Beautiful Message

A friend of mine from high school, Ashley Baum North, posted this on her timeline the other day and it was very touching, I could definitely relate.  Thanks for sharing Ashley!

I was listening to Joel Osteen the other day…I really love his stories. He talked about something that I really loved and I Thought of a few certain friends that I know would enjoy/ or need to read this. Then I realized that EVERYONE can relate to this. No matter your struggle and whether you are religious or not, doesn’t matter.

He was talking about going through difficulties and struggles. Wondering why a certain bad things happened. Loss of jobs, loss of relationships, Loss of hope, Loss of health, Loss of life. It’s just unfair the terrible things people go through. But it’s impossible to get through life unscathed…for anyone. In his talk, Joel described a time he visited a community in the aftermath of a hurricane. Houses were destroyed. Power lines were down. Trees were uprooted and broken to pieces. Giant oaks, the tallest pine trees, magnolias, maples, everything. But he noticed one kind of tree were all still standing. The palm tree.
He asked someone how the palm trees survived the storm. A person knowledgeable about the palm told him that palm trees are designed to bend so they don’t break. When the storms come, palm trees can bend an amazing amount, even to the point of being horizontal to the ground! But they don’t break.
During the storm, you might look at the palm tree flattened against the ground and think that it’s down. A lot of the time, these trees remain this way through hours and hours of hurricane force winds. But when the storm passes, the palm tree stands upright again.
Although it seems like putting a tree through this would weaken it, making it more susceptible to breaking in the next storm, Scientists have found that while the tree is bent, its root system is literally strengthening itself. It was designed to bend, and designed to strengthen itself! When the tree stands again, it is actually stronger than it was before the storm. It literally comes out of a storm better and stronger than it ever was before.
We live in a world where storms hit. Most of the storms that affect us the worst are impossible to avoid. Sometimes the storms are difficult or impossible to explain, accept, or understand. Sometimes it seems so intense that we feel hopeless to make it through. But we are made like the palm tree, able to withstand even the most difficult storms. No matter how impossible or hopeless things may seem, when the storm is over, we are able to recover and stand upright again, time and time again. Whether the storm is short and knocks us over for a few, or seems to go on and on and on. Like the palm, you can and will stand back up again. Not only will you stand upright, but that storm will strengthen you while it puts you through hell, and when it passes and you stand, you will be even stronger than before.

Just a few pictures below from June 3rd, 2014.  Cayden and I made an after school/work trip to the beach.  Enjoy ❤ #pinkforcadybug

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My first Mother’s Day without my little girl

I am absolutely DREADING the arrival of Mother’s day this weekend.  I have been thinking about it for months now.  I miss her so much and the fact that the little girl who made me a mother is no longer with us, breaks my heart in a way that is unexplainable.  When I think about the early days, when I was a brand new mommy, one story in particular comes to mind.

The first night we brought her home from the hospital, I was a nervous wreck….as many first time parents are.  I was worried about everything I did.  I didn’t want to hurt her putting her little clothes on, I was worried if I was feeding her enough, changing her diaper enough….just everything.  A few of our friends wanted to stop by that evening to visit and see the new baby.  When they arrived I was panicking about Cayden not eating.  And when I say panicking….I mean hysterically crying and telling Brent he had to call the pediatrician immediately!  We had been home for hours and I was trying to breast feed and she just wasn’t eating and she was upset (of course, so was I).  Brent calmed me down and called the doctor.  They suggested to feed her a few ounces of formula to fill her tummy a little, so she could be calm for breast-feeding.  Once we gave her a bottle of formula, she settled right down and fell asleep.  Crisis averted 🙂  Of course, by that point,  I had scared the crap out of my pregnant friend that was over 🙂
I often think to myself “why my baby? why take a little girl who was so loved by everyone?”  Cayden was a wonderful child, and everyone who came into her life absolutely adored her.  She had such an infectious personality.  There are so many children in the world who are unwanted and unloved….its such a sad thing.  Then here is this little girl who has parents, family and friends who would give her any and everything she wanted.  Life just doesn’t make sense.
I have been back and forth in my head about how I feel this Mother’s Day;  Whether I feel like celebrating or ignoring it completely….not that I guess its even possible to ignore.  In the end, I think I should celebrate, because after all, that’s what Cayden would want.
My brother said something very sweet soon after she passed.  He said, “You know, a lot of people go through all kinds of hardships.  We can rest easy knowing that her life, although short, was perfect.  No one was ever mean to her, she never knew hate or fear.  She lived a sweet and perfect life”.  Uncle Josh could not be more correct. I will keep his words in mind for my first Mother’s Day without her.  I will remember the wonderful Mother’s Day’s I did share with her, and know that, I was a good mom to her and gave her a wonderful life that I can be proud of.
❤ Love you to the moon and back Cadybug
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Mother’s Day 2012
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Mother’s Day 2013
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Mother’s Day 2014

Our Beach Baby from Aunt NeNe

First off I want to thank Jessica for letting me guest blog and share my feelings about Cayden with everyone. I am so glad she started this blog and I love reading all the entries and remembering what good times we had with our Cadybug.

