Friday, February 24, 2012

Evaluative Month of February: Blog 4- Letters from Mom & Mimi

(You were the best company when your Dad went away on a work trip for two weeks... we had so much fun including, especially when we went to the aquarium!  I love spending time with you Ellie!)

Dear Ellie,

Well My Dear Girl, this is our last “regular” blog for the year.  After this, we embark on our new adventure of writing you a yearlong bedtime story!  And to stick to tradition, we are including a piece of literature and a recipe that goes along with our evaluation theme.

As you are quite the avid reader this book.  Your Mimi’s book “Where Can They Be?” is one of your favorites these days.  

In fact, you even pause on the dedication page… I wonder if you realize the special words she wrote to your brother.  Sometimes with your passion for books, you ask for up to five bedtime stories (and I often catch you reading alone and saying many of the words out lout from your memory).  

I felt that it would only be appropriate this month to add one of your newer favorite authors, although he is not new to anyone else…  And this particular story is relevant because in order to know where you are heading, you have to evaluate where you are now.

Oh, the Places You'll Go! By Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.

It's opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.


You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don' t
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don't.
Because, sometimes, they won't.

I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.

And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

And now for my recipe.  You know Ellie, especially this month that gives way to so many emotions because of your brother; comfort foot seems to always taste best.  And not just any comfort food, this recipe is from you Great-Gigi.  And you love your Great-Gigi and Great-Pop and skype with them often!

So when you reflect and evaluate your where you are, your position, or a decision you have ahead of you, make a pot of this delicious chicken noodle soup.  It may not fix your problems but I guarantee that it will make you feel satisfied and loved.  

Gigi’s Chicken Noodle Soup
2 Chicken Breasts (Cook for 20 minutes then dice)
Fill Crockpot half full with chicken broth, diced chicken, celery, carrots, onion
Cook on high for 6 hours
Cook noodles on the stove, then add to Crockpot 45 minutes before you eat, add pepper and parsley flakes

My favorite part of the recipe that Gigi gave me says Good luck and if you have a problem, CALL ME (and it says it just like that in all caps).  Yes Ellie, call family if you ever have any problems.

And don’t forget Ellie, a cup of tea is always the best medicine (but only when you drink it with someone you love). 
Love you Ellie Spaghetti,

And now from your Mimi…

Skyping with Mimi and Poppy is still daily for us Ellie- you love them so much!

Hi Ellie!

Well, it is time to finish our February blog.  And the perfect way to do this is with a poem and a recipe that fits with our theme.  I love how your Mom picked Dr. Seuss’ Oh The Places You’ll Go.   A great choice as it is a wonderful story that reminds us that we can travel all over the world and never actually leave our homes.  Books, games and imagination can also take us on trips that will leave us feeling worldly, complete, renewed and at peace. 

With that being said, I chose for my poem selection one of my own writings.
It is called A Butterfly’s Journey.  El, I feel butterflies are one of God’s gentlest creatures with a quiet spirit about them, and I love the symbolic description of what they represent; past souls of those we love.   You see, after your brother Kyle passed away, butterflies seemed to be present where ever I looked.   So now of course when I see one, I think of Kyle, and I also think of my father, as well as my grandmother too, all who I feel very close too.  When I decided to write this poem, as much as it was originally for Kyle, I wanted others to be able to relate and find comfort in its words for those souls that they lost.  So I prayed for guidance in helping me pen the right words that would touch many a heart.  I hope I chose appropriately.  Here it is:

A Butterfly’s Journey
By: Mickey Russell

Good Morning my sweet tiny butterfly
I see your journey’s begun
Your delicate wings shall carry a soul
In travels beyond the sun.

God gave you strength and courage
A gently breeze to fly
Please take our precious treasured soul
Over fields and mountains high.

Rest when weary sweet butterfly
Let children and adults alike
Cast their gaze on your colorful spirit
And pray their loved one’s in flight.

Your purpose will soon be fulfilled
In the Kingdom of God, He awaits
With arms outstretched and a welcoming nod
For a soul seeking comfort from fate.

Good Night my sweet tiny butterfly
I see your journey ends soon
Your delicate wings shall lie down in heaven
Your home beyond the moon.

