April You Bring Such Joy and Such Sorrow

The sun was unseen and unfelt, as I, clad in a heavy wool sweater, entered an office building for a recent late afternoon appointment.  For days, a mind full of thoughts all over the map regarding sundry problems in my life alternately vacillated between agitation and calmness. The weather, nearly always given to sudden and seemingly unaccountable changes in spring in Colorado, was not helping my unsettled feelings about those troubling thoughts weighing down my mind. 

The day, one packed with activity and plans, was far from over when after the appointment I briskly walked towards the car.  Once out of deep shadows cast by the office building, I realized the sun was warming my back as I hurried down the street. As my mood lifted by the good visit and the sun at my back, my quick pace slowed down enough for me to glory in the beautiful spring scenes around me.

As I entered the building just an hour before, had I even noticed that the once brown bare bush branches near the doorway were now clad in green leaves? Why hadn’t I earlier drunk in the beauty of trees covered in fluffy white blossoms that lined the wide street on which I stood?

Since my husband and I had long awaited plans for the evening, I wanted to keep believing that the sensory input I was experiencing was true and trustworthy.  Sight, smell, touch: they all confirmed it was a warm, sunny spring day. I could feel the warmth of the sun.  I could see that Mother Nature had done her springtime magic by causing bulbs to emerge from their long winter’s nap in the earth. Hoping be eradicate any belief in the weather forecast of snow later in the day, I looked to the west.  Blue skies minus any clouds provided a beautiful backdrop for the snow covered mountains in the distance.  “No storm clouds are coming in over the mountains,” I told myself. Even the car temperature gauge reading of 70 degree supported my internal argument that surely snow would not ruin my day, and my mood.

Then, I turned around.  I looked south and east.  The forecast that had been in the weather for days was confirmed.  Sensory input coming from the direction I now faced, could not be denied.  A storm, not coming from the mountains in the west, but from the south and east, was brewing.  Dark, nearly black, low clouds forming and covering the entire sky to the south forced me not to be misled by only looking at part of the picture. 

Logic, rational thinking, and experience caused me to turn and to look towards the part of the sky where the weatherman had predicted the storms would form. The evidence was clear.  A storm was on its way. 

The skies above and around me provided a perfect metaphor for the juxtapositions we encounter in life:  Darkness meets sunshine.  Two extremes collide.  Springtime, a time of perfect juxtaposition between winter and summer.  Upon which image is one to focus?  Should one focus only on the springtime flowers and sunshine, or should one focus on stormy skies stirred into a fury by chinook winds which bring blizzards and destruction?


On the day I just described, I wanted to believe that the sun would keep shining.  I could substantiate that belief if I only looked at part of the evidence. 
Julie's Tree
April 8, 2011

Placing images of sunshine, spring flowers, white blossom covered trees, and dark, threatening, moisture laden dark clouds driven by fierce cold winds side by side in my mind, a new metaphor began to emerge.  It was a metaphor for strongholds in the mind.
April 1, 2017
Strongholds in the mind remind me of spring. 
They deceive. 
They don’t tell the entire truth. 
They ignore evidence,
 believe false evidence,
or they only consider a portion of the evidence. 

Strongholds of the mind are clung to as if they could save, rescue, restore, give peace.
They run hot and cold. 
They are sunny one moment, and oh so stormy the next.

Strongholds keep us from living the life we were meant to live.

Strongholds are like March.
March, the madness of March, could nearly drive one mad.
The weather vacillates.

Soft mountain breezes whispering hope for sunny skies stir the daffodils one day.
 Those same bright yellow flowers that brought such hope and joy, such optimism on a perfect spring day,
 are buried in snow the next.

April, no wonder you have the reputation of being the cruelest month. 

Spring, you are so capricious.

In those dark dreary days of being shut-up indoors during winter, we believe that when Spring brings forth her flowers, we will only have sunshine and happiness. Our beliefs on how spring should be suddenly become incongruent with our experience when a sunny spring day suddenly turns stormy and snowy. Uplifted, buoyant emotions change like the weather.

Strongholds are like that.

Strongholds take root in the mind based on some belief about how we think life should be.
Or maybe, strongholds are based on what we think we should be, or how others should be. Too often we base our beliefs, our emotions, on what we can see, think, or experience.

Can we always take that which we
as being true?

On that recent spring day when I wanted to believe the sun would not give way to a storm, I based the information I wanted to believe about the day by only looking in one direction.  I based my belief on only one part of what I could see.  I wanted to ignore the dark clouds forming to the south and east of me.  I wanted to focus only on the sunny sides to the west. 