Jessica and I met over 8 years ago through my husband when they were working together at Skanska. Pretty much since that time we have besties J My husband always says that I am blonde Jessica and she is the brunette Whitney. Something just clicked with us immediately and I am so grateful for her friendship. She was my matron of honor at my wedding and she and Brenton gave me such a huge blessing by allowing me to be a part of Cayden’s life and be her Aunt NeNe.

Since the day she was born Cayden brought nothing but joy into our lives. She would come running up and give you the biggest hugs, share her snacks with Uncle Joel, and always be putting on a show for us to enjoy. She loved life so much and lived every day to the fullest.  For me it’s the little everyday things that I miss. I have spent hundreds of hours at Jess and Brent’s just hanging out and playing with Cayden. We would watch movies, cook in her play kitchen, color, splash in the bathtub, and play hide n seek. I can still hear her yelling at me in her tiny voice “NeNe go hide!” and how she would squeal with delight when she found you. We would hide over and over again. She never got tired of playing.

For those of you who knew Cayden well or from seeing her pictures through the years you know her favorite place was the beach. There were many times Jessica would text me during the week telling me how Cayden had cried that morning because she had to go to daycare and not the beach, so we would make plans for the weekend to head out to chick’s beach to play in the sand.  We always go to the same spot at chick’s beach. The water is calm there so we didn’t have to worry about Cayden running around and playing. We would load up the car, drive out there, and lug all our stuff down the long sandy path to the beach. Cayden would get so excited when she could finally see the water. We would let her pick a spot and set everything up.

We would spend hours at the beach just laughing, talking, and being together. Cayden would sit in her princess chair and eat snacks (especially when Uncle Joel would share his crab chips), run down to the water, build sand castles with me and Jessica, and go climb “the giant mountain” (the sand dunes) over and over again. Sometimes she played with other kids but most of the time she spent with us.  She loved to go in the water in her float and “swim” back and forth between us. When she would finally catch you she would “roarrrr” and we would all laugh.

Like I said, it’s the small things that seem to bubble up in my mind- Her little voice, the way she would yell for me to go do something, hide n seek, those are the things I miss with her.

As I think ahead to this summer I get sad sometimes. I know going to the beach will never be the same without her, but I think I will feel closer to her there than anywhere else. Now that Sutton is here I can’t wait to take her to the beach and make memories with her there.  I hate that Sutton never got to meet Cayden. I know Cayden would have been like a big sister to her, but Sutton will know Cayden, that I will make sure of. We will tell her about her cousin Cayden and show her pictures and share our good times with her. I hope that Joel and I can do as great of a job with our daughter as Jess and Brent did with Cayden. I love that little feisty redhead with all my heart and will be thrilled for Sutton to be like her.

So take time to enjoy the little things in life. I am so glad that I didn’t spend my weekends running around worrying about errands, but that I spent them down on the beach with a perfect little girl and her beautiful momma making lasting memories.

Aunt NeNe loves you baby girl!

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Aunt Lindsay loves Cadybug

I struggle with the loss of Cayden every day from different angles. I feel my own grief due to how much I miss my sweet niece. I grieve for my son, Lincoln, who was never able to meet his only cousin. I grieve for my parents who cherished their granddaughter and every move she made. And most painfully I grieve for my brother and sister-in-law, Cayden’s parents, who must adjust to a life they never had any business even imagining.  I live in New York City with my husband Brian and my 7 month old son Lincoln. When Cayden passed away, Lincoln was only 3 months old and my family asked that we not come down for the funeral as they were too nervous about this sickness that had already taken our Cayden from us. Missing the funeral for someone you loved so deeply is a difficult thing to manage. Below is what I wrote for my cousin Michelle to read that day at the funeral. I wanted to share it with all of you, especially those that were not able to attend. I have also included a picture of my son, 3 months old at the time, who was dressed in pink for his cousin.

Thank you for reading Jessica’s wonderful blog. I hope to contribute more of my memories and my healing process in the future.

I have just recently come to understand firsthand the love that a parent has wrapped up in a child. With the birth of my son in late August, I have experienced more happiness and affection than I ever dreamed it was possible to feel for another person.  And I can now comprehend the fear of that pendulum swinging the other way, from the incredible happiness they bring you to the devastating sadness that any pain they experience may cause.  This new knowledge has made me realize that losing them before their time should be unimaginable. What these two parents are experiencing is too hard to even consider, much less process as reality.