And now for my recipe!  Ellie, like your Mom, I chose to go with a comfort food too.  Only mine is more for the sweet tooth!  Hopefully you will smile when you see my choice.  I thought this dessert would be something your Mom, you, Great-gram Jones and myself could make together during our visit.  And of course we could then each have a piece of this delicious cake with our tea and share stories of family members past and present!  Oh there are so many stories for you to hear Ellie!  But for now, here is my recipe:

The Butterfly Cake
Serves 8 to 10
               1 (9-inch) round cake
               1 can (16 oz) vanilla frosting
               Blue food coloring*
               Granulated white sugar
               16 colorful gumdrops
               Yellow and purple Spree candies
               Yellow and green M&M's Minis
               6 yellow M&M's
               5 green gumdrops
               1 green Twizzler

What you'll need:
               A bread knife
               A serving platter
               1 resealable sandwich-size plastic bag (Ziploc)
               A cutting board or a clean work surface

Trimming the cakes:
1.             Using a bread knife, cut the cake in half along the diameter to make 2 half circles. Cut a 1 ½-inch triangular notch from both cut sides, 2 ½ inches from the bottom (see template). Discard scraps.
2.             Transfer cake to a serving platter, putting the curved edges of the cake up against each other to form the butterfly wings.
For the blue frosting:
1.             Spoon ½ cup of the vanilla frosting into a bowl. Add enough food coloring to tint the frosting a dark blue. Spoon the colored frosting into a resealable plastic bag.
2.             Add a smaller amount of blue food coloring to the remaining vanilla frosting to tint it a lighter shade. Spread the light-blue frosting over the butterfly cake and make smooth.
3.             Snip a very small corner from the bag of dark-blue frosting. Pipe an outline of dark-blue frosting along the edges of the butterfly wings, as pictured.
For the butterfly-wing design:
1.             Spread the granulated sugar onto a cutting board or a clean work surface. Press 4 of the colorful gumdrops together and roll out.
2.             Cut the rolled-out gumdrops into a large teardrop shape, as pictured. Repeat with the remaining gumdrops so you have two matching teardrop shapes.
3.             Press the other gumdrops together in pairs. Roll out each pair of gumdrops until flat. Then cut out two 2-inch circles, two 1 ½-inch circles, and two 1-inch circles.
4.             Arrange the gumdrop cutouts, M&M's, and Spree candies all around the butterfly cake to create your own masterpiece!

Can I just tell you Ellie-bean that your Mommy and I are quite proud of ourselves at this very moment!  You see, she and I love new endeavors especially if we can experience them together.  But after a few attempts and more times than not, we usually quit whatever it is that we just started only to move on to something fresher, newer, and more exciting!  However, with our Blog endeavor, we actually completed 52 solid weeks of blog writing to you and that is such a great accomplishment for us!  So I think when your Mom and I get together at the beginning of March we shall slide our tea aside and toast our first year’s Blog success to you with a glass of champagne!  Then we shall return to our teacups and invite you to join us precious child!  For we will need to brainstorm our characters for our up and coming 2nd adventure of Ellie and the Magic Teapot that will kick off the start of our second year of weekly writing to you!  Partner writing another bedtime story with your Mom is one of my greatest pleasures Ellie.  I so hope you enjoy them each and every year you grow! 

I think the lesson to be learned here El is to keep the spirit within your soul. And remember, guidance always comes to those who ask.

Till next week Adventurous One!
Love Mimi

Friday, February 17, 2012

Evaluative Month of February: Blog 3- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Ellie,

Tomorrow marks a very special day in our family… it is Kyle’s birthday.  Kyle’s birthday is always difficult for me, even more than his death day.  I promise to always celebrate today with you and with your Dad as Kyle brought family together.  As I evaluate our time with Kyle, I reread pieces of the book I wrote about my experience.  Here are the final chapters that I wrote.  I am going to ask your Mimi to copy those emails she wrote to friends and family during Kyle’s 11 days.  She documented that time much more beautifully than I ever could.  I hope, between our two versions (although being delivered backwards), it will give you a glimpse of who Kyle was, how he changed us, and how precious life is.    

In the days after Kyle’s death, we mourned in the way any parent who lost a child would mourn.  We were overcome by emotions but Justin and I learned to grow together and lean on one another.  Kyle would never have wanted to come between us and really in the end, he strengthened our marriage.  Those hours, weeks, and months after were healing as we reflected on our very traumatic experience.  Justin and I chose to remain extremely private in the time leading up to Kyle’s death and it was a process for us to get back involved in our daily lives.  Justin went back to work almost immediately.  For me, because of my c-section, I had a few more weeks off of school.   

