Josh posting

I just wanted to give you a few more details...

 For the first two weeks Shelly was feeling better every day.  Some people said that she was up and around too much, but she was really just being Shelly.  This past Sunday she started feeling a little bit of pain near one of her incisions.  She made nothing of it at first, but by Monday morning it was pretty bad.  I told her to go into a med center. They wouldn't treat her there so she went to the ER.  Once at the ER they gave her a CAT scan and an ultrasound.  They were thinking it could be an abscess, a hernia, or an infection.  It was none of those.

 Before she left, I reminded her to tell the doctors what happened in her abdomen 10 years ago.  About a decade ago Shelly had her gallbladder and appendix out.  Over the next few months she had some unexplained pain in her abdomen.  It got so bad that eventually Shelly's parents put her on a plane to Mayo Clinic.  Once there, what had been undiagnosed pain for several months was quickly healed with a shot of cortisone right into her surgery area.

 We told the doctors about this on Monday, and by Wednesday they had ruled out everything else.  Shelly has been on narcotic pain medication up until today when they switched her to oral pain medication in preparation for sending her back home... and no treatment yet, just pain meds.

 The "pain clinic" came in to do a workup on giving her a shot.  But for some strange reason they cannot operate inside the hospital.  Shelly will have to get an appointment with the "pain clinic" after she gets out.  Their first opening date is June 9.  This is just not acceptable.  Why did she need to sit at home drugged up for 10 days before she can get the shot that took four hours to get a decade ago?  I am very very frustrated.

 Yesterday, Jean alluded to another situation I'm pretty frustrated about.  My kids need to feel like they can have a normal routine at home.  They are missing end of the school year zoo trips and picnics because of this.  I was lucky that Zoe told me about her end of the school year program today, or I would've missed that too.  The conversation went like this,


"Daddy, do I have school tomorrow?"

"No baby, today is your last day for the whole year."

"Oh.  We are having a program with a CD with all the songs on it and we are dancing and stuff and all the mommies and daddies are coming.  So you'll have to get somebody to bring you, right daddy?"

"Umm... absolutely baby."


They just need a normal routine.  They are very resilient, and are very strong.  But they are dealt with more than many of us deal with our whole lives.  I just want them to be kids.

Pray for us.  Pray that we have enough of volunteers to get us through to whenever Shelly can be back up to speed.  Pray for Zach and Rachel as a spearhead the charge while looking for jobs!

I don't know why we continue to roll out difficulty after difficulty around here, but I'm sick of it.

 I don't know what this means spiritually yet. I don't think I'm supposed to.  I know that I'm still on God's team.  I know he has a plan, and I want to be a part of that plan... no matter what that part is.  But I would be nuts if I didn't admit that sometimes I feel like our family is the team whipping boy.  Forget the big plans and grand schemes... just give me a mundane and average for a couple decades.

 Sorry to vent.  Shelly does it sometimes, so I guess it was my turn.  Pray for us.


This is Shelly's mom, Jean, reporting in for her. She told me this evening to post some information. She is currently in the hospital again, has been there since Monday, with complications from her surgery a few weeks ago. She asks for prayer for her quick recovery, for the kids and Josh at home, and for our angels of mercy Zach and Rachel who have again stepped in to hold down the home front. Shelly and Josh are both having a difficult time dealing with this latest challenge. The why question has popped up. Mostly they are both concerned for kids who need to know life can be "normal." Pray for all of us, OK? We're dependent on those of you who hold us up before a God whose ways we don't always understand.

I have 4 kids

Things on the homefront continue on as normal. Josh's mom and dad are in town for the holiday weekend. We will be cooking out with friends tomorrow here at the house. Josh and I have always loved entertaining, and that has not changed since the accident. We are looking forward to it.

So, today I was posed an interesting question that I seem to encounter very regularly. When other mothers see you out and about with a child or children, you are often asked how many children you have. After almost three years, I still do not have a great answer for that one.  I have read of many mothers who have no problem with answering.  Some answer with the number of children they have living, others just say the total number.  Me, I'm a total number girl.  The only problem is- sometimes the conversation continues to how old are they? Hmmm.. this one always gets me a bit nervous cause I realize this could lead into an uncomfortable conversation.  I have even met one that says she has "two that walk and one that flies." I am not really comfortable with this answer.  I'm still at the point where I usually say 4 unless I figure we may have time for the converstation to continue.

Just 3 weeks after Ava died, we went to some friends for dinner.  They had some neighbors stop by to see our friend's new baby girl.  When they were leaving they asked how many children we had and Josh replied two.  I thought I was going to puke and punch him at the same time.  I felt like we were not acknowledging who she is in our lives.  Now, after almost 3 years, I find myself doing the same thing at times.

