Laughing, Weeping, Living

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

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.

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Escapades in our New Home

This week dawned bright and early Monday morning. The half-light was stealing beneath the shade, gradually softening the darkness in our room, accompanied by the dulcet tones of the cat throwing up under our bed while we were in it.

So that kind of sets the scene.

We also had the great joy and pleasure to witness water dripping in our kitchen. Not in a friendly and expected location, no. Water from inside the wall was dripping through the window frame and plopping onto the sill. Water that we can only presume has somehow broken free of the confining tile tub surround. So…does this mean no more showers until we get it fixed? I couldn’t say. We are thinking of hanging an extra plastic curtain on the inside wall of the surround to see if that stops the water, but there are actually a number of locations where a crack may have breeched the seal. We knew the bathroom tile was something we would have to do sooner rather than later, but we were not planning to do it this soon. Plus…the available evidence suggests leaking has been a longtime issue, so I’m afraid to think about what the condition of the interior walls may be. I’m sure whatever the case, their condition is going to be expensive.

100_2102100_2103100_2104But there have been lots of fun escapades, too! We went to an early-season yard sale over the weekend and bought a little plastic kids’ bowling set. We took it up to our finished attic that is currently empty since we haven’t decided what to do with it yet. Well, I guess we decided it should be a bowling alley!

We have also been unpacking boxes at a ferocious rate. I told a friend on the phone that we are “almost done” unpacking, except for four or five boxes of knick-knacks, five or six maybe seven boxes of books, oh and all those flat picture boxes that have who-knows-what in them. Yeah, almost done, indeed! Well, we sure are close to being all unpacked considering where we started not even two weeks ago! Our house looks more like a home every day. Our furniture looks really good in this house, almost as if we collected each chair and lamp with the mystical foreknowledge that we would end up in this very house. The wood tone of our bookcases matches the woodwork of the house. Our flower-print rugs coordinate with the existing color schemes. Our big brown sofa that I wanted to slipcover actually looks perfect in the cozy living room, just the way it is. Amazing.

Today Stephen and I had some fun in the neighborhood, too. We went to a local antique store to pick up some housewares that I decided I would rather not buy new. The store was wonderful, had a bit of everything, and I can definitely see myself popping over there any time I need a couple more wine glasses, or a large serving bowl, or some picture frames, or long-handled teaspoons, or a cool tablecloth, or a old-fashioned door handle, or, or, or…

Today I purchased a number of small glass jars and bottles to use for storing spices. Some additional forks, spoons, knives because we only have four of each. Some vintage linen cloth napkins. Four ceramic soup bowls since the only “soup” bowls we have are Christmas-y and melamine. You can’t put that stuff in the microwave. I already thought of some more items I would like to find at an antique store. I recently read a book about “being green” by recycling and reusing antique stuff. It creates waste to buy a new tablecloth, so it is “green” to buy a vintage tablecloth. I can see the truth in that, and I can honestly say I never thought about that aspect of antique/second-hand items. I’ve always just gravitated towards that market because it’s more interesting to me, but now I will do it more intentionally!

Finally, our escapades frequently take us to the local branch of the library, which is within easy walking distance. Even for Stephen! He knows the way, and he always assumes we’re going to the library if we go outside or go for a walk elsewhere around the neighborhood. He is such a cute little bibliophile. His current favorite library book is Wooby and Peep. I like it too. The illustrations are very interesting, and the animal characters are likable. The neighborhood animals appear to be nosy, looking over the fence, and they often have funny comments about the action. There is some subtle humor adults can appreciate, and broader comedy for the kids. I recommend it.

