Join Zoey’s Crew!

Zoey's crew

I thought after everything that has happened, that after losing my daughter, I would be numb to any other pain.  Turns out that is not the case.  This morning I went downstairs to feed the cats and found Kiki, my companion of more than 15 years, dead.  And it hurt.  Instead of being numb today, I am just exhausted.

Thankfully I’ve had something to focus some of my attention on and continue to do so today.  I’ve been training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February and working on a t-shirt design for those that would like to show their support and help honor Zoey.  And since I am blessed with amazing friends (even though I doubt their sanity at times), a “virtual” walk/run has also been organized.  Please see the link for more information and the order form for t-shirts and medals.

Zoey’s Crew Order form

Thank you all for your continued words of encouragement, support and love.


The holidays


Merry Christmas

Happy New Year

I realize these are just things people say—much like “how are you”.  But let’s be honest: the chances of me having a “merry” Christmas were somewhere around zero percent this year.  Not a chance.  My daughter died four months ago today.  She’s now been gone longer than I had her.  When others were complaining about their lack of sleep because of the excited little ones in the house, I was desperately missing my child.  My heart sank every time I saw a little girl in a little red bow or patent leather shoes.  I ache for sleepless nights and an excited child.  Instead of waking up to the delighted squeals of an eight month old, I slept in and went for a run.  Not the Christmas of my dreams.  Maybe that sounds good to those of you who were up all night and had tiny little faces urging you out of bed, but I assure you: I wish I was you. I wouldn’t trade you—no, I wouldn’t wish this pain upon anyone.  But I wish Zoey was here.

On Christmas Eve, I realized I didn’t get Zoey anything. And I felt like a terrible mother.  I got online and ordered an ornament engraved with her name.  I know that no one else would have noticed anything missing, but it mattered to me.  And so on Christmas Eve, Joe and I went to the mall to pick up a silver butterfly with her name etched on the front (and an anchor on the back). Because that’s all I had.  That’s all I could do.

I cried holding it—running my finger over her name.  And I left the room crying when my cousin’s little girl received one of the books we read to Zoey (The Day the Crayons Quit). It was one of my favorites.  And I wanted to jump out of my skin when my happy nephews ran into the room excitedly telling us what Santa brought them—because Zoey wasn’t there.  And I always imagined her running after them, trying to keep up despite their age difference.  And she never will be there.  For every Christmas here on, I will wonder what would have been.  How happy we could have been.

Chances for a Happy New Year look bleak too. I went to a support group meeting and the leader who I’ve spoken to before noted she feels I’ve “hit a wall”. That perhaps I’m not coping as well as before.  Maybe it’s just the holidays where reminders are constantly thrown in your face. Maybe the shock has worn off.  And the thing is, she’s right.  I’m having a much harder time finding shreds of happiness.  I have to fight harder to fake it.  The insensitive things that people have done and said hurt me more deeply. When you’re completely exhausted from grief, there are only so many things you can ignore.  And so many times you can put on a brave face.  Every day is a fight not to give in to the aching.  I know I am better for the time I spent with my sweet little angel, but I miss her.  Terribly, completely, overwhelmingly.

So if you ask, I may tell you my Christmas was “fine”.  But it was not.  It was empty.  So very empty.


I’m still training for the Disney Princess race. I found a “hidden Mickey” on my Christmas morning run.  Yes, I realize it’s just a water/oil spot but I’m trying to find any bright spot that I can.  And sometimes those spots come in the form of a stain on the road.  I’ll take what I can get.

I’m having a hard time scraping up the energy to find any joy this Christmas season. That’s what all the grief support pamphlets and articles tell you– “find the small moments”.  But Zoey is missing from the small moments too.  Every time I drive in the evenings, I think about how her eyes would have lit up taking in the sparkle of the lights.  I wish I had packages under the tree with her name on them.  But I didn’t even put up a tree this year.  I wonder if she would have cried on Santa’s lap; although I doubt it since she let Fredbird grab her away from me and only yawned at him. I wish this was the first year I would have sent Christmas cards, but now I don’t know if I ever will.  Because no matter what happens, she’ll always be missing.  I fear no one else will notice her absence at family gatherings in the coming years.  But for the rest of my life, I will. I know the real reason for Christmas isn’t the presents and the lights, but I can’t help but miss her so desperately when surrounded by these things.  And honestly, believing that she’s in a beautiful place with so many others that I love is the only thing that gets me through some days.



After I wrote this, I went downstairs and dug out the little tree I decorated with pink ornaments last year.  I decided that instead of just having the ornaments that have been given to us for Zoey sitting on the mantle, they should at least be put on a small tree.  The butterfly on top matches the one my mom took to the cemetery where my dad is buried. They show me that she is remembered and loved.