I remember reading somewhere that losing your parents is like losing your past, but losing your child is like losing your future.  This really captures how I felt soon after we lost Ava.  It left so many questions in my mind, what were we going to do now, would we move back to the home where she died, would our kids remember their little sister (I now see this is my responsibility)?  How was I going to continue on living and still be a mom who functioned for the rest of the kids.  I didn't want my kids to look back at this time and think, "this is when we lost my mom, not just my sister."  I still desired for my kids to have a happy childhood. I wanted my kids to be able to look back and see how present the Lord was through this ordeal, how he continued to be faithful to us even when we couldn't see it through our sorrow.

I realize now how differently Josh and I reacted to Ava's death emotionally. This was addressed while we went to see an amazing Christian counselor for a few months. There were so many feelings hurt, so many things we wished we could have done different, but the past was over and we couldn't change them.  But we could change how we started hadling the future. We realized it seemed a little screwed up, but if we wanted to continue our friendships with those who had fallen off the map, it was us who were going to have to make the effort.  I really balked at this idea and then realized I was just being totally selfish. Just because I lost a child did not give me permission to become self-involved.

Josh and I made a promise to each other, less than 8 hours after Ava died, that we would talk to each other.  There were so many horrible things running through my mind that I would never have admitted out loud.  Josh started by saying something that I couldn't believe he would admit and it opened up a huge door of communication for us.  I remember admitting to thoughts that I couldn't believe I had, but I did.  

One other thing we said from the start was we were going to cling to God, knowing he had a plan- even if we couldn't see it. I knew I was not going to like his plan, I never would, but I have never doubted that God knows better than I do. Yes, I still want Ava back into our family, but this is not possible during our Earthly life.  I believe, 100%, that we will again be reunited with her. This life is just a blink of an eye, I will have plently of time to enjoy her come heaven. 

A guide

I'm sure by now most of you have heard that the Christian artist, Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter Maria died yesterday after being run over by a car.  Josh brought this to my attention this morning and it has occupied my thoughts ever since. It makes me feel such empathy for this family, knowing what they have ahead of them.

The overwhelming void that filled my entire being was all I could think about. I didn't dare shut my eyes because of the images that filled them when they were closed were too horrifying to recall. The loneliness while surrounded by all our loved ones did little to ease the pain. Eating was out of the question.  I decided to drink black coffee because I liked it with cream.  I wanted to do things differently, observe my pain in some inadequate way.  I have read of another person doing this after grief. Guess I'm not so odd after all.  Life took on a before and after era.  Before Ava's accident and after. I remember watching Josh sleep the first night after she died and being amazed he could sleep.  I was thankful that he could have a few minutes of escape. I recall sitting upstairs around 4 a.m., at my parent's house, with my mom, Holly and Josh's mom and just sitting there not knowing what to do.  At times this desperate feeling that I needed to just DO something was overwhelming.  I would pace and just yank at my hair, trying to make things right in my head. I wish could words could do justice to an emotion that I pray none of you will ever have to face.

Right now, I know what a family is experiencing, to a certain extent. Every story is different. Every person is different. But every Christian needs to make a willful decision to trust God. No matter how angry I go, no matter how little I understood, I knew deep down that my getting through this was not going to be successful if I didn't just lean on him. Those first few days, it was very hard to pray. It became more like guttural cries to a heavenly father who knew I was hurting. It meant acknowledging that God knew this was the plan for Ava from the start, but being really ticked. Ticked just doesn't do it any justice. Pissed, I was pissed. Why would God do this and what kind of a God was he to allow this to happen. I knew he could take my anger and my questions.  But could I?  Was I willing to really hear the truth if it wasn't what I wanted to hear. I can say that nearly three years later that I still don't like the plan, nor do I like how it has affected my life, but I trust in an Almighty Father whose desire is to bring other's close to him. 

There are various times when I realize that the memories are growing hazier, easier to deal with. Losing Ava is not the very first thing I think of when my feet hit the floor. I would say rarely does 10 minutes go by when I don't think of her after waking. Just recently, I got out one too many bowls for the dinner table (I got out 5 and only needed 4. Ephram is not eating out of a bowl just yet). It's been three years, and we didn't have her with us too long, but it shows how much a part of us she still is.

It is my desire for Ephram to realize that he is not a replacement. God knew from the beginning that he would be part of our family.  I want him to grow up feeling like he has an extra special place in our family- that he was God's gift to us, out of pain and suffering came joy and restoration. Who could ask for a better gift?