My mom stayed with us until March 20, the day after my birthday.  We put together 47 beautiful pages in a scrapbook that detailed Kyle’s journey from the beginning.  It took us two weeks but it may be the most priceless item I own. 

My mom is my best friend in the whole world (aside from Aunt Ally) and now because of Kyle we will be linked in spirit more than we were before.  I will forever be indebted to her for what she gave us.  She calls Kyle her baby and truly he was.  My mom came out to Denver for a week in November after our initial bad prognosis.  She came out with the family at Christmas knowing I couldn’t travel.  She spent almost two months with us that overlapped Kyle’s birth and death and she experienced Kyle’s entry and exit in the world with Justin and I.  She was with us every step of the way.  She grieved as a mother who lost her own child and she grieved as a mother whose daughter was hurting.  When I look back, I think about how devastating this must have been for her, watching her child lose a child without being able to fix it.  I think about all the days before she came out that I spent crying to her on the phone because I was so afraid.  I chose to call her because I didn’t want Justin to feel more pain, seeing me more visibly upset.  She must have been beside herself and just as sick as Justin and I were with worry.  When I couldn’t talk, she knew what to say to make me smile.  She cooked, cleaned, and helped me in immeasurable ways when Justin and I were at the hospital with Kyle.  Even more, we leaned on her emotionally.  Kyle loved her soothing voice when she read and sang to him (that’s when he was the most animated).  He found her presence just as comforting as we did.  

She didn’t really cry much in front of us after his death but now, months later, she does.  I think she had to make sure that we were ok before she could show us her emotions.  When she watches Kyle’s DVD or talks about her favorite memory today, she has tears.  She carries Kyle’s pictures, laminated 4x6’s, in her wallet.  She truly is the proud Mimi.  I think Kyle defined us, two mothers, who lived a lifetime in 11 days.  I love my mom and I wonder where she found the strength to write such a beautiful biography of Kyle in those emails to friends and family keeping them up-to-date.  Her perspective in the midst of her grief is so profound and shows the true nature of her being.  Her emails are a priceless gift, words that I will cherish.  They chronicle memories I may have forgotten.                   

My dad came out again to help me celebrate my birthday after Kyle’s death.  Kyle also changed him.  My dad is a perfectionist and yet he too loved Kyle’s imperfections.  

My dad always whispered to Kyle that he would take him to Disney World if he got better.  He never got to Disney but Kyle did taste the ocean because my dad’s salty tears were always all over him.  I think like the rest of us, my dad didn’t care if Kyle could walk right or talk correctly; my dad just wanted him to grow up with us.  Mind you, my dad was also was extremely protective.  My dad asked me to make a promise to him on his first visit to meet his grandson, that we would not keep Kyle alive for selfish reasons and to please make sure that Kyle felt no pain.  My dad’s birthday present to me was to help keep Kyle’s name alive by setting up a scholarship through my high school at home.  I think Kyle would have liked that because Kyle was all about bringing out the best in people, making us strive to be better.  My dad’s heart was always big but I think Kyle stretched it out a little further.

With my Mom still in Denver, my aunt, grandmother, and cousin come out over my birthday weekend to lift my spirits. 

And then my best friend Ally flew out for a week so I could show off pictures of my son.  Justin and I took a long weekend trip away to Mexico at the beginning of April.  

It was the best vacation, like a second honeymoon, and we spent a lot of the time talking about Kyle but not in a sad way, in a very happy way.  It was eventually time to return to work and my students.  Life goes on and we must move forward, forever changed.

Kyle’s autopsy results came back inconclusive.  We may never know what happened and in many ways, this is a blessing.  If the doctors had found a genetic link, Justin and I would have to consider this when having other children.  We are satisfied knowing Kyle was an anomaly.  Because really, that’s what he was on so many levels.


Kyle was a teacher, just as I think all children are.  We learn so much more from them than they do from us.   I don’t feel resentment when I reflect on our experiences with Kyle, nor do I ask why this happened to us.  I know that we were chosen to carry Kyle because we are strong.  God only gives us as much as we can handle.  Children are gifts and are here to make us better people, to learn more about ourselves, about selflessness, and about love.  If you raise your child and not see this, then you missed the point of life all together.  There is a lesson intended to be learned from children and never should they be taken for granted. 

