Day 31: Sunset


Joe and I vacationed in Hawaii a few years ago.  We stayed in these little cottages that were once part of a sugar cane plantation. They sit alongside a black sand beach.  On my mantel, I have a glass jar that contains sea shells from our various trips to the islands and a small amount of black sand from that beach.  I’m considering bagging it up and sending it someone in Hawaii to return to the island. There is a superstition that if you take lava rock from the islands, you’ll anger the Goddess Pele and bad luck will follow you.  After your child dies, you will look for any explanation of why it happened.  Find a reason for the unreasonable.  You need something, someone to blame– even yourself– because there is no way to really understand.  Because losing your baby does not make any sense.  Call it crazy, call it irrational. Try to convince me it’s not anyone’s fault.  That it’s not my fault.  Actually, don’t.  I know all of this.  But sometimes I just need someone to listen.

Thank your for reading the past 31 days.  The Capture Your Grief project has helped me find my voice.  I intend to keep writing, but likely not on a daily basis. Thank you to those who took time to really read– to really listen.  You’ve helped me more than I can ever tell you.  To those of you who read it but still don’t really get what I’m saying, I don’t think I can help you at this point.  There’s a time to release the parts of your life that are not helping you on your journey and I’m fine with that now. I’m surrounded by love.  It’s an amazing, soul-rebuilding feeling.  I will have good days.  I will have bad days.  And I am so blessed to have some incredible people to stand by me for both.

Day 30: Intention


I intend to live a more peaceful life in honor of my daughter.

For me, peace is recognizing that grief is messy, painful and confusing but not allowing it to rule every moment of my life. It’s knowing that doubt and fear are a part of me now.  All of those things are there for a reason.  I need to process them.  I need to feel them. The goal is not to eliminate them completely.  That is impossible. The goal is let them be part of the journey, but not drown in them.

Peace is letting love be the center.  I grieve for Zoey deeply because I love her deeply. But I will not let the fear of loss scare me from loving.  I will not be afraid to love my daughter, my family, my friends. I will not be afraid to love life again.


Day 29: Reflect


It’s been two months since I lost my daughter.  My world might look similar to this time last year from the outside: work, gym, dinner, cat on my lap, planning a trip to the beach.  But it isn’t the same.  I am not the same person.  Just looking back on my entries for the past month and even looking back to when I started writing almost a year ago, I see how interconnected everything is.  My support is also a resource.  Forgiveness and relationships.  And the grief connects to everything in my life.  It is inescabable.  Zoey changed every part of me.  So now every part of my life must change again.  There’s a Maya Angelou quote that says “If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude”.  I cannot change Zoey’s death. I cannot change that it will impact me everyday for the rest of my life.  My only choice is to frame it in a way I can live with.  To focus on how much I love her.  To look back in awe that I was given such a beautiful child– a beautiful spirit.  To spend the rest of my days living for her. I wish she was still here.  I will always miss her.  I will always carry the grief.  I just hope I can use it to find beauty.  To love more deeply. To live more completely.  I believe it’s what she would want from her mom.  She would want me to be strong.  She would want me to live and love as fully as possible.


Day 28: Wisdom


Zoey died two months ago today.  I am by no means an expert on grief.  I am not a therapist nor do I have anything but a freshman level psychology course.  But here’s what I would say to a new family to this crappy club:

I’ll start by saying how sorry I am. I know those are hollow words right now.  But I am sorry.  Sorry you’ve joined me on this path.  Sorry your heart is broken.  Sorry your arms are empty.

For now, you have to just be.  You will probably feel like you are just existing.  You don’t know where to go, what to do.  You can only do what feels right at the moment.  And know that what feels right can change in an instant. Maybe you want to be surrounded by people.  Maybe you want to turn off the lights and lock the door. Maybe you just get in the car and drive.

You will have to make decisions you should not have to make.  They won’t make sense. Because how do you decide if you should bury your child or have them cremated?  How do you pick out coffins and urns?  You have to decide if you want their clothes back or not.  I said no. I didn’t want Zoey to be without clothes and blankets.  It wasn’t for weeks that I realized they’d take them off anyway.  Now I wonder where the last dress she wore is.  Where the last blankets that wrapped her little body are.

No matter what you do, something will haunt you.  I picture what happened to Zoey’s body after I handed her over and it traumatizes me.  I wish it was as easy as simply saying “stop thinking about it”.  It’s not.  You can try. But it sneaks in.

The first time you hear a baby cry it will crush you.  There are so many things that will trigger you. Walking through Target is a new experience.

You will try to find the right words to say your baby died. Something gentler– your baby passed away. You lost him or her.  None of them will feel right.

I’m not going to tell you to go back to work or not to go back.  I’m not going to tell you how to handle the holidays.  You may want pictures all over your house. You may want them tucked away in your purse.  Try not to compare yourself to anyone else.  We may share this path, but we all walk it a little differently.

You and your spouse may grieve differently.  Try to be patient with one another.  But try to find some common ground too.  Joe and I drive.  That’s the only time we really talk about our pain to each other.

Your thoughts will be jumbled and scattered.  You’ll put the milk away in the pantry.  You’ll have an unhealthy reliance on post it notes.

I wish these things weren’t true.  That you wouldn’t have flash-backs, self doubt, guilt, anger or fear.  But you will.  I’d rather you know and not feel like you’re crazy. I’d rather you know you are not alone.

Your heart is shattered. I don’t think it ever really gets pieced back together.  You just fill in the cracks.  And you can fill them with anger and bitterness, but that won’t make them hurt less. Or you can fill the cracks with the light your child gave you. You may have to dig deep to find it, but please try.  I know you can’t avoid the darkness completely. It will always be there.  But we have to work towards more light than dark.

For me the light is remembering how happy we were finding out I was pregnant. Hearing her heartbeat.  Those gorgeous blue eyes.  Holding her close to me. Seeing how hard she tried to smile for us.  Knowing we gave her our all.  Knowing we loved her every moment of her life.

Life changes with that last heartbeat. I hope you can find peace.  I hope you can find light. If you were in front of me right now, I would just hug you because I know all the words in the world will not fix this.  But we have hope.  And love. And each other.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” Hebrews 6:19


Day 27: Express


There are so many people that have helped me through the last year. Offered unconditional and nonjudgmental support.   They tell me they love me.  Let me know they still think about Zoey. They share my sense of humor.  But there have been a few along the way that have done the opposite. I try to focus on the positive, but I’m going to address the people that need to learn when to stop talking. Consider it a public service announcement.  And if you see yourself in my writing or recognize one of these comments as your own, please know I’m doing my best to understand that you are also on a path. It’s very different from mine. You cannot understand mine unless you traveled it and I’m trying so very hard to recognize that you really do mean well.

Do not tell me that you bought Zoey a gift, but since you didn’t see me before she died that you’ll just “hang on to it” because you’re “still praying for me”.  My daughter is not replaceable.  Having another child will not change losing Zoey.

Do not ever say to me, or any grieving person, “at least” anything. There is no “at least”.  Yes, I believe she’s in heaven. That’s a beautiful sentiment.  Sometimes believing it is the only thing that allows me to keep moving.  But I’d still rather have her here.  And if for one moment you think you’d feel differently if in my shoes, you are mistaken.

Along the same lines, if you feel the need to start a sentence with “I shouldn’t say this, but…”.  You’re right. You shouldn’t say it.

I also feel the need to reiterate a point I made soon after Zoey died: I don’t need to be fixed.  I’m on this path and I’m right where I need to be.

I’ve been very open writing and sharing our journey through pregnancy and Zoey’s life. I appreciate the love and support sent my way from so many people.  I want this to be a healing project for me. But with healing, comes wading through the darkness.  It’s easy to just not read what I’ve written if you don’t like the tone or it’s too sad.  But I can’t escape it. Expressing it is my way of processing.  Any given moment, I’m handling her death with as much grace as I can muster.

