S. Main St. in Akron. A funeral liturgy will take place on Thursday, at 11 a.m., at the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church, 1866 Brown St., Akron. Memorial contributions may be made to the Palliative Care Unit of Akron, Children’s Hospital, 1 Perkins Square, Akron, OH 44308.
[As an additional note, I would especially like to commend the Palliative Care department at Akron Children’s Hospital. If you feel at all called to make a donation in Agnes’ memory, they are beyond worthy of receiving such a gift. Jeremy and I will never, ever forget the compassion and concern they showed to our family, at the end of Agnes’ life and throughout her entire life.]
3 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: