Thursday, December 8, 2016

Your Year In Review

Dear Facebook - 
Although I generally love your cute little video's and applications you come up with the year in review makes me want to hurl something. It makes me so happy to see all the photo's of the last year which encompass many of Jude's illness and funeral, not. It makes me even more happy to see how great everyone's life is and how happy everyone is. Actually that part does make me smile but I cannot help feeling jealous of their happiness. If I sound like a scrooge, well whatever.  - Love Jenn

Emily has sent her college applications off and I know she was so nervous about receiving responses. She sent applications to Arkansas, Alabama, OU, OSU, and Texas A&M. Her number 1 is A&M and I hear they are always the last to respond. I can happily announce her first acceptance letter from Arkansas arrived Tuesday. Then yesterday she was accepted into the University of Alabama and into their nursing program. We will see which others she receives and she will make an announcement some time next year. I cannot believe she will be going away. I know she will only continue to grow and inspire others but my house will be very quiet without her. 

We have decided to spend Christmas with our little family at home. We will have breakfast and spend time with Emily before she goes with her dad and then we will venture to see Jude. We feel it will be an emotional day and that we will feel drained and prefer not to drain anyone else. However we are having a balloon release for Jude on Christmas Eve at our house where we hope to spend time with family and friends. 

We appreciate everyone's continued support. Saturday night nurse Allan has invited us over for dinner. I am truly looking forward to seeing him and giving him a big hug! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

8 Years

It's been eight years since Jude was diagnosed. Eight years ago since we learned our adorable bouncing baby boy wasn't going to be the child we thought he would be. Eight years since we learned what an amazing blessing the child was we actually had. 

Eight years seems like yesterday. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The final Miss Texas Teen

The holiday weekend is over and Emily competed for her 5th and final time at Miss Texas Teen USA. As you remember after Jude passed, literally the day after, Emily announced on stage at Miss Dallas that she would be competing again. It was a shock to us but she said if Jude never gave up then she wasn't either. I love her determination. So Emily's father Joe loaded her up on Thanksgiving night and they drove to Houston. Mike and I caught a Southwest flight on Saturday and made it to Houston mid afternoon. I missed seeing her in swimsuit preview and seeing her before she went into interview but she sent me pictures. Friends that were in attendance also sent me video's. The holiday again wasn't easy. I missed Jude and I missed his nurses. I missed loading Jude and Allan up and heading to Houston with our dogs and all of Jude's medical equipment in tow. I missed running up to the room to kiss Jude before we watched Emily's events but I can say without a shadow of a doubt I felt Jude there with us. In fact as Mike and I went nervously into finals Mike opened his phone and there was a picture of Jude. As they called the top 15 out of 113 girls I looked down at Mike's phone and saw Jude's smiling face. Then we heard "You're not dreaming it's Fort Worth - Emily Lites!" I literally screeched...........forgive me if you were there, lol! We were thrilled. Emily finally had the opportunity to compete in the top 15 and it was well deserved. She looked stunning this past weekend and we are very proud. Emily's adorable friend Kirby captured the title. We truly enjoyed the weekend with wonderful friends and family. The family took a break this year and didn't fly or drive back until Monday. It was nice not to rush, fight traffic going home, and sleeping in a bit before we left. 

I have had questions this year about how pageants must be full of drama and many misconceptions usually brought on by the media. So I thought I would tell my perspective of the last few years. I have seen Emily grow from this experience through each success and through each disappointment. I have seen her form lasting friendships with the girls, director, and sponsors. I have seen girls literally take their jewelry and competition items off to lend them to a girl who had something break so they could quickly go on stage only to hand it right back so the lender could then hit the stage (not even kidding). I have seen girls bring spare items just in case someone needed it. This came in handy when a girl accidentally burnt her swimsuit with a curling iron and another girl handed her a very expensive swimwear so she could compete.   I remember the first time Emily stepped into teen competition we attended a meeting at Miss America. Emily ended up choosing the USA but at that meeting they told us to look around that at least one or more of your bridesmaids will be in this room. The friendships they make are that strong. 

The girls train all year long. Emily exercises so she can compete in swimwear (which is being changed next year to athletic wear which I prefer). She then generally meets with interview coaches twice a month who also help her mentally prepare. They go over public speaking, current events, and being confident in yourself. One of the best pieces of advice she received through training was " Once you compare yourself to someone else you have already lost because you are your own person." Emily has to keep her grades up, watch her social media posts to make sure they are acceptable, and she cannot immerse herself in any negative situations. The girls have multiple lessons for all phases of competition. It's a lot of work! It's not just showing up one day on a stage and smiling. I was a tomboy when I was a little girl. I loved fishing, hunting, and anything outdoors. I never dreamed my daughter would compete in the Miss USA system but it's been a blast. I am not sure if Emily will go on to compete in miss but if she decides she wants to in the future we will continue to support her. Here are some of her proofs from the weekend. 

We missed this little face and I so wish he was there to wear Emily's little button and cheer on his sister but I am sure he was in spirit. My heart still hurts very much and I am still trying to make it through each day with a forced smile but I know Jude loves us and is our angel. I am not sure how Christmas will go but we are trying to march forward. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dear Parents of the Chattanooga Bus Crash

I read the article and watched the story of the fatal bus crash and my heart broke for you. I turned to the loss forum I am on and posted that I was in tears and how I fully expected to see the parents of these children start to filter into our group, they always do. Each time a new member joins our heart break a little more but we all know the group is needed. Each time the world hears of a tragedy the parents of that tragedy find their way to our forum. 