I could have faced only to the south and east and stood in the shadow of a building and denied that the sun was shining, the skies were blue, and that winter’s dreariness was giving way to spring.  I could have. 

I could have insisted that my truth was informed by what I could see and feel while only looking in one direction.  I could have.

I could have rejected the evidence that a strong wind was stirring those dark foreboding clouds in the southeast and moving them westward towards the sunny skies.  I could have told myself, “I don’t think it will storm.”  I could have thought these thoughts, and I could have believed them.  Thankfully, earlier in the day, I’d heard the truth of these words:

Don’t believe everything you think.

Thinking that is not consistent with the truth will never bring peace.  Just because one thinks something is true doesn’t mean that there is any truth in what that someone is thinking
Spring reminds me of strongholds in the mind.
Strongholds of the mind remind me that there just as spring is capricious, so also are my thoughts and my emotions.

Spring nearly always breaks a part of me.


The breaking comes as I associate both the birth and death of my daughter with spring.  She was born forty-one years ago today on a glorious spring day in April.  I noted in my journal on the day she was born that the daffodils were blooming. 

A first peek at Julie by her sister's Amy and Keicha

Keicha, Julie, Amy
April 2010
The last photo of my three girls together
She took her life seven years ago just as spring was nearly over in 2010.

Strongholds in her mind brought on by depression, suicide ideation, and other addictions became too powerful for her to overcome on that day when her life ended.  So many other days and times she had not believed the destructive thoughts about herself and the future, but on that day, the day of her death, her battle with her mind, her body, her emotions, her beliefs, her demons, was lost when she took her life.


On this the day of her birth, I wish to remember all that was Julie.  The spirited joy that she brought to us all is what I remember most. Birthdays are to be celebrated.  As a mother, it breaks me each year as I seek to integrate the joy and sadness that Julie’s birthday evokes in my heart.  I also purpose in my heart and mind that Julie’s life will never be remembered only for the strongholds which ultimately destroyed her. 

Julie surrounded by daffodils in Ireland

Julie’s legacy to me is a lesson I hope to pass on to others.  
You just cannot always trust what you are feeling.

 I’ve learned a lot about strongholds of the mind since that fateful day when my daughter took her life. I’ve also learned how to fight those assailing thoughts which seek to destroy. 

After Julie died, a sticky note found on her desk became the message I believe she left for us all.

Live well was its simple message.*

That is the message of her life I hope to remember most. 

I wrote in my journal right after her death, that I hoped to integrate her life and death as I progressed through life.  I did not want to live as a person shattered in broken pieces that never were gathered up to make a new a new story for my life which had held so much joy and sunshine but now contained such grief and darkness.  I wished to live well and not give in to any strongholds which could destroy. 

Today, the girls, my beautiful daughters have each called and with brave voices asked, “How are you, mom?”  I heard their tears and my throat catches as I say, “I’m ok.”  I know they hear the tears in my voice.  We cry.  We remember.  Amy, says to me, “You have handled this all with grace, Mom.”


If it shows to my daughter, it is because I’ve been given so much grace. 
Grace is always a gift.
It is not one I could have conjured up for myself.
It is simply God's gift to me: 
Grace for the journey.

Grace has allowed me to take the darkness and the sorrow, 
the joy and laughter, 
the snow, 
the rain, 
the wind, 
the flowering trees, 
the jaunty daffodils 
and seek the grace to live out the message Julie left for us all.

Live well.

*The photo at the bottom of this post, and the photo of Julie's message to us all were taken by my daughter and her sister, Keicha.  You can read a beautiful tribute to her sister here: Julie, Do You Love Me?

September ~ Suicide Prevention Awareness Month


Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

As September draws to a close, I think of how much I have learned this month because of the various articles that have been shared on Facebook by the National Association for Mental Health (NAMI).  I am so grateful for this organization for the great job they are doing to educate all of us about the many facets of mental health.  I appreciate the help they give to those whom are ill and to those whom have family members, friends, or loved ones with mental illness.

My own personal passion concerns suicide prevention awareness.  Now that the month of September is over, the month designated as Suicide Prevention Awareness month, I don't want any of us to forget that suicide prevention awareness needs to be in place all twelve months of the year, every day of the week, and every hour of the day.  I have taken the liberty to copy the following paragraph from NAMI website page that specifically addresses the risk of suicide:  

According to the CDC, each year more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide, leaving behind thousands of friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of their loss. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the U.S. and the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-24; these rates are increasing. 