I feel honored that we were chosen to be Kyle’s parents, to have known an angel.  I told Justin the other day that I do believe that we witnessed a miracle, a baby that should never have lived to see birth.  Justin agreed but took it further to say that we were blinded by a miracle, that we never saw Kyle for his tubes and wires and machines, we saw him as a newborn baby that needed to be taken care of.  Looking back at pictures, we often wondered how we had any hope at all.  Most of Kyle’s body was connected to machines.


And believe it or not, Kyle brings us laughter today too.  We still talk about his one crazy foot that was seemingly double-jointed and reminded me of a tree frog.  

All of his imperfections made him perfect to us.  We chuckle when we remember my dad bringing in the giant stuffed Mickey Mouse and stroking one-day-old-Kyle’s arm with Mickey’s big white gloved paw.  Because premature babies get over-stimulated very easily, this sent Kyle into distress setting off all of his alarms.  The nurse informed us that we could only touch Kyle and leave our fingers there grasping his.  Tickling and massaging were irritating to him.  Three days later, Justin and I came in when Kyle’s nurse was using a tub of baby lotion and rubbing it all over Kyle’s head.  Justin’s eyes were bugging out of his head, and he whispered to me, “Didn’t she get the memo?”  I guess after a few days, newborns get used to sensations and you can touch them as you would any baby.  These are the stories we are grateful for because Kyle showed us that laughter really is a medicine in itself. 

I could write another book on all of the wrong things to say at a time of devastation.  The worst question that both Justin and I have had to field is exactly how Kyle died.  To those people, we say that God took Kyle.  Kyle was sick and he was in pain.  I feel blessed that Justin, our mothers, and I were able to be with Kyle for his last breath.  How many people can say that in death they felt the warmth of the people that loved them the most?  Really though, Justin and I were never alone and nor did we feel that we were.  Kyle and God, with the support of family and friends, led us down the path that although ended in tears, those were shed in happiness- happiness that we got to know love at its core.  Human nature is to want more and we did want more than 11 days but we feel blessed that we had even one.     

I am not afraid of death.  I never really thought about dying before, and I certainly don’t want to die but now I have a different perspective.  If it’s my time to go tomorrow, I get to see my son again.  Life isn’t just about loss but cycles.  I believe that we are here to better ourselves and better the world around us and if we don’t complete our purpose, we will be back again in another form.         

Kyle lives on in us and around us every second of every day.  I share the scrapbook that we made because it is this story in picture form.  I want people to know Kyle how we knew him.  For a baby who didn’t even weigh five pounds or couldn’t speak, he sure did change lives and continues to do so through the memorial services that are set up in his name.  We miss Kyle and he will never be forgotten. 

I wait for Kyle in my dreams, it was my third and last request of him (I only asked Kyle for three things.  The first to cry when he was born so I knew he was alive, which he did.  

The second to open his eyes before he died, and he did and they were beautiful- deep blue like the deepest depths of the ocean.)  

And I know I will see him again because we never said good-bye, just see you later.

Three years later…

Kyle is still living on in us.  After raising nearly $40,000 for the scholarship in Kyle’s name, we are continuing our annual 5K Run/Walk this July.  We are in awe of how generous people are when they tell us how our son touched them. 

Ellie, you are a beautiful healthy girl who looks like your brother when your eyes are closed.  And even though Kyle hasn’t appeared to me in a dream yet, I know he comes to you.  That first year after you were born, you were my serious daughter who rarely smiled while awake, yet you would smile all the time in your sleep.  As a newborn, you would always grab my Kyle locket and simply hold it as you slept.  

And you still look up and wave or say Kyle’s name, usually during quiet times at night.  Kyle is with you as he is with us.

I love you Ellie, just as I loved your brother.

And now from your Mimi…

Ellie… I have no introduction leading into my blog this week.  Instead, I will let my letters of Kyle speak in its place.  I hope when you read them; you will understand that every word written came from deep within my heart.   I love you Ellie-bean.

February 19, 2009

Hi Everyone,

Yesterday was a very long, exhausting and emotional day.  I think I told you that Kyle Russell Callahan weighed in at 4 lbs 4 oz. and is 14 1/2 inches long.  He is absolutely beautiful but he is also very sick.  There are definitely complications.  The doctors were surprised he made it through the 1st 4 hours and told the kids that they did not hold out much hope that he would get through the night.  But miraculously he did!  

