Harriett R. Taylor

August 18, 2018 at 8:18 pm | Posted in Death, Love | 3 Comments
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In my family, August is pretty packed with birthdays, anniversaries and deathiversaries.  Today along with being Evan’s dad and stepmother’s wedding anniversary it is also the date when my Aunt Harriett died (21 years ago).

Although it has been over 2 decades, I can still feel the pit in my stomach that formed when I was told that she had pancreatic cancer.  I remember my parents were on vacation and I needed to call them to let them know this awful news.  I remember my hands shaking as I held the phone.

I was very lucky to have known Harriett Taylor, let alone to be her niece.  She inspired and helped me in ways that I wish I had been able to tell her during her lifetime.  I decided to go to law school during her judicial swearing-in ceremony.  I started volunteering at soup kitchens and food banks because she set the example of helping the poor and homeless.  She taught me the importance of sending thank you notes.

I remember my aunt’s mother pleading at her hospice bedside to switch places with her.  I learned that it is not possible, no matter how much you bargain, to trade your life for your child’s life.

My Aunt Harriett also taught me a lot about life, love and death.  Her oldest child’s (my cousin) birthday is on August 16 and her youngest child’s birthday is on August 20.  My aunt did not want to die on either of her children’s birthdays and she did not.  I truly believe that she willed herself to die on August 18.

The world is a better place because she was a part of it.

Possibilities and Playing Pokémon

March 20, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Posted in Grief, life after loss | 5 Comments
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Yesterday turned into an unexpected mix of spending time with all 4 of my children.

The day started out with Evan and I dropping off the twins at Sunday school and then going over to the cemetery to visit Jake and Sawyer.

The twins (and I) play Pokémon Go.  The cemetery happens to have a crazy amount of Pokémon stops – which is where the balls to catch Pokémon are collected.  Below is a picture of the cemetery.  The blue squares are all Pokémon stops.

The odd thing to me is that apparently some people come to the cemetery just to play Pokémon.   What might be even more odd is that I like the fact that where Jake and Sawyer are buried is right near a particular Pokémon stop (see below).  I like to think in some cosmic way that Jake and Sawyer are playing the same game that the twins and I are playing.

In addition to playing Pokémon Go, the twins decided that yesterday would be a great day for a Lemonade Stand to remember their brothers.  They set one up at the end of our driveway and raised money and awareness for the March of Dimes.

Would you like to join us in our efforts?  You can just click on this link and then click the “Walk with Me” button to join our Walk Team.  If that is not in the cards (which we know for most of you it is not), consider whether you can support us in our fundraising efforts.  Every dollar counts, and every dollar is matched by the hospital where our kids were born, so $1 donated = $2 to the March of Dimes.  Click on this link and click the “Donate Now” button.  Thanks for your support and any donation you can make!




A Celebration of Life

July 8, 2015 at 12:00 am | Posted in Grief, life after loss | 8 Comments
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We spend 
precious hours 
fearing the inevitable.
It would be wise
to use that time
adoring our families,
cherishing our friends,
and living our lives. 
Dr. Maya Angelou

My amazing cousin’s mother (who was also my cousin) wrote this poem in a comment to one of my posts last year.  She peacefully passed away a few days ago after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May.  She did not want a funeral and followed the “honor me not by mourning my death but by celebrating my life” philosophy.

So on Monday, there was not a funeral but a memorial service/celebration of her life.   My amazing cousin and my mom spoke – it was a beautiful tribute.

We decided that the twins should come to the celebration.  They were not exactly at the service but they were running in circles in the entry way of the funeral home.  As I left the service they both stopped running and came to hug me.  One said “Mama, we will behave if you stop crying.”   The other one said “Mama, you have to focus on the positive things.” As we drove away I stopped crying and I tried to explain to them that I am sad, I might cry again but I would try to focus on the positive.

“We all have life storms, and when we get the rough times and we recover from them, we should celebrate that we got through it. No matter how bad it may seem, there’s always something beautiful that you can find.”  Mattie Stepanek


I still hate cancer

June 18, 2015 at 11:18 pm | Posted in Grief, life after loss | 3 Comments
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I am once again silent and stuck. I am hoping that writing helps.  My amazing cousin’s mom was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and her heart is failing.

My amazing cousin’s mom and my mom are first cousins.  I am heartbroken for my cousins, my mom and the fact that I feel so helpless.

quote - love never fails

i hope someone finds a cure for cancer

March 2, 2015 at 9:51 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, life after loss, Love | 9 Comments
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quotes - i hate cancer

Not too long after Sawyer died, the spouses of 2 of my cousins were diagnosed with cancer.  One lost her battle 2 years ago and the other lost her battle this past weekend. Having lived through Jake and Sawyer’s deaths, you would think handling death would somehow be easier (or at least not so damn hard).  I feel like I should have some wise words – or some magic way to protect others from living without their loved ones.  I am just not sure such magic exists.  Rationally, I know that death is part of life and that we will all die at some point but dealing with it is not easy.  Maybe it is not supposed to be easy.  If it were easy than it would mean we did not care for or love the person.

The cousin’s wife who died recently was only in her forties and they have young children.  It is not fair that their children have to grow up without their mother.  I know, no one ever promised that life would be fair – but I wish it could be (even if only for a little while).

quote - love

I’m Scared (repost from my amazing cousin’s blog)

February 4, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Posted in Grief, life lessons, Love, normal? | 5 Comments
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I would like to introduce you all to my amazing younger cousin. She is my hero.

plugging along

This is my life. It’s all that I know. Friends have said they think I’m so brave for just living my life, when I’m just living my life the best I can… just as they are.

The truth is I’m scared.

