Burning Bush Moments, God Winks and My Faith Journey

I promise I haven’t lost my mind.

Before Katy died I didn’t know what to believe… now I HAVE to believe that I will someday be reunited with my daughter.  It’s the only thing that gets me through these long days.

Going through life with a piece of your heart missing HURTS.  So you search for any little thing to make the pain hurt a little less. For me I NEED to know that Katy is OK that Katy is free from any pain, that she is not severely dehydrated ( her last words ever spoken to me…) Yes, my 6 year old told me she was severely dehydrated when I asked her if she was thirsty. She went into cardiac arrest 3 minutes later. I beg for signs… I pray… I scream… I make deals to whom, I don’t know.

But, sometimes my prayers are answered

Since Katy’s death I have opened my mind and my heart to see more of the signs around me I often refer to these as God Winks. They can be hearts found in strange places, the song Happy at just the right time, or something small that reminds me of Katy and makes me stop and say thanks.

Then there are the Burning Bush Moments the moments that STOP me in my tracks bring me to my knees and are to obvious to ignore. Katy went to heaven almost 3 years ago and up until yesterday I have only had one other moment like this. ( Some of you may remember my blue jay story) Yesterday I was blessed with a Burning Bush moment and I needed it more than I realized.

I was busy working on KMMF race work. I had a lot of errands to run and although I usually feel gratified when working on Katy’s foundation I was feeling a bit melancholy. I went to pick up a large photo of Katy and the woman commented on what a beautiful little girl she was and I just started crying in the middle of the store… I went to pick up a sponsorship of someone that had the honor of meeting Katy and had a story to share and again the tears just fell from my eyes. It was while talking to this woman she reminded me that Katy is always near and I just need to ask God for a sign to let me know all is well. I left there thinking about Katy and how I yearned for a Burning Bush moment.

On my way to work last night I spoke to God and Katy I begged for a sign… I told them how tired I was, how worried about Mike I was. How I needed to know that Katy was OK and that I was doing what I am supposed to be doing. That this is for something and to keep going. I said that I was really tired so I needed it to be VERY obvious. I needed more than a God Wink.

When I got to work the second customer that came in was wearing this shirt… and I nearly hit the ground.

IMG_4764If that is not a Burning Bush I don’t know what is.

 

 

 

 

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Preparing For Battle

Our family is preparing for a great battle again.  Mike was diagnosed with Stage 2 Esophageal Cancer on April 26.

We have fought a great battle before and lost.

Mike begins treatment next week.  An intense regimen that will likely kick his ass and rock our world.  He has chemo once a week and radiation five days a week for a 5 weeks.  All of his treatment is 2 hours away… so that means traveling FOUR hours every day. Mike then has a month off and then he will have surgery to remove the tumor that has taken up residence in his body and is causing him immense pain.

The difference between this battle and Katy’s battle is we are TIRED. We were just, just navigating our way through our new normal, maybe making a little ground and bam! We were knocked off our axis once again.  I honestly don’t know how we will survive this battle.  I am tired.  Mike is tired. Patrick is worried.

I know that once again we will depend on the love of our friends and family to help get us through the next few months.  Thank you for all the love and prayers.

XO

Amiee

Resilience

You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. -Sheryl Sandberg

I recently had the opportunity to listen to Sheryl Sandberg (the chief operating officer of Facebook) on Ellen recently; up until then I had no idea who she was.  She was talking about grief and the sudden death of her beloved husband.  Her words spoke to the depths of my soul.  I was already having a difficult day navigating my own grief; I was curled up with Katy’s Rock star blanket and watching daytime television. As a busy working mom that is not something I have the opportunity to do very often.  I may have feigned a headache to allow myself that time with my grief, since a headache is far more acceptable than taking a break for a broken heart.

I was meant to hear the words Sheryl spoke.  She spoke of resilience and gratitude.   She explained that resilience is like a muscle you can build on it, for when you need it.  That analogy was just what I needed.  I often fear that I will reach my limit… I question God and the universe on how much can I take?  It feels like my resilience is tempted over and over again.  Just when you think you can’t take another hit….BAM! A Homerun out of the park and my resilience muscle is tested once again.