He is on a ventilator as his lungs are tiny.  That is one of many issues... but hopefully a lot of the tests are in today and we will know more.  Kimberly was able to see him about 3 times.... not for long though.... but it seemed to ease her mind some.  

I don't know if I told you or not, but the kids asked me to come into the operating room with them.  

I was able to witness the most amazing miracle.... the birth of my grandson.  I am still in awe!  This little guy is a true fighter.... (he must have a lot of Russell blood in him!).... So I continue to ask you all to keep Kim, Justin, and Kyle in your prayers.  He is nowhere near being out of the woods yet.... but I think he is going to show us that each day is truly a gift!  We are on our way to the hospital now. More later.
Love Mickey

February 23, 2009

Hi Everyone,

I am sorry that I did not update through the weekend.  There hasn't been a time to just sit down and write.  As most of you know lots of family members came out, so it has been quite busy.

Today Kyle celebrated his 5th day birthday, and he is now working towards his 6th.  We only take one day at a time.  Again, Kyle's team of nurses and doctors are amazed at his strong will to survive, but are still working towards trying to figure out what exactly is wrong.  Kimberly and Justin are patiently waiting to hold him..... Hopefully today will be that magical day.  The nurses are going to try and change his ventilator to one that will accommodate Kyle snuggling in his parents’ arms.  Please pray that he does not have difficulty making that transition.  The kids will meet with Kyle's "team" everyday at 10:30 am to get updates on his prognosis, possible diagnosis (which they still do not have), and hopefully guidance. Today he is again stable, and we pray that continues.   I know Kyle had gained some weight since his birth... and believe it or not in his case, that is a bad thing.  By yesterday afternoon though, he was very close to being back to his original birth weight, 4lb. 4 oz.... that is a good thing.  Saturday was not a good day.... in fact it was a very scary day, but I will not go into that.  Eddie read him the book called "I Love You So...." and we were all a blubbering mess.  He also brought Kyle a huge Mickey Mouse stuffed animal and promised to take him there as soon as he gets better.  If and when that day comes, I can already imagine Kyle having flashback nightmares of a gigantic mouse hovering over his incubator.... he will probably be the only child in Disney World that is afraid of Mickey Mouse!  I wish I could give you more of an update, but they are having a hard time drawing blood from Kyle, so progress is a little slower.  

He is so beautiful though and he does respond to voices.  He loves to be talked to and sung to.  (I tried singing "I Love My Teddy bear" to him and he didn't cover his ears... so I look at that as a good thing!)  Today I am going to read him the book I wrote even though it is not complete yet... (Kyle won't know that though.)  Kimberly and Justin are amazing.  I call them the Lioness and the Lion... for they are very protective of their little "cub".  Kimberly came home from the hospital late yesterday... leaving him is very hard for her.... remember the hospital is 40 minutes away.  They went back last night to say goodnight to him and starting today they are going to figure out a routine.  I do worry a little that Kimberly will overdue it with the C-section... but I will continue to encourage her to rest.  I am also trying to make their lives easier around the house and with the animals.  I will join them at noon today, take them to lunch and go see the baby myself.  I still ask you all for continued prayers as our precious little baby still has so very far to go.

I do love you all for your concerns and your thoughtfulness.  And I will keep you posted as best I can.
Love Mickey

February 26, 2009

Good Morning Everyone,     

Here is my latest update on Kyle.  Today he has made it to his 8th day birthday.... he is truly an amazing little guy.  I don't know how many more day birthdays he has, so we are enjoying every one we have with him.  Since my last update on Monday a couple of "good things" have happened and a lot of "not so good things" have happened.  I shall intertwine the both in my day-by-day story of Kyle. In my last update the kids still had not had the luxury of holding him close to their heart.  Well that all changed on Tuesday.  When we first went in to see him, they had put him in a beautiful little green suit, which hid all his wires and tubes.  Even though Kyle is only 33 and 1/2 weeks old, he looked like a healthy newborn.   

His nurses were able to change his ventilator to a more "flexible" one so that Kyle could be moved from his incubator.  With that being said, Kimberly and Justin were able to hold him in their arms (not on an inflatable bed)... which gave them pure joy.  

