I am a Sweetheart to One and a Mommy to Four Loveable Babes, one of which is smiling down on us from Heaven. I am learning to dance in the rain. Come with me on my journey as I make the most out of Life's mud puddles.

Put on your rain boots. Great adventure lies ahead.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ode to Sunset View Drive

It was May 2008. David had just graduated from Purdue and our family was getting ready to relocate after one of the most trying years of our life. Grace (our then 4 year old) had been fighting a rare form of pneumonia that nearly took her life. After a month in the Children's Hospital (most of the time spent in the ICU) and after 6 months of quarantine and treatments at home, we were ready for a change of scenery. And nothing says change like a move!

We arrived at our "dream home" worn out, exhausted yet full of hope and promise. It had been a tough year. A year we didn't want to relive. But we had made it. The best was yet to come.

With a new babe in arms, we started to put down roots in our new home, neighborhood and congregation with our three little ones. This was it. We were here for the long haul.

Four months later, we learned we were expecting. A shock, to say the least. Ashton was just 7 months old and we were still leery of our daughter's health condition. But a baby was on its way. And - after we wrapped our minds around the unexpected gift - we were thrilled.

Months later, we learned it was a Boy. Two girls and two boys! YAY! We were thrilled. What a gift to have a little brother and playmate for Ashton. As Mary Poppins says, this was going to be "practically perfect in every way."

And so it was. Our little boy joined our family May 31, 2009 and was named Bennett. From the moment he was put in our arms, everything felt so right. Our combined love for him filled our home with joy. Everyone LOVED Bennett.

During the next 20 months, many milestones took place on Sunset View Drive. Bennett's first smile, his first giggle, his first crawl, his first traverse down the staircase, his first steps, his first words (debated if it was Mama or Dada), his first true love (my sister Katie), his favorite discovered hobby (sweeping the floor), his favorite game (hide and go seek), his favorite song (HIS song), his favorite cheer (YOU ROCK!), his favorite bath time and bedtime rituals and his first best friend (his brother Ashton). So many sweet things happened in those short 20 months. So. Many. Things.

And then came the morning of January 22, 2011. Those same walls that had reverberated with giggles and song seemed to be suffocating and stifling with the tragic events of the day. Where we had gently tucked him in the night before, caressed by Mommy's kisses and lullabies, we found him lifeless. Taken to his Heavenly Home by Angels hours before. It was too much to take in. Just. Too. Much.

And yet, the edifice stood. The Home held its ground and bore the weight of the Grief we were heaving. It seemed to feel the extremities we were facing and even seemed to breath in and out with us. It was a place of Grief, a place of Healing, a place of Safety, a place of Love and a place of Peace.

What a Gift.

In the coming weeks, we discussed whether we should continue to sell our Sunset View Drive home (it had been on the market since late fall). After much contemplation, discussion and prayer, we decided that the reasons for selling our home last fall still existed and that it would be in the best interest of our family to continue our quest to move.

Since then, some - not knowing the needs of our family - have questioned our decision to sell. A few have thought we were running away from our grief and that ours was a rash decision. To that I reply, there is no where that far. Our reality is our reality no matter where we go. We are not running from our memories, we are going with them. Our love, our loss, our gratitude and our grief will follow us no matter where we go. They are a part of us and we are a part of them. And that's the way it should be.

That said, the last few months have been grueling. Going through cupboards and drawers and moving furniture unearthed a lot of triggers. A sock of Bennett's there, a tiny shoe found underneath the couch, his Tow Mater truck found in a drawer (where he surely was playing) and - the biggest - a previously undiscovered crayon drawing of his in back of the giant armoire (his favorite hiding place). All of these findings echoed that he lived and that he was. There's not enough of those reminders in our world, let me tell ya.

Monday night, we took our family to the home one last time. We recorded the kids climbing their favorite tree in the backyard, playing four square in the now-bare front room, recalling favorite memories in our kitchen and sharing tender feelings of their little brother in the nursery. It so reflected the spectrum of our experience. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" . . . It was perfect.

So now we go forward. In Life, I have learned many things. But I have learned more in the last six months than my previous thirty four years combined. The tuition has been high, but we have received quite the education. Here is what I have learned on Sunset View Drive.

I have learned that People and not Things are what is truly important.
I have learned that it is not the size of your dwelling but the people you live with that truly make a Home.
I have learned that you can never say "I love you" too many times.
I have learned that blogging is great, but living in the moment is better.
I have learned to never take things for granted.
I have learned to never put off a dream because tomorrow is not a guarantee.
I have learned that God sends angels - both from Heaven and Earth - to bear you up when you feel like you just can't do it anymore.
I have learned that I need to be one of His Angels.
I have learned that the little things make a difference.
I have learned that you never can take too many pictures.
I have learned for myself that Death has no effect on family ties and relationships. They continue beyond the grave. I. Know. That.
I have learned that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me - truly loves me - and is involved with the details of my Life.
And - last of all - I have learned that I may not understand or choose everything that happens in my Life, but I do have absolute control of what I do with those things. And that makes all the difference.

And so goodbye, Sunset View Drive. We won't go far. You will always be just a memory away and will always hold a special place in our hearts.


  1. It is so difficult when others make comments when they cannot comprehend the decisions we make. Hopefully, in my "old" age I'm becoming better at realizing that my judgements do little to help.

    I cannot imagine the tidal wave of emotions that you are surely going through during this transition. There are many who are thinking and praying for you.

  2. I so know that feeling of attachment to a home. Those memories always go with you, but when you come back to visit it is so gratifying. Thank you for sharing this! I am sure you are doing what is best for your family even when debating the meaning and purpose.

    I have to tell you, when we were kids my mom always sang us two songs. They were written by individuals from the time of my grandma's childhood. One is of a woman who lost her 2-3 year old boy and I can't help but to think of you when I sing that song. If you are interested in the lyrics please email haolepinos{@}gmail{.}com me and I can send them to you. They never became famous and to my knowledge they are not searchable because they weren't recorded. They have just been passed down in our family. Anyways just let me know if you are interested.

  3. Your words are so genuine and your thoughts provoking. I love your list of learning. I can relate to many of them and they are inspiring as I try to sort through my own emotions of loss over the last several months.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. I just love your blog! I'm so glad you're back and willing to share all that you've learned. It's so inspiring.

  5. So beautifully said--I am teary! I pray your new home finds many "best of times" as well. Surely your little angel will be there watching over your family with his sweet presence!
    Much love,
    Jenny B.

  6. Beautiful, Mandy! A wonderful ode. You all are so brave and faithful. Good luck in the months ahead! I agree, it is the people that make the home...no matter where you are. So excited to see your finished home and what you do with it. What a fun adventure. Much love, as always.

  7. Wonderful, visual post. I am glad that you survived the move. I hope that you can spend the last few weeks of summer enjoying your kids and also now giving yourself time to truly mourn without a showing to clean for. My thoughts are with you my dear friend.


Thank you for being a part of my journey. I appreciate your supportive and healing comments. Here's to a Promise of Sunshine!