Hopefully our escapades continue more in this fun direction and less in the cat-puke direction. I would appreciate that. Kthxby

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Our “Old House”

93 Casterton photoStephen likes to read this book we found at the library called The Old House. It features an anthropomorphic, run-down house that looks so shabby, no one wants to buy it. In fact, most people think it should be demolished. Obviously this makes the house feel very sad. Then one day a family stops by and thinks they might want to buy the house and fix it up. They do that and the house ends up very happy. Stephen really likes this book and he calls the house we are going to buy “our old house, just like in the book.” We did go over and fix it up a little last weekend, so we’ve reinforced the idea. Stephen is very excited to finally arrive at the moment when we can go over to the old house and walk in without having to wait for someone to let us in. And then we can stay there. Sometimes we drive past the house when we are out and about, and it always makes Stephen sad that we can’t go in. We have to tell him that soon, soon we will be able to go in whenever we want.

And that day will be coming very soon now. The house has finally passed all its inspections and we are clear to organize the closing! Hopefully we can get it done next week, then we can move in to our “old house” and stay there. We went past the house today actually, to spy on the work we hired a contractor to do for the inspection. While we were in the neighborhood, I got excited about how ideal the location will be. We went to lunch at one of the local restaurants and since we had driven down, we had to maneuver the car around the postage stamp-sized parking lot only to discover it was full. When we live in our old house, we will be able to walk to that restaurant. Here is a list of all the things we will be able to walk to from our house:

Restaurants: chinese take out, middle eastern dine-in or take out, pizza by the slice, italian dine-in, subs, mexican, “american” take-out, wally waffle, ice cream, coffee shop. at least.
Services: movie theater, the bank, drug store, library, pet supplies, veterinarian, laundromat, music lessons, tax preparer, grocery store (coming soon!).
Other conveniences: bus stop a block away, park with playground, bar with frequent live music. at least.

The only things not within walking distance are our church and our family physician. We could bike to visit Agnes at Glendale Cemetery or take the bus. That bus stop is very convenient. The line that goes past our street can take us downtown where we can go to street festivals or the minor league baseball games, or the main library branch, or restaurants downtown. That route also goes the other way, out toward Fairlawn where it stops in front of our favorite wine bar where we like to go on dates, the main Acme grocery store, a couple major shopping centers, more and more restaurants and fun services. The only limitation would be the bus schedule, which from what I can see, the bus stops along that route at least every thirty minutes or less. It drove by at least two or three times while we were eating lunch.

We are looking forward to hoofing around much more, and enjoying our great new neighborhood. We have even met our neighbors on both sides and they all seem very nice. There is a young family on one side with a little boy to play with Stephen, and a group of girls who are university students on the other side. Maybe babysitters? Or maybe they’re too busy. We’ll see!

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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.

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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

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“No I’m Not Like a Hobbit”

Earlier this week: (L to R) Me, Jeremy, Jeremy's brother David, Stephen.

Earlier this week: (L to R) Me, Jeremy, Jeremy’s brother David, Stephen.

My precious little boy, Stephen, is really bringing it lately in the verbal department. His thoughts are complex. His pronunciation is good. His vocabulary is impressive.

Tonight I made Stephen a grilled cheese sandwich to eat at 5pm because I knew we would order a pizza later and avoiding toddler meltdown is my primary goal in life. So, Stephen ate a sandwich at 5pm. He also ate some pizza at 7pm when the adults sat down for dinner. My mom remarked, “Stephen, this is your second dinner. You’re like a hobbit!” Stephen became visibly upset and choked out in his crying/whining voice, “No, I’m not like a hobbit; I just had a sandwich!” The rest of us did what we could to refrain from very visibly laughing while I reassured Stephen that being like a hobbit was not a bad thing–no. That it was actually kind of a cute thing for grandma to say…

I don’t think he was convinced.

He has demonstrated some other impressive feats. Little dude can count to twenty. “1, 2, 3, …., 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 11-teen, 19, 20.”

He can compare concepts such as big vs. little. “I’ll give you a little piece of pizza,” I might say (hypothetically). “Stephen can have big piece of pizza,” he may (hypothetically) counter.

He knows all the colors. He doesn’t understand the concept of favorite yet, though.