I know your pain this morning following the death of your child. I know that you will be sitting in a funeral home in shock. You will look around taking in all the decorations within the facility and wonder what comes next. You will wonder how your brain will be strong enough to function to make the decisions to lay your child to rest. You will wonder if cremation or burial is best and then wonder why you even have to think about such a thing. As the funeral director speaks your try to understand everything he is asking you so you can make the best decision possible, but you realize you keep drifting off due to exhaustion. You may wonder why you are not crying and realize you are just sitting in some awful haze, like the surrounding world is not real. Trust me that the tears will come in time. We found some sort of strength in the immediate days that followed Jude's death and quickly planned everything we needed for his funeral. I can share the things that helped our family and maybe it will help you. 

We made sure we requested private time with our son so we could have time with him before family and friends showed up. We did this before and after his services. So whether you have a viewing or not you can spend some quiet time together. There are no rules when it comes to the loss of a child. If you need to break down, break down. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Many people are wanting to help you right now so let them make plans, provide you food, and help with your house. If you want private time ask them to leave and they will kindly oblige. I slept in Jude's bed after he passed just to be close to him. My husband and I then took off to Santa Fe because I couldn't stand the stillness of the house. Do what's best for you right now because the days ahead are long and hard. Your grief will never go away and I have been told the second year is actually worse than the first. Know there are many of us like you out here and when you are ready we can hear your story. 

Our hearts ache for you! We know your longing, we know the void, we know your anger, we know your tears, but we don't know you yet. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.  

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hard Jude Day

Thanksgiving is weighing on me. Normally I would make a big meal for anyone that wanted to stop by our house to see us and Jude. People would wander in throughout the day and good ole nurse Allan was there to help with all the leftovers. I will miss the nurses this year. I think that's half of what I am battling this year is the missing components of our family which was not just Jude. 

It's strange because I will have days where I feel functional and I don't have to wear a fake mask but there are other days that are not so great. This is one of those days. I miss Jude more than I can even express and the feel of him in my arms is beginning to grow a bit faint. I told Emily this weekend that I couldn't believe it's been 7 months because it feels like yesterday and she agreed. I had horrible nightmares again this weekend. One consisted of Mike being hurt and the other regarding Jude. I woke up hugging Mike because I was so distraught thinking something could happen to him too. 

Mike and I don't leave to watch Emily until Saturday so we will be around for Thanksgiving. I am considering making my normal meal and seeing where the day takes us. 

We miss you Jude. We are thankful for every moment we got with you. I am sure your sister will feel you with her this weekend and we will hang your stocking over the mantle on Friday. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I Am Grateful For.......

Next weekend is Thanksgiving. For the first time in years Mike and I will spending Thanksgiving at home. We will fly out Saturday to watch Emily compete for Texas teen. I admire her tenacity and strength to compete again knowing that with 114 girls the outcome may very well be the same. However Emily seems extremely confident and has worked VERY hard for this. I also know Jude will be with her the entire weekend holding her hand and giving her strength. 

So as we head into a season of being thankful I reflect on my blessings. 

I am thankful that I have a beautiful daughter inside and out. Someone who has a level head on her shoulders and who is soulfully years older than the age of her body. A girl that is smart, level headed, genuine, and kind. Also a bit silly and always makes me laugh. 

I am thankful that I got to spend 7 years with the most adorable little boy who just loved to be held and cared for.  I will always cherish Jude's smiles, laughs, and hugs.  I will always be grateful that I was chosen to have Jude and care for such a remarkable spirit who educated so many on the true meaning of love. I am eternally grateful for the nurses who helped us care for him and their everlasting friendship. 

I am thankful for my husband who is my very best friend. Who still loves me after all these hard years we have endured together. Who looks at me with love rather than judgement after all my body has suffered. He is someone I love spending time with and he is my steadfast rock. 

I am grateful that Mike and I both have good jobs that allow us to be in a nice house and put food on our table. 

I am grateful for the best friends a girl could ever have. Friends that know what wine I drink without asking, that I love bubble baths, and who show up without being asked. Friends who rescued me cowering in the bathroom when I was in a full blown panic attack at Jude's funeral. Friends who showed up to pack Jude's items with drinks and food in hand. I may very well be the most blessed person I know in the friendship department. Friends like these who even on my very worst day can make me smile for a picture. 

I am grateful for my family who step in even in times that no one knows they've stepped in. Family who endured years of our heartache and pain with Jude. Family who said Jude's purpose was to just make everyone better and isn't that an amazing purpose. Family who each individual person consists of beautiful personalities and souls intertwined within our own beautiful branching tree. 

I am just grateful for it all. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Emily and Mike have been planning the decorations for our new house for Christmas. As I mentioned before I have not been the least bit excited about Christmas. In fact walking through the stores laced with decorations just makes my heart hurt. However last night I finally got it. Mike was pointing out to me how he wanted to wrap our trees with lights and the decorations he wanted to put out. He said he wanted to light it up so Jude could see it in heaven and be proud. 

Tears. I got it. So we will be decorating the house beautifully.