We all thought that was a "gigantic" baby step in the right direction.  We couldn't have been more wrong.  That same day in the afternoon, Kyle's "team" along with the head nephrologist at Children's Hospital of Denver had a meeting with the kids.  Because of Kyle's multiple issues, they were told that he is not a candidate for dialysis or a kidney transplant.  They believe Kyle's lungs will not develop and he probably will never come off a ventilator.  This news was devastating.  The kids have much to think about.  As hard as that was to hear, Kim and Justin (who are the most amazing and loving parents) were able to put it aside for the time being and again enjoy Kyle for the moment at hand.  I came in to see him that afternoon and again read to him.  Oh by the way, I believe he loved the story that I wrote.  
I say this because as I read it to him, he responded to all my expressive tones in the funniest way.  Kyle has not opened his eyes yet.... and during my reading he would lift his eyelids up as though he were trying to unstick the sleepers from his eyes and his forehead would have all those deep furrowed lines in it like a little old man.  I said to Kim that instead of getting the "thumbs up" approval, from Kyle I got the "eyes up" approval.  That is good enough for me!  Kim and Justin spent the evening with him, stroking his soft skin, kissing his velvety head and just loving him as much as they could.  Now comes yesterday.  It started off wonderful and turned into another scary day.  When we went in, the nurse let Justin hold Kyle in a recliner so that Kyle was lying on Justin's chest.  Kim and I had the wonderful pleasure of watching this experience for more than an hour.  Kim read to him as she always does and said her prayers with her hand lovingly on Kyle's.  I also read to him the book "In Grandma's Arms.”   Kyle seems to be quite content with all the lavished attention he gets and he also seems to love all the nicknames we've given him.  Our favorites for him are....Justin calls him "My Little Buddy"..... Kimberly calls him "My Beautiful Little Mess" and I call him "My Love."  Later in the afternoon when Tina, his nurse, asked Justin how much more time did he want to hold him..... Justin teared up and whispered "forever".  Yes.... there were many tears.  My heart aches for my children and for my grandchild.   And that quickly Kyle had some difficulty breathing... lots of nurses came and were able to stabilize him.  It was an extremely scary moment.  I think Kyle is preparing Kim and Justin.  This beautiful, loving, and selfless baby is giving them time, time that they need.  I've been up for a while already this morning and watched the sun come up and it is breathtaking... just like Kyle is.  Today we shall again go to the hospital and see what Kyle has in store for us.  I know he will give us another story to tell.

So again I ask you all for your continued prayers.  I have changed mine some.  I still pray to God for a miracle.... that Kyle will be healed and able to come home with his parents.  But if that is not meant to be, I pray to God to heal Kyle and take him home with him.  In either home Kyle will be loved with a love like no other.
Love Mickey

February 28, 2009

Good Morning Everyone,

Here is my latest update on Kyle.

As I told you all, Kyle will have a story for us to share.  And sure enough he does... this one will be in our memories forever.  As it has been with Kyle, this story starts off wonderful and ends on a not so good note.  Let me start from the beginning.  First of all Eddie (Pop-pop), and Kyle's Uncle Ryan came to visit him Thursday afternoon.  Ryan had a minor eye accident in State College (he is ok), but he needs to wear sunglasses for a few days because of the sensitivity.  Needless to say, so does Kyle.  Only Kyle looks way cooler.  When he is laying on his tummy in his incubator with the belirubin lights on and his (ray-bands) covering his eyes, Kyle looks like he is self-tanning.  We've nicknamed Uncle and Nephew Mr. and Mr. Hollywood!   

Each of us then read a book to Kyle.  Ryan read first.... he read Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham.... and during the reading Ryan tried to analyze the book that to him didn't really make any sense!  Eddie read to Kyle next and his choice of book was "How Much Do I Love You".  He always cries when he reads to Kyle but that's what makes his readings extra special.  Lastly, I read to Kyle.  And I chose a book "Five Silly Monkeys" that also had a hand puppet to go with the story. (For me it was easier to read the book than it was to maneuver each finger monkey!)  Maybe that was because my fingers weren't quite long enough to hold up each big monkey head!!!  No matter.... Kyle just loves the voices and the noise that we all make.  That was Thursday.  Yesterday morning Justin tried going to work for a couple of hours in the morning.  It was extremely hard for him, but I truly think it was the best thing for him to do.  Kim, Ed, Ryan and I went on to the hospital.  When we walked in we asked Lori, Kyle's nurse, if he opened his eyes yet.  She said "No" but felt it would happen soon as he has been trying to open them for a few days now.  Well, Kimberly took off her coat, laid it and her pocketbook over on the cupboard and walked over to her sweet little baby boy.  She gently stroked his face and softly spoke to him as only a mom could do and just like that, he peeked at her with one eye and then the other.  He followed her voice and never took his eyes from hers.  