When I initially decided to start a blog, I intended to make it humorous by discussing the more amusing aspects of my life than the dark ones, but sometimes all I see is darkness. I can’t take a single step without being scared that I will tumble and smash my teeth into the floor. I sometimes feel like I’m spiraling downhill with no end in sight.

I have FSH Muscular Dystrophy, and I’m just scared.

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”

 John Wayne

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Do you want to build a snowman? Come to Atlanta.

January 30, 2014 at 5:30 pm | Posted in life lessons, Love | 8 Comments
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You might have heard about or are living through Atlanta’s snowstorm.  Tuesday Evan and I both left work around 1 pm.  After 30 minutes I had not left the parking lot.  My stress level did not subside at all when finally I did leave the parking lot, because cars were not moving. . . not even a little bit.  I quickly realized that I was not going to make it to pick up the twins from school at 2:30.  I called Evan.  My call did not go through.  Bummer.  Luckily, Evan called me and said he was in traffic but moving.  He would drive towards school too.  He was able to make it near the school within 2 hours.  He parked and walked the rest of the way to get the twins.

By 4 pm Evan and the twins were all safely home.  I for the most part stopped stressing about my never-ending commute.  I had almost a full tank of gas, no kids or dogs in the car with me and I was moving (sometimes).  My college days had prepared me for the no bathroom situation.  I finally made it home after 6 hours.  A friend who could not make it to her house arrived about an hour after I got home.

We were super lucky compared to lots of others.  And, our friend made it home on Wednesday with no problem!

One of the twins has been a bit sick so he was not going outside.  His sister, on the other hand, wanted to play in the snow!  Meanwhile, he wanted to take pictures.  He took a few pictures before realizing he should move his fingers. . .:

Fletcher's photos

First, she wanted to build a snowman.   After all, we have listened to the Frozen sound track 47,000 times in the last month.

Evan the snowman

Next, she wanted to build another snowman.

Evan and Lanie - snow people

And, then she wanted to build a whole snow family.

Snow Family

In case you do not recognize us let me help you:

  • Evan is the tall one in the blue hat with sunglasses
  • I am wearing a cool pink hat our niece gave us
  • the twins are the middle-sized snow people (she is wearing a hand me down hat from our niece and he is wearing a cool Star Wars hat from our nephew)
  • Buddy and Baby (our dogs) are each wearing black and white polka dots
  • Sawyer is wearing the brown hat (it is another Star Wars hat from our nephew)
  • Jake is in between Baby and Sawyer

School just got cancelled for Friday too.  It is supposed to be in the 60’s by the weekend.  So, if you are looking for us we will be the one’s at home watching our snow family melt.

Me, little Miss. and our snow family


July 2, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Posted in after death?, Jake, life after loss, Love, Sawyer | 6 Comments
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quote - balloon - AA Milne

Whenever our daughter is given a balloon she wants to let it go and send it to Jake and Sawyer.   The balloons are not always just for Jake and Sawyer.  She also sends them to Evan’s mom (Mom Mom), my grandfather (Grandpoppy) and other members of our family who have died. I think it started with the balloon launch at the end of the Walk to Remember.  However, it has continued after birthday parties and school celebrations.  She usually wants to come home with the balloon and stand in the driveway.


Next, she will find the perfect place to release the balloon so that it does not get caught in the trees.  Sometimes, she will try to attach a note to the balloon.  Other times, she will say a few words or give a few kisses to send with the balloon.


When she has finally determined that the conditions for the balloon release are as good as they are going to get, she lets it go.


We watch it for as long as we can.  She asks me if I really think that they will get her balloon.  I always say, “yes.”

Tonight at bedtime the twins were discussing the balloons that she sends.  They debated the obstacles the balloon could encounter – tree branches, the wind, the lack of wind, etc.  What would happen when the one balloon finally arrived?  Would Jake or Sawyer hold it?

I chimed in that it did not really matter who held it.  They could all look at the balloon and know that we are thinking about them.

Happy Anniversary Evan!

May 28, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Posted in Anniversaries, Grief, life after loss, Love | 9 Comments
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Most of the anniversaries I write about are not really anniversaries at all.  They are really Deathiversaries.

This past week Evan and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.


In 10 years we have had 4 miraculous children.  We have buried our oldest and our youngest sons.  I am afraid to count how many other funerals we have attended.

The divorce statistics after the death of a child are debatable.  Some say it is a very high number, others disagree.   I am not sure which to believe and I do not think it matters.   It is bittersweet.  All marriages have difficult and stressful times (I think).

Our lives are not the “happily ever after” that I had imagined but

quote - happy ending

The Best Ever Big Brother and Sister

April 14, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Posted in Grief, Jake, life after loss, Love, Sawyer, twins | 8 Comments
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Recently, the twins have started to read.  Gone are the days when Evan and I are the only readers of bed time books.

When I was pregnant with Sawyer I bought the twins “Best Ever Big Brother” and “Best Ever Big Sister.”  I bought the books to help with the adjustment of having a new sibling.  The twins have always known about their big brother Jake but they never met him.

After Sawyer died I thought I had taken the books out of their room and put them away.  I apparently did not because the other night the twins dug up the “best ever” books.

As I was putting away their clean clothes, the twins each read their version of the “best ever” books.  I could not move as my already shattered heart broke just a bit more every time one of twins read the lines meant for Sawyer, “One day you’ll be big like me.”

My tears over hearing those books read overshadowed my pride that the twins are actually reading by themselves.

Once again, I am reminded that I lead a double life.  I am here with the twins and Evan.   Then there is the other part of me who is on planet my baby died with Jake and Sawyer.  I try to keep my double life in balance.  I try my best to stay present with the twins but Jake and Sawyer are always with me too.  Most of the time it works but sometimes the balance just breaks.

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