Prior to losing my daughter Julie to suicide, I would never have thought about arming myself with information regarding suicide prevention.
I should have.
Julie had threatened and attempted suicide more than once over the years before she completed suicide in 2010.

I thought I knew what I needed to know about talking to her when I recognized that she was in crisis.
I thought I recognized signs.
I thought I had a plan.
Now, I wonder how I could have been so sadly misinformed.

I find it stunning now that even after her previous attempts, I never sat down with her and went over the risk factors and discussed how some of the behavior I would see in her could indicate that she was highly at risk for attempting suicide again.

I never discussed a plan that could help her, me, or the rest of her family and friends during a time when she might be in crisis.
We didn't have a plan in place.
I don't think we would have had the tools to develop such a plan.

I assumed Julie would always call me, or she would call her sister Amy if she were in crisis.
I assumed we would get her help right away.

I  had never even heard the term "completed suicide" before Julie took her life.
That term alone would have terrified me because that would have meant that any attempt had the potential to be

That would have meant that my worst fear could have actually happened.

I thought I could deal with her attempts and threats.
I thought I would always have a way to reach her.
I never thought she wouldn't give me the opportunity to reach her.
I never believed that my worst fear would actually happen.

A lifetime ago,
a decade plus one year ago,
during September of 2005,
my daughters Amy and Julie ran a marathon.
Julie was the driving force when it came to running.
She plotted out the training schedule.
She had more experience in running a race.
She knew how to pace herself.
She and Amy called this experience, the plan for, the preparation for, and the running of the race,
"Oxygen Depravation and Other Fun Times with My Sister."
That was actually the title of the book they wanted write about the fun times they had as sisters.
As they ran, they wrote chapters in their minds and shared how the chapter would read.
Oh how I wish they would have written down those stories.
Amy and Julie were born just twenty-three months apart.
They were as close as any two sister could ever be from their earliest days.

The story between these two sisters is not mine to tell.
It now belongs to Amy.

I just wish that the story of the sisterhood would never have to include a chapter on suicide.


To say our hearts and lives were shattered when Julie took her life would never fully convey how suicide robbed our family not only of time with our Jules, our lynchpin, our dearly treasured family member, but saying these words could also never convey how suicide robbed us of
our innocence,
our dreams for a future that had Julie in it,
her laughter,
her wit,
her wisdom.
Suicide robbed us from
a legacy that did not include a family history of suicide.


On that day in 2010 when Julie took her life, a dark black line was drawn down the middle of the timeline of my life.


A lifetime ago,
just six short years ago,
 dear friends and family came together to walk in our very first Suicide Prevention Awareness Walk.

Team 808 for Jules was formed in 2010.
Julie's friend Leanna, a dear friend from high school, was the one who organized Team 808 and got us all involved in taking part in this important walk that raises money to go towards suicide prevention.

To this day, I am blessed to know that each year at least one member from this original team will participate in a Suicide Prevention Run/Walk.
This year, my daughter Keicha raised nearly $1000 for the walk held in Salt Lake City.
She does this walk each year in memory of her sister.


Julie had suffered from mental illness since her teens.  She had been diagnosed and treated for both Bi-Polar Disorder and Depression.  Julie hated her diagnosis.  I don't know if she ever fully accepted it.  I think that she thought the word stigma automatically should have been written after the official term for the diagnosis.

She didn't want to be different from others.  She didn't what this diagnosis attached to her.  I'm not sure she ever fully accepted her illness.  I don't know if she ever fully accepted that her illness was just that: an illness.

I would talk to her about diabetes.  I would say, "Do you think that a person has diabetes because of something they did or didn't do?  Do you think it is an illness that can be treated?  Do you think it is something to ignore?  Do you think it is something to be ashamed of?"  We would talk about this analogy of mental illness and an illness like diabetes often.  She always agreed that I was right about diabetes, but I'm still not sure she fully bought into her own illness as not being something she did wrong.  I'm not sure she ever really believed that her illness could be successfully treated and managed.  I think the STIGMA of suffering from her illness haunted her, caused her not to seek treatment when she could have, and caused her to ignore warning signs that she should take care of herself.  Even as I write these words, I hear her saying would a, could a, should a.  She often said that when things went wrong in life.  

She would not go into treatment for her illnesses associated with her mental illness because of the STIGMA she thought would prevent her from earning a living, getting married, having children.

She had never seen the hashtag #stigmafree because she died before we all started using hashtags.  She died before there was so much information freely available on the internet about preventing suicide, or about supporting those with mental illness.