Yes.... more tears again.  Then to our surprise, Kimberly wanted to share the "holding of Kyle" with me.  

Can I just tell you that I have been blessed with a small taste of heaven.... and it is the sweetest memory I will ever hold.  I went ahead and sat in the recliner... Lori put Kyle in my arms... and for what I wished would be an eternity... I sang to him, I held him, I kissed him and just stared in awe at those beautiful eyes that stared back at me.  But while all this was going on, Kyle's tube separated and again he stopped breathing.  Many nurses and doctors came and were able to get Kyle stable again.  I thought we would have to go but Lori said "Oh no, you can hold him again."  Well, the selfish part of me wanted to take advantage of the moment, but the unselfish part of me was a little bit stronger and I told Kyle's Pop-pop to sit in the chair... he needed to hold him too.  

Eddie looked so perfect in the Pop-pop role.  He gave him dozens of kisses and held him as tight as Kyle's wires and tubes would allow him to.  I didn't think he would ever let Kyle go.   Around noontime Lori gently lifted Kyle from Ed and put him back in his incubator.  He seemed a little agitated but we assumed it had to do with all that Kyle was now processing.  Between each of our loving voices and now his seeing images, he was quite an active little one on his bed.  Ed, Ryan and I left so as to let the kids spend the afternoon with him themselves.  Kimberly said that it was pure bliss.  Again, Justin held him all afternoon and Kimberly just watched.  She said she could never get tired of doing this... it brought her so much happiness.  Late yesterday evening Ryan voiced a thought that held a lot of meaning and emotion.  He said, "Not many people can say that the only emotion that they have ever known in their lifetime is love, unconditional love.  And for Kyle that is all he knows."  Ryan couldn't have said it any better.  Kyle is blessed with all the love of family, of friends, and of course God.  During the night or rather very early this morning, Kim and Justin got a phone call from the hospital.  They think (not 100 percent sure) that Kyle might have pneumonia.   I am not sure what that means for Kyle, but I do know that every moment he gives us is one that we cannot take for granted.  The kids are with him now.   Eddie just went to Best Buy and bought the kids a video camera.  We are going to take it to them soon.  I wished we would have thought of it earlier.... but better now than not at all.  Kyle has taught us so much.  But I will save that for the next story.  He is our little blessing.  And I/We love him so very, very much.

Please keep him and the kids in your prayers.  And pray for peace too.
We love you all.

March 1, 2009

Dear Friends,

It is important that I start this e-mail with a thank you.  I want to thank all of our family, all of our friends and all friends of friends for all of your prayers, all of your love, and all of your kindness.  Kimberly, Justin, Ed and myself feel truly blessed with how you've all been there for us.  Our hearts are filled with an abundance of gratitude and an abundance of love in return.  Each and every one of you truly means the world to us.  Thank you.

Now comes the difficult part.

Today was Kyle's eleventh day birthday.  He had a difficult night last night and his breathing was again very labored this morning.  Lori his nurse increased his pain medication to calm him.  It worked sporadically as he needed to be suctioned every half hour.  Today they had him dressed in a beautiful deep blue suit and swaddled in a pale yellow blanket that was as soft as a bunny rabbit.  