As time has passed many of my friends said how they were so unsure what to say and what to do.  I thought I may be able to give some words that may be helpful if they are anything like me.  Number one, I knew Ava was in a better place.  I didn't need people telling me that- I wanted her here with me.  That comment came as a slap in the face many times. That whole "she's in a better place" could well be saved for a few months down the road. Number two, "you can always have more children."  At this point, I didn't want more children, I wanted Ava. Number three- "I lost my grandma (aunt, uncle, cousin 68 year old mother) last month, I know what you're going through." I hated that one. Until you have lost a child, you don't know. Just like I don't know what it's like to lose a mother or father at a young age, or be a child who has lost a sibling. Don't claim to understand unless you really do.  I clung to those who had lost a child and the knowledge and advice they could give me. Lastly, I know Ava was young. Those who had had early miscarriages cannot possibly know the grief of losing a living child, or of a having a birth where the baby was too young to survive.  We held our babies. We saw their faces, Saw the potential for life. Don't get me wrong, I know miscarriage is heartbreaking, but please don't compare it.  Comparisons are nasty, especially at the beginning of the grieving process.

So, what can you do?  The day that Ava died, people started pouring in.  All of these people needed to be fed and it was the last thing on my mind.  One of my best friends quietly showed up, ordered pizza, lasagna, and salad and had it out for those who felt they could eat. I got a huge box full of toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, cups, utensils and more Kleenex than we thought was necessary (only to find out it was).  We used up every last one of those Kleenex. Someone brought treats for the kids, juice boxed, frozen kids meals, kids movies and easy toys for the kids to stay occupied with. Most of the time you want your living children around you but you are not really concious of what they need all the time. These things helped a ton the first weeks. 

So, what did people say or do that helped and didn't hurt?  It seemed like the less they said the better. Not because of what they said may offend me but because the hurt is so great, words often seem inadequate. Hugs, hugs, hugs.  I just needed to feel the comfort of those around me. If you're a praying person, tell them you'll pray for them, but only if you really will. :-) Start calling them.  We screened more phone calls than you can imagine but seeing your name pop up on my caller i.d. made me aware that you were reaching out. A few weeks out, some people stopped calling, the uncomfortable feelings of what they were going to say became too strong (the only reason I know this is because of conversations with friends over the past three years). Call anyway.  I spent numerous days wondering why they didn't call and so I didn't call. Didn't we have a closer relationship than I had thought? Err on calling too much. They won't call you back if they really don't want to talk.  Thank goodness for the 21st Century blessing of caller i.d. 

I hope this hasn't come off as harsh or as though the ones that helped us after Ava died did it all wrong. That could not be further from the truth. We had an incredible support system that continues to this day. I know so many of you pray for us as we continue down this journey along with the new journey of Josh in a wheelchair. 

Yes, life is complicated. But it is so short in the grand scheme of things. I know I will soon again be with my little girl and all of this grief and trusting will be truly worthwhile.

back home from the hospital

It's nice to be home. I came home yesterday in the late afternoon. Because Ephram is still not feeling great, the two of us stayed home from church and sent the rest of the troops on.  Noah and Zoe came home talking about Paul and Silas and how their chains fell off!!! They were so excited about it and telling me the story. Noah was still talking about it this morning. I love hearing them getting so excited about the Bible. We spent the day doing lots of laying around. We did some slow work and my Aunt Jill came over to lend a helping hand. I'm not supposed to lift Ephram yet (6 weeks according to the nurse that called today) but that goes over like a lead balloon in this momma's mind. We relaxed together on the couch and took a nap together. Now Sheena is here from Kalamazoo to hang out for a few days. It's been a nice day.

I realized how proud I am of Josh today. We were talking to a friend who told us about an acquaintance of hers who is dealing with paralysis. This guy is having a really hard time (obviously so) but it made me realize how much Josh has just pushed on. Even when he feels like giving up and I get disheartened, he continues to get up every morning, not lay in bed all day, and at least attempt to live this new life. I hear how many others who are in the same boat as him just give up, don't really "live." I am the proud wife of a roller, who has decided to keep on going, even when it's tough.

Momma Time

I've gotten numerout comments asking how my mom is faring.  She continues to heal well, slowly but surely.  I may even surpass here in the recovery process over the next few days! :-)  She is doing a great job taking care of me- dragging me to garage sales when I have an hours energy, or taking me to Hobby Lobby to look at stuff for the kids new rooms. We're definitely from the same mold. We have been having lots of fun. They are now out in Grand Haven having their first camping excursion of the year  and they couldn't be more excited. She actually said she was more excited about this trip than their trips earlier this year to the Bahamas and Mexico. I thought she may have taken a few too many pain meds...