That does not mean that Julie was not informed.  She was very informed about her illness.  She asked me to read Kay Redfield Jamison's book An Unquiet Mind when she was still in college.  She said it would help me understand what she was experiencing.  It did give me understanding to read this book.  I just wish I would have read it each year, or kept it by my bedside as a reference, or talked about it more with her.  We talked about it, but did I really get what she was going through?  Did I really comprehend all that she suffered?


What do you know about what you could do to prevent suicide?  
Have you informed yourself? 
I am including a link to a very important public service announcement here:
Read it.
 Print it out for ready reference.

As I read the list provided in this article, it caused me to think about how I might have been more helpful when Julie talked to me about her depression, her hopelessness, her anxiety, her suicidal thoughts.  We had many talks about these topics, and generally, she either called me or her sister Amy when she was most at risk.  On the night she took her life, she did not call me, nor did she call her sister.  It is not my wish to second guess how any of us could have been proactive in preventing her death when it occurred because quite honestly, we really did not see it coming, and none of us really know what anyone could have done had they been aware of what was going on with her on that fateful evening.

Nevertheless, I read the list, and I think of some proactive things that we might have been able to do.

I have taken the list I reference above and added a few of my thoughts about the list.  

  • Removing the means of taking one's life is the most reasonable approach to take when a loved one is aware of another's struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts or tendencies.  Remove the access to guns.  Please do that.  A person struggling with these thoughts should not have access to guns.  Period.  It is not possible to removed all those items that one could use to end a life, but at least be aware of what means that person might use.  Ask them if they have a plan.  Act accordingly.  
  • Asking if you can help call a therapist rather than asking if you can call a therapist is a good plan.  In my opinion, this helps the loved one think of a different plan or approach they can take rather than you taking the approach for them.  You might not be given this chance, but if you are, I like this approach.
  • Ask those hard questions.  I have had to do this.  It is not easy to do, but the questions must be asked.  "Are you thinking of hurting yourself or taking your life?"  "How will you take your life?  Do you have a plan?  What is it?"  Believe me.  You would rather hear the answers to these questions so you can act accordingly, than to not ask the questions and find that your loved one has taken his or her life.
  • One person speaking at a time with a loved one in distress is best.  It is calming.  There are not contradictory statements being made.  The loved one can focus better.
  • Ask what you can do to help.
  • Stay calm.  The world may be threatening to crumble, you may want to vomit or pass out, your blood pressure may soar, and your heart is probably racing, but try to stay calm or at least appear calm.  Don't argue.  Don't threaten.  Don't pace.  
  • Provide safety and support.
  • Reach out for others to help.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-TALK (8255)
I carry a pocket size National Suicide Prevention Lifeline card in my purse.  It lists the suicide prevention lifeline phone number on it.  It also lists the warning signs of suicide.  I have used these guidelines to speak to those I find are depressed or suicidal.  I turn the listed warning signs into questions, or I have addressed how I have observed these warning signs in behavior.

A larger lifeline card with similar information is next to my desk for ready reference.

I also have an app on my phone called:  Safety Net.  It is a great app.  It has some of the following features:
  1. Step 1 - Warning Signs
  2. Step 2 - Internal Coping Strategies
  3. Step 3 - Social Supports and Social Settings 
  4. Step 4 - Family and Friends for Crisis Help 
  5. Step 5 - Professionals and Agencies
  6. Step 6 - Making the Environment Safe
There is a place on the app to list emergency numbers that one at risk or a loved one for one at risk can find in just an instant.  I also list emergency numbers for agencies where my loved ones live because one never knows when a life threatening situation may present itself.  Our family is at risk for suicide simply because we have had a suicide take place in our family.  I take this risk seriously.

You might wish to ask your loved one if you can have the names and number of those they are seeing for treatment of mental illness.  If they wish for you to have these numbers, you can list them on this app.

Be aware that due to privacy laws, you will not get answers about the treatment you loved one is getting in many instances.  That doesn't mean that you can't give information out that might be helpful to the caregiver.  


My purpose for writing this has to been to increase awareness about preventing suicide.  There is hope.  There is help.  Together, by informing ourselves, and by being observant and proactive, I believe we can can make a difference in lives of those suffering from mental illness or struggling with suicide ideation.

I will always believe Julie did not wish to lose her battle with an illness that had caused her so much pain in her life and had robbed her of so much. She fought valiantly for many years.  She was brave and courageous, but in the end, her illness won.  Now, those of us left must do what we can do to support others with mental illness.  We do this to honor Julie.  

Julie passes her sister Amy at the finish line.

