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
Mother’s Day 2012
Mother’s Day 2013
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 ❤


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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Cat Jacket

I think today is a great day to tell the story of our kitty, Jacket.

Prior to Cayden’s passing, I didn’t have much of an opinion on whether I believed in signs and things of that nature.  I had never personally experienced anything like that.  I’m a believer now…and I 100% believe that Jacket was given to us by Cayden from Heaven.  Here’s why.
The day of Cayden’s funeral was, and will always be, one of the hardest days of my life.  It didn’t even seem real.  I felt like I wasn’t even in my own body.  Looking back, most of the day is a blur.  I don’t recall many details and I’m no quite sure how I even made it through the day without having some sort of meltdown.  It touched my heart to see how many people came to the service and how even people who barely knew us wanted to be there for us during that time.
After the funeral, family and close friends went to the cemetery.  While we were on our way there, my mom’s close group of girlfriends went to my parents house to set up a wonderful spread of food for the family to have after the services.  These ladies did a FABULOUS job and went out of their way to make sure we were taken care of.  While we were at the cemetery, the ladies at the house were working to make sure everything was ready on time.  While filling coolers on the back deck, they noticed a little grey and white cat with a pink nose come up on the deck.  They weren’t sure where she came from but she was hanging around like she belonged there.  As the night went on, and people came to the house, the little cat just hung out with us.  We kept wandering outside to see what she was doing and if she was still there.  She wanted attention, like she knew us.  While we stood out back playing with her, we kept talking about how weird it was that she showed up at my parents house at the exact time we were laying Cayden to rest.  I started to get a feeling, like this little cat didn’t just show up, like she was meant to be there.
For the next 48 hours the cat never left my parents house.  I called my Dad multiple times to ask if she was still there.  My dad asked around to the neighbors to see if she belonged to anyone, no one claimed her.  No matter how many times my parents tried to get her to “go home”, she wouldn’t leave.  In the mean time people could not stop asking about what was going on with the cat.  Everyone that was at my parents house that night just got an overwhelming feeling that the cat meant something.  It was as if no one could get the little cat showing up when she did out of their minds.
I called my Dad one more time and told him, if she is there in the morning when you go to work, I’m keeping her!  I couldn’t shake the feeling that is was meant for us to have her.
Sure enough, when my Dad went to his truck to go to work the next morning, the cat jumped in the truck with him!  At that point, he couldn’t help but think there was something special about her as well.
When I called my Dad that morning to ask him if the cat was at his house still, he told me she was at work with him sleeping, and I should come get her.  So Heather and I jumped in the car and immediately went to pick her up and take her to the vet to get checked out. She’s been hanging out at our house ever since 🙂
We found out she’s a young cat, around a year old.  She loves to play and has a cute little personality.  Jacket follows me everywhere, just like Cadybug did.  When I wake up in the mornings, she’s at the foot of my bed.  When I get dressed and put my makeup on, she hangs out in the room with me, just like Cadybug did.  When I’m having a bad day or I’m crying, thinking about Cayden, Jacket is sitting next to me.
Those first few weeks after Cayden passed were horrible.  My thoughts were consumed with memories and the realization that I would never see her sweet face again.  Rescuing the little stray cat and getting her setup in our house with food and toys and all the things you need when you get a new pet, gave me something to focus on….a purpose.  I believe with all my heart that Cayden sent Jacket to me for that very reason, to help me through a tough time.  Cayden wanted us to know she was there, and wanted to give us a cute little addition to care for.  And come on, the cat has to be from Cayden…..she does, after all, have the cutest little pink nose ❤
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ps…..the bracelets are coming soon.  As soon as they are here I will send info. out about them 🙂

The New Normal

When you first have a baby, getting used to life as a family is challenging.  When it’s just the two of you, you’re able to go to the store when you feel like it, meet up with friends, go out to dinner on a whim…whatever.  Once a baby comes into your life, your normal, everyday routine changes.  Going to the grocery store takes twice as long and you have to bring twice as many things with you to survive 🙂  You can’t really ever go out to dinner, at least not without finding someone to babysit.  As the months go by, you get used to this routine, you start to cherish it.  Time spent at home cuddling with your little one is something you look forward to much more than going out and having wine or adult time with friends. Your priorities change, and the things you enjoy change as well.