Joe and I just returned from Ocho Rios, Jamaica.  We went to the resort where we got married so we could spread Zoey’s ashes somewhere with meaning.  Here are my journal entries from those days:

Monday, December 8: 


We’re going to spread Zoey’s ashes today.  It’s been raining all morning, but hoping it breaks soon. I’d like the day to be as beautiful as my daughter.  I took yoga here at the resort this morning. The instructor was a stereotypical Rastafarian: tall, thin, dreadlocks to the floor.  He talked a lot about finding your peace and letting mother earth in.  It’s much harder to find peace knowing in a few hours you’ll be releasing your infant daughter’s ashes into the water.  Joe and I keep telling ourselves it’s just a ceremony. But I can’t help the anxiety and the overwhelming sadness at letting this part of her go.  And I have a million thoughts rushing in my mind: do I take pictures of the turtle urns at the beach? Do we say anything as we put them in the water?  Should I cut slits in the turtles beforehand so they sink faster or let them be?  Is it tacky to wear a swimsuit to spread your child’s ashes?  What if they wash up on shore or a snorkeler finds them before they biodegrade completely?  Is this the right spot? Am I ready to let them go?  Once again I’m left with irrational questions and no good answers.  I wanted the sun to be shining.. but like my tears the rain is still falling.


We gave our baby girl’s body back to the earth today.  Like the entire of experience of having her and losing her, it feels surreal.  A dream.  Caught somewhere between bliss and a nightmare.

We set off in a boat from the same beach where Joe and I were married six years ago.  But it’s different this time.

The two employees from the resort took us out not too far from the resort and marked the location.  One sang. Another said a prayer.  And I cried as I held onto the bag that held the turtles and the last physical remainder of my daughter.  We decided to put slits in the turtles so we could be assured they would sink and not be disturbed.  There were two so Joe and I each took one, kissed them and placed them in the water.  We watched them as they bobbed in the water for a few minutes. They disappeared only for us to see them on the other side of the boat.  Despite the rain, I wanted to stay until they both slipped under.  Eventually one began to sink and disappeared from our view. The other remained stubbornly floating.  I had no sense of time, but I know a significant amount passed and the little turtle continued to float.  I mentioned that Zoey stubbornly held on a two extra weeks from her due date so it seemed appropriate that her ashes stayed longer than we expected as well. Eventually they moved the boat closer, Joe grabbed it out of the water and we were able to put a larger slit in the bottom.  After placing it back in, it slipped easily under.  My baby was gone.

I’m sitting here on the beach listening to the waves as the sun sets.  My heart is broken. I look back at all that’s happened in the years since we were last here and I can’t believe the path our lives have taken.  I don’t regret it.  I don’t regret having her. As Joe and I were wading in the water yesterday I told him that I adored being her mom.  I know I’ve said it before, but I was never sure about having children before Zoey.  But now I’m sure I was meant to be her mom.  And I miss her so desperately.  I miss her soft little coos.  The way she’d squirm when she was hungry.  The furrowed brow. The looks she’d give us.  Those piercing blue eyes and the softest little feet I’ve ever touched.  I miss everything about that perfect little girl.

Joe said we look different from everyone else here.  You can only hide the sadness, the desperation for so long. Our swollen, red eyes betray us.

After we walked the beach for a bit (I had to ease my mind that the turtles had not washed up further down the beach) we looked out on the horizon.  Joe pointed out a rainbow “spot” — just a small little prism. I like to think it was the spot above where the turtles slipped under.  A spot of beauty– small and brief like her life but no less beautiful.

I miss you baby girl.  I love you more than words could ever explain. I hope you enjoy the sea as much as we do.  I promise to keep loving you, keep living for you.  Have fun with the turtles and dolphins and play in the waves. You’ll always be with me.

December 12

I’d hoped this trip would bring me peace.  That setting Zoey’s body free would help close the wound.  I’m not so sure I was successful.  Now it’s hard to leave. And not for the usual reasons: nice weather, palm trees, and the sea.  But because I’ve left a piece of me here. The physical remains of my daughter will always be here.  A place I can’t visit on a whim.  I like to think the water will carry her everywhere…but still…

And the time to just sit and reflect reveals more wounds.  Cracks in more than just my heart.  Everything has changed: relationships with family and friends are different.  There’s guilt.  Questions.  Our marriage has changed. Thinks I hadn’t noticed before.  And the exhaustion.  Sometimes I feel the energy it takes to resist the urge to jump from that cliff leaves me depleted. Sometimes there’s nothing left.


Zoey’s turtles



Looking out to the spot where we released Zoey’s ashes


As we were writing Zoey’s name in the sand, we noticed a rainbow. It appeared to start from the spot we released her ashes. I like to think she was telling us she’s ok.  And she’s not alone.

Waymire, Dawn 08162014 (42)b 13


Moments that break you


I came home from a long day and went through the mail. An envelope from Wings was in the stack.  I assumed it was another booklet on “how to survive the holidays”, but it was their annual magazine. I flipped through and a few pages in, I came across a photo of my precious little girl.  One of the social workers from Wings was putting Zoey’s footprints in one of our favorite books.  At first I was excited to see her story included. And then it hit me. That’s all I get. A story of a beautiful life that was.  My daughter in the past.  My daughter in a magazine dedicated to dying children.  I’ll tell her story a million times if I can, but it will always be in the past tense.  I won’t see her name in her kindergarten program.  Or in the school paper for making the honor roll.  Her wedding announcement.  Turns out I didn’t need another booklet on how to survive the holidays. I needed one on how to survive today.