Runners need a plan before they enter a marathon.  They train and rehearse for every unforeseen event that might interfere with their goal.  They create a team for support.  They need cheerleaders along the way.  They need encouragers when the race seems much longer than they had planned and so much more difficult than they expected.

Be that helper.  Be that encourager.  Be that one that cheers another on.  

You can join Team 808 for Jules by informing yourself about what you can do prevent suicide.  Do what you can do to stop the stigma attached to mental illness.  Do what you can do to raise awareness about the treatment of mental illness.  Do it in memory of my beautiful daughter, Julie Ann Christiansen.


A Remembrance - Julie

Julie, my bi-centennial baby, would turn 40 this year.
4 - 8 - 16
multiples of four mark Julie's 40th birthday.

I try to imagine what Julie would be like at 40.
I asked Amy what she thought she would be like.
"She'd be the same," she said.

I had a dream not long ago about Julie.
In my dream, someone asked how old Julie was.
I said,
"She has no age.
She is ageless.
She now belongs to the ages."

Julie is no longer bound by time.
She is timeless.

We, in this earthly realm are still bound by time.
We, in her family, mark time by such remarks as:
"Julie would be 40 if she were alive."
"Julie has been gone nearly six years."
"I saw 8:08 on the clock today and thought of Julie."

Time has moved on since our dear Julie left our midst, but she is never far from our minds.
She remains so very dear to our hearts.
She lives on in our memory.

On her birthday, we celebrate the life that blessed our lives when Julie was born.

When Julie turned 33, I wrote a blog post about her birth and early years on our private family blog.
On Facebook that year, I wrote, "Julie celebrates her birthday tomorrow."
She responded with this:
did i get a 17 paragraph blog post smile emoticon

Seventeen paragraphs would not begin to describe Julie.

In my memorial service tribute, I tried to describe Julie this way:

Julie, my free-spirit with a soul that was as rich, full-bodied and interesting as her hair, was born on a spring morning on April 8, 1976. My springtime pixie, born while the daffodils were in full bloom entered this life like a fire cracker during the bicentennial year of our nation’s birth. She seemed to be all sunshine and laughter as a young child.

Julie had such a sense of fun throughout her entire life.

That impish quality that was so evident in her early life was a quality she always had.

She was clever.
She had such wit.
And her cleverness allowed her to be quite creative in most things she did in life.

She was energetic.
She loved to dance, to hike, to ski, to run.
She ran marathons and was on the track team in high school.

She was playful, spontaneous, active, dynamic, enthusiastic, graceful, outgoing, and adventuresome.

Julie was nurturing.
She love babies and children.
Babies and children loved her.
She loved being an auntie.

Reading with Hannah

Julie was smart, imaginative, logical.
She was a very hard worker and was a valued employee.
She earned a B.A. in English.
She loved to read.
Her favorite author was most likely Virginia Woolf.

She kept journals.
She liked to write and was an excellent writer.

Julie was interesting, friendly, inventive, logical, confident, and big hearted.

She loved being with family.

Julie loved her dog Phoenix.

Julie had such style.
She had good taste in decorating, and in dressing.
Clothes always looked good on her slim, athletic body.
Julie modeling my old coat from the 70's
Julie had great friends 

Julie & Jason
Julie was courageous.
When she was eighteen she had her first bout with severe depression.
She fought a battle with depression her entire adult life.
Her mood disorder caused her to be
moody, distant, troubled, detached, insecure.
Many never knew how much she suffered from depression.
At times she could be so annoying.
Her moods were overwhelming to her and others.

Still, she showed up.
She was independent, and wise, and trustworthy.

Julie had such physical strength and balance.
She always seemed to be the one we leaned into for balance in family dynamics,
or when we decided to kick up our heels in fun.

I always think of her as the lynchpin.

On the day that would have been Julie's 40th birthday,
I want to remember her as she has always been to me:
my beautiful springtime pixie.

My heart broke when she left us.
It will always be broken.
Between the broken pieces in my heart, my love for her, and her love for me, allows me to   remember clearly and  see her beautiful blue eyes and her smile.

I think of her sense of fun and of whimsy.
I remember her wise beyond her years intelligence.

I remember her arm around my shoulder.
I remember the special bond that we had.

I am blessed because 
Julie Ann Christiansen
was a special gift God sent to me on
on a beautiful spring day in April when the daffodils were blooming
forty years ago today. 

My life was so enriched because she graced my life.
She remains my treasured daughter.

Reflections on Christmas Present

Many years ago, I purposed to let go of all the expectations that Christmas be celebrated like the ones I remembered so fondly from my childhood.  Christmas, a time of joy and peace, should not be lived by remembering the past to the point where one does not enjoy the the present.  Distance, divorce, and death, the three "D's" of Christmas, can threaten to destroy the joy and peace that we hope for during the Christmas season.  