She spoke of gratitude and how important it is even on your darkest days, hours, minutes it is essential to find the positives in your life.  For me my gratitude is tangled in with my guilt. It’s extremely difficult for me to find and bask in the good fortunes of my life without feeling guilt for having that speck of happiness. For instance, my biggest, proudest, achievement is that I am a mama to three beautiful children.  I had the honor to be chosen to be the mama to Katy, Patrick and Riley Kate.  They are my greatest gifts. I am so thankful that after years of infertility miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy.  I was finally blessed with a beautiful baby girl.  Katy made me a mama and her life although much to short made me who I am.  I learned so much from my oldest daughter.  Her life was filled with enormous struggles.  She had to endure so much during her six years and she did it with such grace. She also lived a pretty spectacular happy life, and for that I am so thankful for. I am thankful that I have two HEALTHY children here on Earth. I am so thankful I do not have to split my time between home and hospital. I would do it all in a minute if it meant I would have my Katy Girl back with me, but since that is not possible I am grateful that part of my life is behind me. I’m grateful and a little guilty.

Katy’s Kindness Card Drive

Hello and Welcome to the Kindness Campaign Card Drive and blog hop. Thank you so much for making it all the way through the hop to this stop. Although I am a paper crafter, this is not a crafty blog. I am the mom to the beautiful girl you have all hopped along for.

The Katy M. Murphy Foundation is the nonprofit organization I founded with my husband in honor of our forever 6 year old daughter Katy. Katy had a severe congenital heart defect and heart transplant that ultimately robbed her of her life at the tender age of six.

In those 6 years Katy enjoyed each and every day with a smile on her face and kindness in her heart. We hope to share a bit of her love and light with the world through her foundation.

One of the ways we plan to do that is with Katy’s Kindness Kits!

The kits are for children and their families who are living with a congenital heart defect (CHD) and are inpatient on the cardiac care unit at Boston Children’s Hospital. The foundation will be delivering kits to the hospital to help make the children and their families stay at the hospital easier, or kinder if you will. We are very excited to be able to include a handmade card with each kit.

Katy loved to craft especially when she got to use mommy’s supplies.img_2673

All the details for the card drive can be found HERE, as well as a list of AMAZING sponsors who have offered up some phenomenal prizes to be raffled off to those who submit cards. Please read the rules carefully. The card drive will run from February 14th thru April 15th.
Here is the list of blogs:
Heather Ruwe
Jenn Shurkus

 

Vera Yates  

 

Jessica Frost-Ballas 

 

Kelly Latevola

 

Lydia Fiedler 

 

Kathy Racoosin

 

Michelle Liimatainen 

 

Amiee Murphy

 

If you are interested in learning more about Katy and her foundation please visit www.katymurphy.org

 

Abandoned

I feel so alone.  People I loved have abandoned me… Have I changed that much? I know I am a different person… to deny that would be to deny the hell that I have lived the last 29 months.

Year three of grief is so much harder than year one and two.  I’m tired and I am physically achy and the ache to see my girl is so strong.  I miss her so much.  I had so much I wanted to teach her and do with her. I feel her absence more now than two years ago or even last month.  I feel the memories slipping away… the more tired I get the more forgetful I become.

Will I forget the sound of her voice, her laugh.  The fear is enormous. It completely consumes me.

 

 

Empathy

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Today at church we celebrated Epiphany Sunday and our Pastor passed out stars printed with many different words Each member draws a star with a word from the basket and that word becomes the person’s word for the year. You cannot put the word back, and you may need a year to figure out the meaning of that word in your life.

That word will be your “gift” for the year — a word of invitation to be pondered in your heart through the rest of the year. It may be a word that you need in your life (time, hope, etc.), or it may be a word that will leave you wondering why in the world you were given that particular word to ponder. Whatever your word, it will be a gift to you if you ponder it, pray over it, think about it, etc.

My word for the year is Empathy.

em·pa·thy
noun
the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Empathy. Do I need to be more empathetic?  Do I crave empathy from others? Not to be confused for sympathy… they are very different.

To me empathy is another form of kindness and I am trying to live my life with a kind and patient heart.

I think this is a great word for me to set my intention on for the new year.

 

 

Traditions

tumblr_my3vmd0r9m1r71b95o1_1280Merry Merry Christmas!! WOW! Hard to believe we are wrapping up Christmas 2016. Today was magical… Christmas with a two year old is pretty amazing. Riley has had a blast all day and has kept us all well distracted.  It’s hard not to be happy around Riley Kate she just exudes happiness. Patrick has been a great Big Brother and has for the most part happily obliged to playing kitchen and cash register with Riley in between shooting his new Bee Bee Gun ( yes, I know… we moved to NH and we are all Live Free or Die now) and playing some fun board games, and practicing magic tricks.

This year we decided to stay home.  For the last two years we have spent it traveling to cousins and although nice to be with extended family… It’s hard when you have little ones and a broken heart to get up and out of the house.  When the opportunity arose for us to stay home… we decided to embrace it and make some new traditions for our family.

We started our day with PRESENTS!!! Riley was very happy with her Kitchen set and would have been happy with JUST that! She played with it from 730 AM until 830 pm.

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Patrick was very happy to see that Santa brought him the Xbox ONE he really wanted img_2984I really wanted a special way to include Katy in our Christmas morning traditions and I came up with the idea to have gifts to each of us wrapped in Katy’s stocking (not from Katy, but gifts that I think Katy would have picked for us and why)

This years gifts were:

Riley: Princess Ariel and her sisters for Riley’s Princess Castle.  Because Katy loved Ariel and she loves that Riley has so much fun playing with her castle.

Patrick: Beebees for his Beebe gun…because she was happy he got the gift he really really wanted.

Mommy: A snowflake pendant because Katy knows how much mommy loves the mountains and living here makes her happy.

Daddy: Shooting Goggles… because Katy is happy that daddy has made friends and makes time for himself to go shooting and hang with the “guys”.

Including Katy this way really helped set the tone for the day.  I probably wouldn’t have had the time to do it if we were rushing off to visit family.  So I am thankful we had the opportunity for this new tradition that will become a yearly tradition.

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After presents we headed to church for the pajamas and sleigh bells service! Which was so much fun and I am really glad we made time for it!

How blessed are we… Riley Kate dancing with our Pastor, Gail this morning!

Then we were home for board games and tea parties! Mike and I prepared a delicious dinner and a lovely day was had by all.

I hope that you and your family had a lovely day.  Wishing you lots of love and happiness in the coming year.

XO

Amiee

 

Rockstar Status

It’s no secret that I am very protective about the use of the term rockstar… hearing the word thrown around willy nilly… makes me sad, often angry. I associate it with my Katy and the fight she had… and her ROCKSTAR status.

I want to tell you about another ROCKSTAR who also happens to be named Katie.  Rockstar is the only word I can use describe her because she shares so many of the same rockstar qualities that our Katy had.

Katie Tuscano and I went to college together and I was immediately drawn to her beautiful smile…she was a huge Katy cheerleader from the moment she met her and learned of our story.  Always checking in..asking how my girl was doing.  Comforting me on the hard days  over lunch at Panera.

After college Katie and I fell out of daily touch but Facebook kept us updated and especially kept Katie up to date on the happenings of Katy’s wait for a heart.  Katie always a kind a generous person would always have a sweet comment word for a particularly cute picture or a specifically hard day of bad news.

When Katy died… Katie sent me one of the most thoughtful gifts we received following Katy’s death.  She had a gorgeous fleece blanket made that was covered in beautiful pictures that she had picked out especially for me so I could wrap myself in Katy.

Six months after Katy’s death, Katie was in a horrific car accident that left her paralyzed.  I remember learning the news of Katie’s accident and feeling completely hopeless and terrified.  How could this happen to her…why Katie. She was so full of life.  She is such a good person. I honestly couldn’t cope with the information and I was afraid to reach out and talk to her, let alone see her.

After talking to some mutual friends and seeing her beautiful smile via Facebook I saw that this horrific accident didn’t change her…she was still my beautiful friend.

Katie and I began talking via FB messenger…and it felt so good to chat with my dear friend.

That is until she wanted to get together.  I didn’t want to see her.  I was too sad to see her. I couldn’t handle seeing her.

So I being a horrible friend put her off… but that Katie she is persistent. She told me she would be at Katy’s grave on her anniversary on August 16 and she couldn’t wait to see me and meet Riley.

Sure enough we pull into the cemetery and I spot Katie’s wheel chair van and the tears immediately start streaming down my face.  Not for my Katy, but for my friend Katie. Out she came with beautiful flowers for me and flowers for Katy.  I got to meet Katie’s beautiful mom Tricia and we had a lovely visit with Katy.