On another note, we finally got news of what the next step is in regard to her treatment. She met with the oncologist earlier this week.  The doctor said (summarily), "Go home, live your life. You're cancer free!"  There are no more treatments, no chemo, no radiation, no nohting.  They are not even putting her on the cancer drug (not sure the name of it cause that's all my mom calls it) because it is used to fight cancer in the breasts and ovaries and she has neither! The doctor said that would be sort of a waste. My mom came out of that appointment feeling like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Now all she has to do is regain all her strength and she'll be good as new.  She rocks. I wanna be like her someday (minus the cancer of course!). Thanks for all your prayers for her.

the home front

Just you know, this is the second posting of the day so read on if you didn't catch the first.

I took a quick trip home yesterday to see my kiddos.  The two older kids are doing great, staying busy, and loving that they had Zach and Rachel to play with and now Grandma Buck has come! Does life get any better for a 4 and a 5 year old? Ephram is struggling with a virus which is not allowing Grandma B. to get too much sleep.  He is running a high temp and just fussy all around. I saw him last night and had the chance to just hold him while he lays his sweet little head of my shoulder. He was not too fussy when I was there, but I know he was having a good few hours.  I left about 6:30 and the little guy was ready to head off to bed. We did take him in because we were afraid it was his ears again (he is still on antibiotics from the last ear infection) but thankfully, it was not. The doctor said he just caught a virus so we will just let it run it's course.

Please be praying that Josh's mom can get enough sleep and feel like she can keep up with the craziness while at our home. She usually has the help of her hubby but he is off in Europe teaching a class.  Poor him right? :-) He loves his job and rightfully so.  Anyway, she will be doing all the work and needs an extra dose of stamina to get her through the next few days. Please keep her in your prayers.

Shelly reporting in

Since my husband hasn't added another post as promised, and doesn't even know how to spell my name correctly , I decided to post myself. I'm hanging out at my mom and dad's, enjoying a few minutes of peace and quiet. I got here yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon and will be here until the weekend. Pain is quite minimal, and I'm actually feeling quite a lot better than I expected. I may even have to fake it a little bit to stay here until the weekend. Everything at home seems to be running smoothly. Zach and Rachel are taking the two older kids to see Horton Hears a Who tonight. Josh is staying busy with friends coming to visit and with last-minute decisions about the house. Josh's mom is coming late Thursday night and will be here until Sunday. Please pray for a smooth week at home, happy kids, happy husband, recovered wife.

surgery day post 1

Hey, this is Josh.

Shelley's surgery went very well this morning.  She was in the operating room for just about an hour, and then she was in recovery for about an hour and a half.  When she came out of recovery she felt pretty good... drugged up but good.  Once she was in her room, we talked and she seemed ok.

I'm at home right now, but I'm going back to the hospital soon.  I will post later tonight about what else I find out!

Thanks for all your prayers.  Keep them coming!


New Pics

So, I'm going to give this picture thing a shot.  I'll not be surprised if this doesn't work.  My computer and I...we don't get along so well. :-)


This is Ephram and me at his big sister's "stone." We always tell the kids we're going to the place where we remember Ava and see her stone.  This is Ephram's first experience with this. Last year he was too little to even get out of the car. This year he even got to sit in the grass!


Here is a pic of Ava's stone.  Notice the sticks in front of the stone.


 Here are all the goofy kids.  The picture quality is terrible. Not sure why.  Zoe looks like she has "buck" teeth.  Get it?Hahaha. One funny thing to note.  All the kids were gathered around the gravemarker and Ezekiel (4 years old with the tie-dye shirt) was crawling over the front of the stone.  You could see Jason get really uncomfortable with what Zeke was doing and start to get after him.  I laughed and said not to worry. If she were still here with us, he would be crawling all over her, beating her up, and we would just let it go.  I like that they crawl all over her stone.


This is the last pic.  Hopefully this blog doesn't take forever to load. This is right before we went out to eat with my parents for their 35th wedding anniversary. We had a great time and waaaay too much to eat. Isn't my husband a hottie?

Happy Birthday, Ava Nicole!

