Friday, November 21, 2014


Hello! How are you this fall day? I'm loving it. 

I signed up for a writer's workshop at the beginning of the year, back when I could hardly commit to a dinner date, let alone a many months in advance workshop, a plane ride, and days away. Back then, this was a leap of faith. 

In the last year I've learned to join a world I once knew. It's different now; I'm different, but yet the same. I'm finally able to plan, to commit. 

As the retreat showed itself on the calendar, I had no idea we'd be living in Tahoe! As hard as it was to now leave home, I had a feeling this opportunity would be pivotal in my life.

And it was.

The workshop, the presenters, and the people I met are what dreams are made of. 

 I've been writing a book about our journey with Aviana for awhile now. I was recently at a severe standstill. I could never concretely figure out why. I had a few ideas, but couldn't break from the holdback. For various reasons, I was more frustrated than ever before.

Everything came clear during the workshop. Upon returning home, I've become a writing machine. I previously didn't understand the process. Now it's all flowing. Filling page after page is one of the best feelings.

The people I met at Doe Bay collectively set me free. For them, I am beyond grateful!

* * *

From beginning to end - this was a trip of a lifetime.

My friend Christie joined me. We started out in Seattle a day early. For some reason, I felt deja vu.

Yes, I'm late in posting - go figure. The trip was in October.

Halloween - the most wonderful time of the year! That's how the song goes, right?

I love looking around chocolate stores!

The next day we boarded a tiny plane. Destination, Orcas Island.

Doe Bay...


Doe a deer.

A female deer. I have no idea ; )

True to their name - these sweeties were everywhere. 

Me = mesmerized - hypnotized.


I wasn't zoomed. They let you come so close. I bet I could touch them. I wanted to!

We carved pumpkins!


A great man once said, "Life is what happens to you while your busy making other plans." 


Our plan was to go out that night and put LED candles in these cuties. We were going to take the bombest group shot ever. 

The dear deer had other ideas. We watched them pull our pumpkins off the stage and eat them instead.

This place had such great food, but most times we were cooked for. Jesse and Jen are the ones who put on the retreat. Jesse made us the best meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert too. If you ask my mom and Dave - they say there's a whole lot I avoid. 

I ate more on this trip than I eat in a week. At every meal, I went back for seconds and sometimes thirds. Jesse made my kind of food! And the way she cooked was - how can I say, of and from the heart.

Also my kind of place. The food - so good.

Mother may I? Some more, please.

Our daily walk to the retreat house.

Thank you Doe Bay.

I will forever hold you in my heart.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Bends

More than anything I look forward to Aviana's Elves. I feel a little hesitation as this time of year inches closer though. At first I'm unsure why, but soon realize. As a family we never lead with our story. The discomfort stems from the thought of going around and volunteering what happened, especially to strangers.

This season my mom has called numerous times in tears. "I can't do this! I can't. It's too hard." She's cried in front of more people than she's cared to. She has shared with more people than she's wanted. We've had many conversations about why it's worth it. We've talked about the smiles all her tears will bring. Sometimes she doesn't care, but I know she does. She's hurt because Aviana isn't here enjoying the holidays like she would have been had this accident not happened. She comes around fast though. It's useless, she's gone. What are we going to do. Nothing. So let's do some good. It's just a thought process.

While I know there are times we're both tired from our story and having to repeat it, I also know there's an overall healing taking place in every connection. My mom says she can't, but she always does. I wish you could see her. The woman is persistent. She powers through. I'm more impressed with each passing year. The people out there love her, and those who stall or give her the run around, well - they are just a challenge for her. She walks out, cries because she misses Aviana and doesn't understand why they don't understand it's for the benefit of others. She then gets mad, simmers down, regroups, later goes back and they become her best friend. It's a cycle. It makes me laugh, but then again not. I understand from both points of view; this work is important to us, but they are bombarded this time of year. 

This year as we were getting started, we ran into a few roadblocks. Tahoe Forest has different requirements. They needed to get approval for everything. This ended up taking some time. The result was this - we weren't able to provide any care packages for the Cancer Center. Unfortunately they would be too much of a potential complication. We also weren't allowed to include any snacks or beverages either. We can however provide the gift cards you so graciously provided. 

For a moment last week, I was at a standstill. Before redirecting our efforts back to Kaiser Roseville, I inquired about other departments. Pediatrics, this wouldn't work. They offered one which was a perfect fit, right along with hospice. The Extended Care Center. I toured the facility and couldn't be happier providing the packages to these lovely men and women. They are patients who have dementia, Alzheimer's, some have cancer, had a stroke or some other illness. They require a high level of care for an extended period of time. As I looked around, and talked to some of these people, I envisioned them receiving one of our care packages. Of course it matters greatly to me what's in our gift baskets, but at the very same time - not at all. As I looked at their faces and into their eyes, what matters most is that we're thinking of them.