As it was getting time for us to leave Katie handed me an envelope and explained that as part of her settlement she had asked that the gentlemen that did this to her make a charitable donation in her name and she had chosen the Katy M Murphy Foundation as one of them. I was completely shocked and thankful, but also humbled that during what had to be her darkest days Katie was thinking of others and how she could help other people so that a she could spread some light from her tragic accident.

After we hugged and said our goodbyes. I opened the envelope expecting a small donation  for our newly established foundation… instead we received a substantial donation that will allow us to provide multiple headstones and many hours of clown care fun at Boston Children’s Hospital.  In addition to providing resources to grieving families.

And I left knowing that there was another ROCKSTAR here on earth.

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Spreading Katy’s Kindness

This weekend our family experienced a truly magical weekend. Together with two of our KMMF board members, Bethany and Liz  we ventured back to the hospital that we love so much. To drop off 920 TOYS in honor of Katy’s 9th birthday this month on December 20th.

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The toys we have collected for the last two months were piled high into a rented u Haul  (my mini van couldn’t house them all this year). These toys that were so lovingly picked out by all of YOU to be brought to Boston Children’s Hospital in honor of our little girl were escorted by the Arlington and Chelmsford Police with Patrick manning the sirens.

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I have been painstakingly working on my relationship with Katy and what parenting her now looks like.  This weekend it was clear that this is how I do that.  I’m parenting Katy when I work on her foundation, I’m parenting Katy when I share her story, I’m parenting Katy every moment of everyday just as I do Patrick and Riley. I’m still her mama and she is is still very much my daughter.

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For the first time in two and a half years I feel a bit of peace, a bit of happiness, a bit of excitement.  Is this the way I envisioned I would get to be Katy’s mama? Absolutely not! But, this is all I have.  This is my only option.  So I can choose to parent her by sharing her love and light and spreading her kindness. There are no other options.  This is all I get.  This is HOW I get to be her mom.  This is how I get to care for Katy and show my love for her.

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I still don’t know the why, and I doubt  I ever will.  I still don’t expect that this will ever be enough… I want so very badly to be driving her to ballet and soccer and painting her nails, and watching her interact with her brother and sister, most of all holding her and cuddling her and watching her grow up. But, I am learning to not question if every second of everyday, and to just be in the moment.  When I allow myself to just be in the moment I feel peace, happiness, and love.

Thanks to all who donated.  I can’t tell you what it means to us to be able to give back to the hospital that did so much for our daughter. We couldn’t have done it without you.

XO

Amiee

 

 

Abandoned

fullsizerender-2I was chatting with some of my bereaved mom friends and also my good friend Tom Zuba author of Permission to Mourn: A New Way to do Grief as I recently struggled with the impending Thanksgiving Holiday. Thanksgiving has been a struggle for me since even before Katy’s death.  It was hard to be thankful when I had a very sick child who fought for every year of her life.

So as hard as it is to find things to be thankful for now, this is not a new struggle of me.

In addition to still trying to navigate my way through my new normal and just barely cracking open this chapter of my life titled grief.  Life keeps happening, and it seems the hits keep on coming. As much as I wish the world would be a little kinder, a little gentler, the truth is most of our world has moved on and wishes or thinks that we should do.  I am here to say WE will never… I WILL NEVER move on.  I have no desire to move on and leave my daughter behind.  It’s just not going to happen.  If you need that to happen to help you in your grief then I will respect that but YOU will need to move on from me.

I am not over dramatic.I don’t cry too much,  everything just hurts and I suffer from PTSD and it’s a very real, very scary thing.  A topic for another time.

I am not  lazy. Grief is tiring and hard work.  It’s emotionally and physically draining.  I am sorry that I sometimes cancel plans at the last-minute.

I am not crazyI am sometimes not in my right mind, I find it hard to concentrate.  I lose my train of thought.  I’m forgetful.  

I am not stuck in the past. I am dedicated to keeping Katy’s memory alive and keeping her a part of our family, and ensuring that Patrick and Riley have a relationship with their Big Sister. 

Thanksgiving was difficult… not going to lie.  We ended up making the best of it for our two littles here on earth… and pray we made our KatyGirl proud.

We kept some traditions like making my mom’s homemade stuffing! This was Riley’s first year helping.

We also made some new ones… like eating Thanksgiving dinner in our jammies!! Patrick made a place setting for Katy so we lit a candle for her durng dinner.

Then we spent the afternoon playing Board Games! While Riley took her post tukey nap!

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