Day 26: Healing Ritual


As I sat down to write tonight, I learned the news that Cardinals outfielder Oscar Tavares died in a car accident. When you haven’t lost a child, you can try to imagine it.  You can hurt for them.  You can be try to be empathetic. But you cannot truly understand.  Now I understand.  And hearing the news that another life ended too soon, that another family has to travel this path, broke my heart again.  I’ve had to protect myself from these stories lately.  I don’t read the news nearly as often as I did before.  I hid all the Trisomy 18 posts.  It just hurts too much.  My thoughts and prayers are with Oscar’s family tonight.

Writing has been healing to me throughout this journey.  I started the original blog to keep everyone updated on Zoey’s condition. It was a way to give accurate information without repeating it constantly.  But it grew from there and became a place for me to express how I was feeling as we dealt with the fear and uncertainty of her diagnosis.  There’s a level of safety you can achieve when not looking at someone.  If you’re judging my thoughts and decisions, I can’t see it on your face.  If you’re giving me the “sad eyes”, I can’t see those either.  And on the other side, the sweet comments that people leave help me feel loved, but I’m saved from needing to respond.  After losing Zoey, I felt I needed to keep writing and found Project Heal.  I was worried that my thoughts and writing would be very scattered so having the prompts each day has given me direction and allowed me to explore places I otherwise may not have given much thought.

I’ve also been running again.  As you know if you’ve been following the blog, I am running the Disney Princess half marathon in February in honor of Zoey.  I took more than a year off from running so it feels like I’m starting from scratch.  And I’ve never been a “good” runner anyway– I’m slow, it hurts, etc…  But that’s not why I do it.  As soon as I started hitting the pavement again, I remembered why I put in all those miles before.  It’s therapy with friends.  The one who gets up early and meets me before work suffered great losses recently as well. I can talk with her and not worry that she’s going to have me committed.  When I’m running alone like this weekend, it’s my time to process.  It’s often where I write these blogs in my head.  When it’s been hard and I feel myself getting weak, I say Zoey’s name. Sometimes repeatedly. She reminds me to keep going.

I imagine the tools I use to heal will change with time.  I feel as long as I’m finding a little light everyday and I keep trying to make my way back to being joyful and content in this life, I’m “okay”.

Day 25: Mother Earth


Before Zoey passed away I told her all about my “Grandma Ring”, the great-grandmother I spent so much time with as a child. I told Zoey how she would make me French Toast or fried chicken anytime I asked. About how we’d walk to the Troy park and stop for a chocolate dipped ice cream cone on our way home.  And how she could grow anything, anywhere. Soon after Zoey died, my grandmother had a dream.  While I’m sure I don’t have all the details, it went something like this: my grandma saw clouds passing by.  Looking closer, she saw a butterfly.  As the dream goes on, she realized the butterfly was in Zoey’s hair, and Zoey was sitting in Grandma Ring’s lap. The day we took Zoey to the park, we found a patch of the “spider plant” flowers that always remind me of Grandma Ring so I planted those seeds today in our backyard.  When they sprout next spring, they’ll remind me of that dream and I’ll picture Zoey sitting in Grandma Ring’s lap.

I also planted the anchor seed paper we gave to those who attended Zoey’s memorial service.

In December, we’ll take Zoey’s ashes to Ocho Rios, Jamaica where we were married. Her ashes are in biodegradable turtles and we’ll release them into the Caribbean Sea.  We’ll give her body to Mother Earth.  Anytime we look to the water, anywhere in the world, we’ll know she’s there too.



Day 24: Forgiveness


I learned long ago that harboring anger over the small things is a waste of time.  Sure, I may rant, get it off my mind but I rarely carry it with me for long.  The people who have been insensitive to us: I chalk it up to not knowing any better.  Most have not intentionally set out to inflict pain. It just happens.

It’s the big things that are harder to wrap your mind around.  And to release.  But just how do you forgive when you’re not even sure who or what to blame?  Do I blame God?  I’ve had moments.  But I’m holding out hope that I’ll understand some day.  Mother nature? The universe?  I’ve never really fully placed the blame there.

Myself?  Was I too old to have a baby? Did I do something wrong somewhere along the line that caused my DNA to do this to my child?  The genetic counselors have reassured me that it’s just bad luck.  We were not responsible.  But tell that to the voice in your head. It was my job to protect Zoey.  Did I fail her?  Is there more I should have done?  Did I miss something that could have kept her with us one more day?  Did I cause her any pain?  I fought for the feeding tube that she pulled out.  Was she telling me? Did I not listen to her closely enough?