Over the years, I've learned that it is best to let go of those expectations surrounding holidays that can lead to disappointment and a sense of sadness that robs us of the joy of the season.  During this time of year, despite my best intentions, I still find myself feeling stressed and unhappy because of the pressures I feel from the expectations of others.  I am working on establishing boundaries on time commitments and on spending during the season of parties, get togethers, and gift exchanges.  I've learned Christmas can be the time when we most get to practice using the skills of being present in the present and learning to enjoy the moment minus trying to meet the expectations we place on ourselves and others.

Early in the season, I purposed to focus on the Reason for the Season rather than being distracted by all the demands that seem to so easily overwhelm during this busy time of the year.

I purposed to enjoy the decorating my house with the those objects that hold meaning and significance to me and tie me to memories from the past.  When I prepare for Christmas,  I put up a small live tree which I decorate with Julie's Christmas ornaments.  Julie was single, and didn't have a lot of ornaments, but the ones she had were stored in a round Christmas theme hat box that I had given her filled with Christmas gifts years before.  Julie had carefully wrapped each ornament in tissue paper and placed them in the storage box on that last Christmas of her life.

 The first Christmas after her death, upon opening this storage receptacle holding Julie's ornaments, I was overcome with sadness and weeping by the unexpected scent of Julie that wafted from the box.  Julie used a strongly scented hair pomade which she would work through her curls as she styled them.  I pictured her doing her hair, and letting it dry, as she had packed away Christmas in 2009.  Honestly, every year, when I open the box, the scent hits me and makes me cry.  Each year, I am grateful I can still catch a bit of the beautiful scent that was Julie.

I don't know where Julie got this skier ornament.  It reminds me of an athletic Julie during her healthy days when she had the money, the time, and energy all at the same time so she could go skiing.  I remember her living in ski country near Vail, Colorado and wonder if she got the ornament while she lived there.  

I gave Julie this angel holding a puppy for Christmas when her dog Phoenix was a pup.  Now, Phoenix is also gone.  

Julie was a highly organized person.  Her Christmas ornaments and other trappings of Christmas were all stored in a large green plastic container.  This year, I opened up the many unopend packages of Christmas lights that she had purchased with the intent of decorating the outside of wherever she was living at the time.  For the first time ever, I decided these lights should be used.  Jim and I spent an early December day stringing the lights on the back deck of our house.  The light from them brought me great joy this year.


Throughout the year, my life is richly blessed by several groups of women from my church.  I found myself saying, "Let's have a Christmas lunch at my house this year," during our last Bible study time before the holidays.  Immediately, afterwards, I felt just a touch of panic when I realized that meant I would have to have my house cleaned and decorated before the date set for the lunch!  

Somehow, I pulled it off.  The house was cleaned.  (Ok, I had the cleaning ladies clean the house.)  The tree was decorated.  The various other Christmas displays were set up.  I even was able to get the food arranged, the coffee and tea made, and the dishes and eating utensils all placed on a counter so my guests could serve themselves in a buffet style.  It all seemed to be a success.  I had fifteen women in attendance.  A more sedate, reflective group of eight sat in the formal dining room, while the rowdy, laughing ladies and I, nine of us, gathered around my kitchen table.  Somehow, I forgot to get a photo of the occasion.  Everyone stayed a long time.  We gathered in the living room and chatted as a group before everyone departed.  What a wonderful group of ladies I have been able to get to know this year.  I look forward to studying the Psalms with them next year.

It seemed a waste not to have another party once I had the extra leaves in the dining room table, so I had another party on the Saturday before Christmas.  This time, my dear prayer group ladies, my Monica Moms, came to my home for a brunch.  How I love these women.  We gather twice a month to pray.  We sat at my dining room table and rejoiced over the answers to prayers we have seen this year. We cried together over those requests that are still on our hearts, the prayers not yet answered.  We encouraged each other.   We laughed.  We celebrated each other.

On Christmas Eve, I was able to go to church with one of my dear high school friends.  It was so wonderful to spend this time with her and then to go over to her home to chat with her and her husband before I had to leave to pick Jim up from work.  

The rest of Christmas Eve was spent at Jim's daughter's house with all of his daughters and their families.  It was a great gathering.  What a great pile of cousins this is!

My daughter Amy was to join us on Christmas Day, but she came down with a cold that she didn't want to give us for Christmas, so she stayed home.  We missed seeing her and spending time with her.  The presents for her and her family will be delivered next week.