Once you start a family, you never think about the opposite happening.  It never crosses your mind that you would go back to being just two people, no one else to think about…with the exception of thinking about retirement when your kids are grown and out of the house.
Finding a “new normal” is something I struggle with everyday.  For over 3 years, my life revolved around Cayden.  What do I need to get for her today?  Where would Cayden have fun going?  What can I do that will get some of her energy out so I can let her nap while I mop the floors?  Whatever the case may be…
Nowadays, I have all this extra time on my hands.  I have the overwhelming need to keep busy and out of the house (staying inside can be quite depressing, and your mind runs away with you).  Brent and I have joined Planet Fitness, and chosen diet and workout plans to keep us busy.  Its something constructive to do that keeps you out and about for at least a couple of hours.
I’m currently working on a new little project in memory of Cayden.  I am looking into some things I can do to help a non-profit group that helps families who deal with the flu.  This organization, Families Fighting Flu,, do work to help spread the news about the signs and dangers of the flu, keep you informed with news regarding the flu season and also help families who grief the loss of a family member from the flu.  I think working with them to raise money in Cayden’s honor is a perfect thing to do to make sure her memory lives on.  It’s also something for me to work on that occupies time and makes me feel good about helping others.
It’s interesting, when you have a small child, you often dream about those moments you get to yourself.  You long to have 1 day running errands without a child attached to you. You look forward to the 2 hours you get with your girlfriends alone while the grandparents babysit.  Time for yourself is so hard to get once you have a baby.  It’s not that you’re a bad parent, but everyone likes a little break every once in a while 🙂  I did and always will cherished my time with Cayden.  I love her to pieces.  I spent weekends doing whatever I knew she would have the most fun doing.  I sacrificed my time for her, to make her happy.  And I, in turn, was never more happy doing so.
Now I have alllllll this free time, and I wish I could give every minute of it back.  I am learning to live again, with the best part of my life missing.  I know I will slowly learn to live in this new normal, and enjoy life as Cayden would want me to.  I hope she’s proud.  I like to think she’s with me on this journey, helping me with each little step…just as she would do if she was right here with me.
Love you baby ❤
***I will be posting some information soon on the blog with a page on how you can purchase #pinkforcadybug bracelets!  All of the proceeds will go to Families Fighting Flu in Cayden’s name. Check out their website for more information. Keep an eye out for the update!

Happy Balentine’s Day ;)

I personally have never been super into Valentine’s day.  I have always celebrated, and, like every woman, have expected a little something that day 🙂  Brent and I have always been pretty subtle though, and it worked for us.

Cayden however….LOVES Valentine’s day ❤  She loved the color scheme, obviously, the treats, the hearts, everything.  This past Valentine’s day, she spent the entire month until St. Patrick’s Day telling every one “Happy Balentine’s Day”.
Last year Brent had to work on Valentine’s day.  It fell on a Friday and he was gone until 9 that night.  He knew his girls would be home together, celebrating a ladies day.  When we got home from work/school that day Brent had left gifts and a balloon on the couch for his favorite people.  Cayden’s face lit up with excitement when she saw that there were surprises for her and mommy on the couch.  My heart filled with joy to see her so happy.  I told her that Daddy was her Valentine and he bought her special gifts because she is so wonderful.
Last year, Valentine’s day was PERFECT.  Cayden wore a cute outfit with a heart on the front, she had a valentine’s party at school and she came home with lots of goodies from her class.
2015 is going to be hard.  It is going to be our “1st” everything without her.  First birthdays, holidays; things just won’t be the same.  Cayden enjoyed holidays and celebrations so much.  She looked forward to the little parties at school with all of her friends.  I would always buy her a special outfit for the day to make her feel special.  She would be so proud when she walked in the door at school to show her teachers and friends what she was wearing.
My friend Nicki said it best when she spoke at Cayden’s funeral.  Although Brent and I had such a short time with her, our time was filled with overwhelming love.  If God gave us the choice to pick Cayden all over again, knowing that she would be with us for just a short time, we would have picked her again and again.  She is such a special gift.
Cayden’s grave is decorated for Valentine’s day…just the way she would like it.  I can see her little face now smiling looking at how pretty it is.  Tomorrow I plan to go visit her and wish my sweet little Valentine a HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY.  I wouldn’t miss a Valentine’s day with her ❤  She will always be my love and my Valentine.
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