Happy Birthday Ava! Ava would be three years old today. Wow. Where does the time go?  We spent the day very busy, doing many various activities. Josh got a tatoo on his bicep with three Roman numeral letter V's. Each representing 5-5-05, Ava's birthday. I'll have to post a pic once it looks nice and not all red and sore. He actually felt a little bit of pain while the tattoo was being done which is nice (in an odd way). He has enough feeling in this area to feel pain. Yaaay!  I went out with a girlfriend this morning and all three of our boys behaved. This always makes for a more enjoyable time. We did a little shopping for our mothers for Mother's Day. When Noah and Zoe arrived home from school, we all packed up and headed over to G & G's house for cake and ice cream and a loud rendition of "Happy Birthday." We then went to the cemetary and let off lots of pink ballons with the kids yelling "hi Ava!" as they floated away. My nephew Ezekiel wanted to know if Ava was going to be coming to eat cake with the rest of us. Oh how I wish...  We then headed off to Chuck E. Cheese.  I sometimes wonder why we started the Chuck E Cheese tradition b/c that place is a madhouse! Trying to keep track of all your kids and making sure nobody steals your purse is not my idea of a good time. The kids sure did enjoy themselves. My brother-in-law Jason was saying that Chuck E., along with Satan, is going to be at the gates of hell with welcoming the unsaved. We were all getting a kick out of this sick sarcasm.  It got continually worse as the night progressed. As we were getting ready to leave and all of us getting our hand numbers checked, Josh and Jason were singing hymns and adding Chuck E to them. We were all nearly crying the the employees were looking at us like we were nuts. Oh well, we had a good time.

We'll have pictures to post soon of the events.

We miss you Ava Nicole. We hope you're loving heaven and can't wait to be with you again soon! 

Little hope for a thursday

If you look back to my last post, it was named "Hope for a Monday." I love good days.  Today though, not so good. Kinda comical actually.  :-) You know when you have days where your life seems like a cosmic joke? That's been mine over the last 2 days.

I say all this with a slight grin on my face because I am so grateful that these are the problems right now.  We are not dealing with Josh living at Mary Free Bed or Josh just beginning the road of paralysis.  The things going on right now are very minor in comparison, and for that I am thankful.

Ephram continues to not feel well. Poor little buddy. He started out with a really high fever and no other symptoms. Then the fever went down and he got little red dots all over his diaper area and legs.  Didn't think too much about it.  Then I got a rash on my back that was totally grossing me out, thinking I had ringworm (or something else equally disgusting) from a mat at the Y.  I happened to have an appointment with my nurse practitioner yesterday so I decided to suck up my pride and have her take a look. :-) No ringworm, thankfully,  shingles. Yes, shingles. Yuck! My back is now killing me, I feel like I have the flu, Ephram may have gotten the chicken pox from his mommy (shingles and chicken pox are the same virus) and I'm a bit high on Vicodin. Praise the Lord for pain meds!

All in all, not the end of the world. It will not hold up surgery on the 12th and for that I am thankful.  My N.P. said we were cutting it close but it would be okay. We are working on childcare for the time after my surgery and we got some great news. Zach and Rachel are going to come and stay for the first 4 days while I'm in the hospital and at my parents. It eases my mind a ton knowing that they will be here and I have nothing to worry about. Yay!!! The kids will have a blast and they both already know how to help Josh. This means that everyone will be well taken care of and I don't have to be concerned at all! God definitely worked that one out for us. What a blessing!

Josh and my Uncle Randy met today in regards to the charity golf outing this summer. It's so nice to see Josh excited about working on something. He's making calls about and designing shirts, talking business with printers and generally just staying busy. The outing is being held at Pilgrim's Run, and gorgeous course north of Grand Rapids. Some close friends of Holly and Jason's got us the "hook-up" and Josh is really psyched. This is the main place he has played golf over the past few years before his accident. It will be nice for him to go back. He loved to drive the golf cart like a crazy man down the paths and now he can just drive his chair like a crazy man. Some things never change.

We got everything worked out with the Department of Human Services today. I am thankful that the mountains of paperwork and running around to get all the forms signed is officially over for this year. All of our services will resume in about three week. The meeting went surprisingly smoothly.  To get everything back in order, we officially put our old house on the market. You probably wonder why we kept it in the first place. Neither Josh nor I were convinced that he would never walk again. If he could walk, we could move back home. Josh put his heart and soul into making that house our home. He put up fences, built decks (three to be exact), finished a play room in the basement, and was ready to renovate upstairs to make room for Ephram when everything came to a halt. The hardest thing for me is that selling the house means giving up a little more of Ava. We made memories in that house and lost her in that house. After she died, I never imagined we would stay, but when we did go back, the feeling of peacefulness was nearly overwhelming. We knew where our little girl was, even though her life on Earth ended in that little house on Auburn. Our little Ava with the nearly auburn hair lost her life in a little house on Auburn Avenue.