Jim and I spent a lazy, quiet Christmas morning.  It was good.  As I sat on the couch visiting with my hubby, I snapped a photo of the place where we do much of our living.  I am so grateful for each Christmas that I spend with the man I love in this home that brings us such comfort.  Home is the heart of Christmas in so many ways.  While none of our children ever lived in this home, and while so many Christmas memories were made in the home we left three years ago, this is now our home, and we are so happy living here.  

We ate a leisurely breakfast after opening our gifts.  Then we took the dog for a walk.   The day was cool, and snow kept lightly falling on us as we walked among the other creatures of the valley where we live. I counted 15 mule deer dotting the grounds around the corner from our house.

I was reminded of that Christmas song,
Grandpa got run over by a reindeer 
as Jim walked by our other neighbors who were also out enjoying Christmas afternoon.

Christmas Day was finished off with by Grandpa and Grandma joining daughter Trinette's family at the movie theater to watch "Star War."    I must confess, that I am not very culturally relevant  on many things.  I had never seen a Star Wars movie!  It was great.  I enjoyed it.  After the movie, the kids came to our house for cold cuts, candy, cookies, holiday bread, and ice cream.  

After dinner and a movie, sweet T was fell asleep in her mother's arms.  Christmas is exhausting!

 Today, I got up to a messy house with the wrappings and trappings of Christmas strewn about.  From the looks of things, I'd say we had a very Merry Christmas.   

Christmas Day 2015
Sally & Boston

The Gift of Friendship

Birthdays and gifts go hand in hand.  I've been questioning how one should celebrate the birthday of one no longer with us as my daughter Julie's birthday has approached.  Julie had a gift when it came to making friends.  After her death, one of the most wonderful gifts that she left me was the gift of friendship with her many friends.  Tomorrow, April 8,  Julie would have been 39 years old.  Today, I will celebrate the gift of friendship that was found in one very close to her:  Scott.

When Jim and I were in Florida in February, I received a text from  Julie's high school boyfriend Scott Roberts asking if we would be able to connect while we were in the area since he lived an hour or so away.  I was thrilled when he contacted me, and we made a visit with Scott one of our highest priorities.

The Story of Two April Babies Born in 1976:

Scott and Julie

My daughter Julie met Scott not long after she moved to Pueblo Colorado, when I married Julie's step-father Jim.  I always admired the way Julie jumped right into the challenge of moving to a new town when she was in high school.  I know this was no easy task.  It wasn't long before she made a bevy of wonderful friends.  Scott was one of them.  After Julie's death Scott sent me note he had written to Julie on nineteenth anniversary of the first day they met.  He wrote: you were so cute, so happy, so full of life.  I loved you instantly...  This will be the first year I don't get to call you and tell you how long we've known each other.  We always made jokes on how we could have tolerated each other so long... There was always something special about you, I couldn't tell you the day I met anyone else...that's how much you've always stood out.  

The relationship between these two lasted as long as Julie lived.  They had some pretty rocky teenage times when much to my dismay they would have their spats.  I would hear the telephone ring all hours of the night when Scott would call Julie.  (Probably because she called him first.)  More than once, I heard the little tiny pebbles hit Julie's bedroom window.  I knew Scott was trying to get her attention either late at night or early in the morning when he was delivering his newspapers.  I would go to the bedroom next to Julie's, open the window and holler down to the young man standing below her second story window, "Go home Scott.  Julie is sleeping.  Leave her alone."  We laugh about it now.  

Scott and Julie attend their junior prom together.  They continued to date off and on during their freshman year in college. Scott was born three days before Julie on April 5, so every year, even the year Julie died in 2010, they always made sure they talked to each other on their birthdays.

When Julie and Scott were in their first year of college, they took a road trip to Utah with my son Jon to visit Julie and Jon's father, sister, and brother in Utah.  I think it must have been over Spring Break.
I recently ran across photos taken just before that trip.  Scott reminded me that he lost his job because he went on that trip with Julie.  I guess he'd just been hired on a new job at the newspaper, but decided to take a vacation anyway.  When he got back, he didn't have a job.

They all look so young and cute in these photos.  I think Julie must have the face to her tape recorder in her hand in the photo on the right.  I think she has a police detector radar device in her hand in the center photo.  I guess they must have had dinner at our home just before they departed for the trip.  I'm thankful for these fun memories.  I wonder if they were celebrating their 19th birthdays with this trip.  The trip was taken twenty years ago in 1995.  It seems impossible that many years have passes since these kids were teenagers.