I called my mom right after leaving. I told her of the people who were in the Extended Care Center. I asked her to remember all the people who would sit, waiting for someone to come visit back when we would pick grandma up of the day. My mom remembered well. My mom used to go up to many with a warm smile. She would touch their arm, talk to them. That's a feeling that's never left me, of seeing my mom - so loving, so gracious - to a perfect stranger. Week after week, my mom showed love when there was hardly anyone there to give that love. While in the ECC that very same feeling came back to me. 

As my mom is out sharing our story, I want her to capture what she felt all those years while visiting my grandma. I want her to feel what I felt that day in the ECC. And no matter how hard - while being within those hospital walls - it all makes sense. The worth always outweighs the pain. And the best part, it's because of and in the name of our dear, sweet Aviana.

Thank you for being with us - through the highs, the lows, and all the parts we're still trying to make sense of.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Saving Grace

We honor you today, and everyday. 

We thank you for blessing us with almost 5 years with Aviana. We thank you for giving us the opportunity, for saving our love, for sparing the one we learn from. The one who continuously teaches us what's of true importance. The one who helps us to understand - love deeply, appreciate more. 

We thank you.

Thank you for all you do - for us, for your family, for our country.

Our love always.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

One Year

My mom and Gary decided to come up for the one year anniversary on the 26th. I'm glad they did. We had a nice day together. Tahoe brings out the best in them. They are calm, relaxed, and happy.

The month before, my mom didn't think she would want to come because she'd be crying and bringing us down. She also didn't think she wanted any part of burying the remaining ashes. I wanted her to understand she could cry whenever, and all she wanted. We wouldn't mind. As for the ashes, the choice was hers - she could stay in or go for a walk while we buried them. Most important, I thought it would be nice if we were together. 

As it turned out, she was in a great mood, and halfway through the day - it was her suggestion to bury the ashes. My mom loves a good nursery, so we drove to Tahoe Tree Company and bought some aspens. My mom found some pots for her own backyard as well. We came home and Dave and Gary began making holes for the three trees we'd purchased. While they were planting, my mom and I scoped the surrounding area for the best place for Kama & Aviana. We wanted somewhere pretty, someplace close to the house, but also where we could look out and see them from inside as well as the deck. 

The three of us stood as Dave dug and Rainey ran around the yard. Just as we were about to place the wooden box of ashes, Rainey broke the mood in the best way possible. Leave it to our girl! I think it may have been orchestrated from above! As Dave was covering the box with dirt, we all started crying. Gary, as he so often does, told the most beautiful stories of Aviana.

We placed them in the middle of a winding rock walkway, under this little pine tree.

I then stood two pinecones side-by-side against the tree. One for each of our girls. 

Once finished, we turned on the game and cooked a great dinner. My mom, the Giants number 1 fan, cheered them all the way. We completed the night with one of her favorite desserts.

The entire day was spent as normal when together - we talk, laugh, eat, tease my mom, and enjoy each other's company. It was a really nice day and into the next morning until they went back home.

I know this was especially hard for my mom, but I'm happy she came and faced what she didn't want to. I could tell deep down she knew it was good for her. I think as the day progressed, and the hesitation may have been looming still - something in her pushed through and knew it would somehow be for the better.  

Later that night Dave and I were talking about where we placed the ashes. I was describing all the reasons why I thought it was the perfect place. Dave said something which made it the ultimate...

"It's like each of the four surrounding trees represent your mom, Gary, you, and me. We're always there, watching our girls."

I thought it was beautiful! I had to add Rainey in as that pine tree you see between the two on the right though ; ) 

~ One year ~ 

We miss Aviana deeply, but are forever grateful for the time we had with her. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

In Spirit

With each passing year of Aviana's Elves, your love and generosity never cease to amaze and inspire us. We truly appreciate your continued support.

While Aviana won't physically be here this year to guide her elves - she will be in spirit.

She has this way about her. She connects dots. She pushes things together. She steers me when aimed in the wrong direction. When I'm having trouble seeing, she clears the way. Sometimes I feel her, sometimes I don't. I now know to be patient. If I wait for her, she comes through; somehow she always does. She's forever my girl - here and there.

Before, I didn't know this about death. I never truly believed in this sort of thing. But now, I think differently. I guess I should say - time and again - I've been shown otherwise.

For many reasons, I look forward to Aviana's Elves this year, more than any other.

Thank you for standing beside us.