I feel guilt for bringing pain to Joe and our families.

To be clear, I do not regret having Zoey.  But the truth is there are moments where I’ve second guessed every decision.  I wanted no regrets. And I have no regrets about the way Zoey was loved.  None.  But you can’t always stop the voice in your head that says you failed.  I know that being angry at God, the universe and myself will not bring her back.  But those thoughts are part of the darkness that I’m roaming around in– that I fight.  Most of the time I feel I’m sufficiently focusing on the joy Zoey brought to us.  And I would never want her looking down on me thinking I regretted one moment with her.  I loved my daughter wholly, completely and without reservation.  Maybe knowing that is how I forgive myself for not being able to save her.

Day 23: Inspiration

Waymire, Dawn 08162014 (18)b

Inspiration: “A person, place, experience, etc… that makes someone want to do something”

The definition leaves much room for exploration.  I’ll start with “place”. The ocean inspires me: to explore, to wonder what else is out there, to realize I’m so very small in a world so large. It inspires me to find peace.

I’m inspired by my mom and grandma. They’ve both lost so much in their lives. Dealt with hardships.  They continue to love, to give their hearts away even with their intimate knowledge of loss. They weren’t handed beautiful lives: they created them.

I’m inspired by the moms that have walked this road before me. They make their lives purposeful.  They fight every day to find meaning. They risk so much to reach out to others. They give their children a voice.  And give other women hope.

I’m inspired by my daughter and by the experience of being her mom. I may never publish a book or start a foundation, but she will impact me every day for the rest of my life. I will be a better person because I’m Zoey’s mom. She gives me strength and helps me find the words to share our story. She gives me the courage to speak.  She taught me to love more deeply. Protect more fiercely. Believe in more than what you can see.   I’m inspired by her beauty– and not just the beauty on the outside, but the beauty that radiates from within. I may never know what her favorite color would have been or if she’d prefer chocolate or vanilla ice cream, but I looked into those blue eyes and knew her.  And knew she had a purpose greater than what I could ever comprehend.  I saw her heart. Her soul.  And she inspires me to fight for a beautiful life too.

Waymire, Dawn 08162014 (33)b

Day 22: Self-Care


I’ve always been good at taking care of myself– or at least good at doing what I want, when I want. It’s actually one of the things that most concerned me before having Zoey. I wondered if I was too selfish to have a child.  I enjoyed going to the gym, shopping and baking.  And the beach.  Joe and I were always looking for ways to get back to the water.  But after Zoey arrived, I felt like I easily settled into life with her and didn’t miss those other things the way I thought I would.  Sure I had to get out sometimes, but it always caused a lot of anxiety.  I was much more content at home cuddling with my girl.

I’ve been in a mood the past few days– and not a good one.  I’m having trouble shaking it. I’m annoyed, restless, cranky.  I don’t like being in this place.  I met a friend this morning before work to start training for Zoey’s race.  I took in the crisp fall air and felt good that I was back running after a year away.  But as soon as I got back home, the mood settled back in.  I went shopping.  Despite a new dress, I’m still irritated, anxious.  I had a new recipe to try.  But even salted caramel chocolate chip cookies could not heal me.

Joe and I are planning our next vacation.  To the beach, of course.  But even that doesn’t hold the same allure as it once did.  And there are implications with this trip.  We’re planning on taking her ashes.  And I know that these are all things I would not be doing if Zoey was here.  I’d trade them all in a heartbeat.  I miss her more than I’ve ever missed the beach.

I just don’t want to stay in this place for too long. I don’t want the mood to settle. I will always carry her loss with me, so I at least want to carry it gracefully. I think I’ll look through some of her photos. Watch a video or two.  As much as it hurts to do those things, it also helps reset my perspective. Reminds me to live a more purposeful, meaningful life.

Zoey & sharon

I love this picture of Zoey and my mom.  I can imagine they conversation they are having.  Grandma is telling her something and she obviously does not agree.  I’m sure you can guess who wins.