I thought green was Kyle's color but after today, I am not so sure.  We followed our typical routine of this past week..... the kids went to the hospital early and spent time with Kyle by themselves for a few hours.  We then joined them around noon.  Kim and Justin had taken turns cradling Kyle in their arms.  We knew this would be a hard day as when we arrived, their faces were wet with tears.  But through their tears you could see their happiness along with sadness.  You could see a love that is only felt by a parent along with pain.  You could see the hope they had for Kyle along with the gratefulness of time they were given with Kyle.   When one held Kyle for a time, they would openly and lovingly give Kyle to the other. They took turns never taking more than they needed.  I think Kyle may have learned his selflessness from his parents.  I must tell you how proud I am of both Kimberly and Justin.  They never lost faith... if anything, they seemed to have gained strength from it.  Shortly after we arrived, Lori told us all that Kyle did not have much time.  So everyone visiting made sure he had oodles of kisses to take with him.  I decided to read to him, as I knew it would be my last time to have this honor.  I first chose the book  "I Love My Mommy Because" for Kimberly.   She is officially blessed and forever to be a 'Mom' whether it be for 11 days, 11 years or longer.  I wanted to acknowledge her new role.   I then read "I Love You Through and Through" which just seemed appropriate because I knew he would be leaving us soon.  And lastly I read to him his favorite book "Guess How Much I Love You" (which in reality is his mom’s favorite book!)  It is so befitting as Kimberly always ends our conversations with "I love you to the moon and back."  As the afternoon wore on and Kyle lay nestled in his parents’ arms, he would smile... and smile again... and smile again.  I was told many years ago that when a newborn baby smiled, it meant an angel had just kissed them.   And if that story is really true, then many angels came today and lavished many kisses all over Kyle's beautiful little face.  And maybe, just maybe they were preparing him for his new journey to heaven.  As Kyle continued to grow weary, everyone quietly left.  The kids asked Justin's mom and myself to stay behind with them as Kyle slowly slipped away.  Kimberly's "Perfectly Beautiful Little Mess" and Justin's "Little Buddy" went "Home" where there are no wires or tubes, where nothing is broken but only whole and where only love and happiness exist at 4:45 pm today.  My children allowed me to hold him one last time and while doing so the tears finally came.  Lots and lots of tears.  Remember the story about the little boy who took his finger out of the hole in the dyke and the floods came?  Well, that would have been me.  But I need to tell you that my tears of sadness were also mixed with many tears of happiness.... for at that moment I realized that Kyle took me full circle.  You see, I was honored in witnessing the miracle of his birth, I was given 11 days of being his (Mimi) and giving him all of my love as well as receiving all of his,  And I was given the chance to kiss him goodbye as he took his last breath.  Kyle taught me, actually all of us many lessons.  The first would be how faith plays such an important part in each of our daily lives...  how all of your prayers and all of your love helped to bring Kyle this far as no one expected him to survive past birth.  Second would be Patience.  Kyle taught us to savor each and every small moment... not to jump ahead or we just might miss one of life's simplest pleasures.  Third would be Family.  Kyle taught us that in times of difficulty we should cleanse old wounds and lean on each other for strength.  Fourth would be Love.  Kyle taught us all about unconditional love.... that it is easy to give as well as receive as long as you take away all stipulations.  Love has no rules, no conditions.  Love is just   And the fifth would be Thankfulness.  Kyle taught us a lesson in never taking anything for granted... to be thankful for each day we are given... to take the talents bestowed upon us and use them to the best of our ability.... to rest at the end of the day.... so as to be refreshed to start again.... a new day to be thankful for. 

When we came home this evening, Kimberly and Justin wanted a dinner to celebrate Kyle's life.  We had much to share.  Eleven days with Kyle gave us an eternity of memories. And here is where I shall end my story.... with one of our last memories.  As Kimberly, Justin, Sharon and I left the NICU at St. Joseph Hospital, we walked down to the chapel to say prayers for Kyle. Kimberly and I had been doing this all along and always the chapel was quiet and peaceful.  Today though, as we quietly knelt and said our prayers, the chapel's choir bells went off loud and long.  We all looked at each other and giggled.  You see, all week in the NICU, the "bells and whistles" on Kyle's monitors were constantly going off.  It got to a point where we all started joking that Kyle was doing it on purpose because he loved to hear those noises.  Well, when it happened in the chapel, we took it as a sign that he found his way to heaven's door.  God has taken Kyle home with him.  What better way to tell us than with the bells and whistles of the chapel?  You see, Kyle is love.  Love is Kyle.

Love and Peace to you all.

Ellie... Each of our lives is made up of seconds.  If we are so blessed, those seconds can lead into minutes.  And those minutes can lead into hours, then into days, followed by months and years.  For those of us that God so graciously gifted “time”…. we should use it wisely.  It is not ours to waste.  For a life to come full circle, he or she’s purpose needs to be fulfilled.   So never be afraid to hope, to dream, to laugh, to cry, to love, to hurt, to ask a question, or to be questioned.  Never be afraid of success, a mistake, a risk, or a comfort.  And never, never be afraid to say the words “I love you.”  Say them loud, say them often and always say them from your heart!  You precious child have already touched so many, especially me.  Find your purpose Ellie and make God proud.


Next week we will close February’s blog with a poem and a recipe befitting to our theme.
Till then
Love Mimi