Stephen can hold a conversation. “Stephen,” I say. “Will you help eat the purple sauerkraut when it is ready?” He replies, “No [wimper]. I’m not eating sauerkraut…[wimper wimper].”

I say, “Stephen, it’s time to come upstairs and take a bath.” He replies (again, this is a hypothetical situation), “No! I’m not going upstairs [sob] I’m going downstairs in family room! [sob].” Or alternatively, on days like today, “Go to bed. I’m not taking a bath. Get animals and go to bed.”

He does use contractions, and for the most part they are correct. His grammar is really very good; he just struggles with some pronunciation. That is mostly just the cutest thing you ever heard. My favorite is “leaves” becomes “weebs.”

So, I’m done bragging about my genius child.

Water kefir. The "grains" are sitting at the bottom of the jar full of sugar water.

Water kefir. The “grains” are sitting at the bottom of the jar full of sugar water.

The other neat things right now are my fermentation projects. My cousin Karin sent me some water kefir starter and I’ve been working with that. These things are weird, let me just say. Apparently the kefir starter is a colony of yeast and bacteria that you can submerse in a jar of sugar water, the kefir grains (called “grains” because that’s what the look like) eat the sugar, leaving you with a fermented beverage. After the grains have done their thing, you strain them out and ferment the water again with a splash of juice or whatever you want. This second ferment can be an opportunity to build up carbonation, making the stuff taste like soda. My first batch was just okay and flat, my second batch failed for whatever reason, and my third batch looks promising. It is in the second fermentation stage right now. I put some fresh ginger in with the stuff so I’m hoping it turns into something like ginger ale flavored water kefir soda.

100_2059

My virgin batch of sauerkraut. Red cabbage and carrot shreds.

I also started some fresh sauerkraut yesterday. So far it is looking good! All you need to do sauerkraut at home is some cabbage, salt, a large wide-mouth container, and time. You shred the cabbage and salt it, then use your hands or a handy kitchen utensil to bludgeon the cabbage until it releases moisture. You want to get it as wet as possible. Then you tamp it down in your container and weight it down with some rocks on a plate or a jar full of water. The goal is to press out all the brine so it covers the cabbage. I did end up adding about a cup of extra salt water brine just to get all my shreds submerged. My kraut is already burbling and starting to smell. I guess that’s good! Personally, I don’t even currently like sauerkraut but I know the fresh stuff is pretty close to the best food for healthy digestion because of all the probiotic cultures. I want to add that kind of thing to my diet, and I’m hoping the taste of kraut will grow on me! Honestly, it was one of the easiest kitchen projects I’ve ever done. I hope it works out!

That’s what is going on around here. Thanks for popping in!

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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.

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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.

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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.]
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Terminal Again

This time it’s real. This time we have been instructed to choose a time and a place before Agnes chooses it for us. This time the treatments they try don’t work. This time her condition declines and never fully recovers, so she loses something each time.

The doctor told us she talked with all the other ICU attendings over the last 48 hours, and they all agree there is nothing more they can do. The doctor told us we are talking in terms of hours or days Agnes has left. The doctor told us the several episodes of Agnes declining are her body telling us she is done.

Agnes is done.

Done.

Now it’s up to us to let her go. We can try to plan for it by preparing a specific time with the pain-killer medicines needed, all the people who we want to be around, for us to be ready and present and not in the bathroom or down in the cafeteria when Agnes leaves this earth. The longer we wait, the likelier it is Agnes will choose her time, and we might not be there, or our priest might not be able to make it in time, or Agnes might suffer more because the medicine she needs to be comfortable won’t be at her bedside.

So.

How do I announce the death of my child before it happens? Doesn’t that seem weird to anyone else? All I can say is, she will probably go before the weekend is over. We tried to explain to Stephen that the angels were coming to take Agnes to live with Mary and Jesus in heaven, but I’m not sure how much he absorbed. We’ll try again. It was good for us to think about the angels, too. Agnes has one foot out the door, and we’ll stay with her and watch until she leaves with the angels.

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