I am Cayden Gracie Smith’s Aunt. It has been a title I’ve been delighted and proud to hold. I live far away and have not been able to experience Cayden’s day to day milestones in person. As many of you who do not live close to your loved ones can understand, this has always been difficult for me. But I often found comfort when thinking of how my relationship with Cayden would grow over the years: how we would travel together, I would show her New York City, Rome, take her to the ballet… And how she would come to me in her teenage years when she was on the outs with her parents.  I know she loved her Aunt Lindsay and Uncle Brian, but I also knew that my role with her would change and become even more important as she got older. That has been taken from me and I will have to come to terms with that on my own. What I would like to do now is thank all of Cayden’s other aunts, the ones that got to be there for her in person more than I could: Aunt Heather, Aunt Whitney, Aunt Nicki just to name a few… I know that each of your individual relationships with Cayden and her parents are thanks enough. But know that I have and continue to appreciate those relationships as well. 

And now, for my son Lincoln. He was due to meet his only cousin Cayden this coming Friday at our home in NYC. He didn’t know it yet, but Cayden took her responsibilities as cousin quite seriously. So seriously that she decided it more appropriate to refer to him as her “baby brudder”. My parents, and Brenton and Jessica, would correct her with a smile. But Cayden was right. She already had more love for this little boy with whom she would now be sharing her beloved Gran that referring to him as “cousin” just wouldn’t cut it. He was her brother. It breaks my heart that my son will never know Cayden in person. Today I promise that he will know her in spirit and develop his own special wonder for her little soul. 

My husband Brian, my son Lincoln and I cannot be there today. It is another event we are forced to miss. I respect and deeply appreciate my family’s wishes that we stay in NY to care for Lincoln. So THANK YOU to this community, Brenton and Jessica’s larger family, for being here and playing your own role but also playing our role for us. Your responsibility is great. Know that Brian, Lincoln and I love and appreciate you all from the bottom of our hearts. I ask this community to remember your responsibility to these loving parents. They shared their precious daughter with all of us. It is your job, our job, to remember them every day and take care of them in whatever manner needed not just in these coming days, but long from now when their loss still touches them deeply.

I will say goodbye to Cayden on my own and not through these words today. Today I simply thank all of you for loving my brother Brenton, my sister Jessica and my dear, sweet niece, Cadybug.

Lincoln Pink Swaddle

Here’s a picture of the first time Aunt Lindsay met Cayden ❤

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Sleeping Beauty

Today is sort of a sad post.  Lately, night-time has really been getting to me.  When its quiet, your mind wanders.  I often think about what we would be doing, right now, if Cayden were here with us.  As time goes on, I’m afraid of memories fading and forgetting what it was like with her.   The bedtime ritual is one of those things I worry about forgetting and something I terribly miss doing with her.

Every parent knows what I’m talking about.  When you get home from work and you get them something to eat, help them with their little homework or worksheets and then give them a bath.  Cayden loved to play in the bath.  She splashed and lined her ducks up on the tub.  She would always beg for “one more minute mommy”.  After her bath she loved to pick out her nightgown.  Cayden would ONLY wear “beautiful dresses” to bed. Pajamas with pants just would not do for her.
When it was time to go to sleep, she would ask you to read a story.  She had her favorite books that she liked to read at bedtime.  You also never read the story just once….you usually read it at least twice 🙂  Once story time was over she would ask for a “BIIIIG hug and a tiss”.  Sometimes, she would ask you to lay with her for a few minutes, that’s my favorite.  She would roll over on her side and look at you with the sweetest smile.  Her little arm would come up around your neck and she would hold you for a few minutes.  When she was finally ready to go to sleep, she would tell you, “ok mommy, you can go downstairs now”.
Usually this was the time of night, right after we got her in bed, when we would watch a couple of our grown up shows before we would call it a night.  Most nights, she would come downstairs and ask for water, or to go potty or eat some popcorn 🙂  We would always laugh, give her a little water so she didn’t wet the bed, let her stay up for a few more minutes then take her back upstairs. Before you left her bedroom, she would always ask for “one more hug”.
But the part of the night I miss the most, is when you walk upstairs after she’s fast asleep. Her bedroom door is cracked, and her Sofia the First nightlight is on.  I would tiptoe in and stand next to her bed to check on her for a minute.  She looked so peaceful and sweet laying there asleep.  Usually I would have to cover her back up, because by this point she had kicked all her blankets off.  Brent would come in, we would smile at her little face, touch her head, look at her one more time and leave the room.  When we step into the hallway, we would always say, “that’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever laid eyes on.”
It’s the feeling you get too, when you see your child tucked into bed.  It makes you feel warm and fuzzy to look at them so peacefully safe and sound in their room.  It’s probably one of the best feelings as a parent.  To know that they’re happy and comfy in their bed with sweet dreams.  I miss that ❤
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