I used to tease Scott whenever I saw him over the years by asking, "When are you finally going to marry my daughter?"  All those years ago, when these two teenagers were making each other and their parents crazy, I recognized the positive character traits of loyalty, faithfulness to friends and family, hard work, and belief in his religion in Scott.  I saw a young man I would have felt proud to have as a family member.  Scott has remained a dear "adopted" part of our family.

Upon hearing of Julie's death in May of 2010, Scott flew to Colorado from Florida to be with us and all of her dear friends for her funeral.  His presence meant so much to us.  Later that same year, he came to visit us and spent some time with Jim and me on our back deck.  I always remember him asking me as we walked through the house towards the deck, "Is the trampoline still there?"  Of course it was.  He said he hoped to see the trampoline where he and Julie had had so much fun when they were younger.  He sent a beautiful letter to be read at her memorial service that was held a year after her death when we buried her cremated remains at the cemetery.

The way Scott has honored Julie's memory has always touched me more than he will ever know.  This past summer Scott made a very quick trip to Colorado from Florida for his 20th class reunion.  It also would have also been Julie's 20th class reunion.  He was in Colorado for fewer than 24 hours, yet he made sure he found out where Julie was buried so he could visit her grave and leave some flowers.  After he visited her burial site, before he headed forty miles south for the reunion, he sent me a message saying her stone was beautiful.  His thoughtfulness brought tears to my eyes.  I know Julie would have been greatly touched by his gesture of remembrance.  How many of us have a friend like Scott?  I've said it many times that Julie had a gift for making great friends.  Scott was one them.

Our Visit

We had arranged to meet Scott and his wife and daughter early in the afternoon on Valentine's Day for a late lunch on Daytona Beach.  This was not a day to spend a lot of time on the beach because the weather was quite cool.  Blistery winds whipped the waves of the ocean as Scott, Jim, I caught up on our lives.  Scott had brought his beautiful wife and daughter with him.  His two year old daughter, full of personality and spunk wanted to be outside running on the beach while we stayed inside the great spot Scott had picked for lunch, Racing's North Turn Beach Bar and Grille.


While Scott was attending the University of Colorado working on his engineering degree, he took up skydiving.  He has been involved in competitive canopy piloting since 2002.  His passion for skydiving has led him to create his company called Fluid Wings.  (Click to read about his company.)  He makes parachutes for a living.  He also does contract work in engineering.

Scott and I recounted what a crazy small world this is as we talked about my blogging friend and fellow Vashonista, Djan Stewart of DJan-ity and Eye on the Edge.  Scott had seen Djan's name on one of my blog posts.  Scott knew that there is only one Djan.  And of course he is right.

Djan was the person that certified Scott as a sky jumper while he was still a student at CU in Boulder, Colorado.  Isn't that just crazy?  He spoke of how much he learned about skydiving from Djan.  Then, he told me about Djan's husband, "Smart Guy."  He had great admiration for both of these people whom influence him so much in his younger years.  He said, "I learned to skydive from Djan, but I'm still alive because of "Smart Guy."  I asked why, and he told me that Djan's husband taught him about being wise and not so crazy as a youth.  He taught him not to take stupid risks.  He made him think.

Scott then told me that Djan had met Julie, "She just doesn't remember it." He said Julie was dating a friend of Scott's when Scott was skydiving and they went skydiving together and Djan was there when they all took their jumps.  That really warmed my heart to see the connection that I made with Djan after Julie died.  Djan, Scott's mentor, helped me in so many ways to cope with Julie's death through blogging.  Yes, it is a very small world.

Our time together was too short, but I left the lunch we had together feeling so blessed.  I loved talking to Scott again and was so pleased to observe what a wonderful human being he remains.  I was especially blessed to get to know his wife.  She was delightful and so very interesting.  I also was thrilled to finally meet Scott's daughter.  Words can't describe this child's bright, lively, and intelligent personality.  I think she will keep Scott on her toes when she becomes a teenager.
Scott and Family
Daytona Beach

My life has truly been blessed by knowing and spending time with Julie's friends.  She truly had a gift for making friends.  She made good life long friends.  Her friends are among my great gifts now.

This year, as I celebrate the birth of Julie, I am also celebrating that other April baby born just days before Julie was born: Scott Roberts. Memories of Julie's teen years and beyond will always be intertwined with memories of Scott.  Scott, you will never know how much it has meant to me that you made a great sacrifice to be with us when Julie died.  You will never know how much it meant to me that you made sure you left flowers for Julie on her gravesite when you came back for your class reunion. You two were friends with a friendship that spanned the years.  Now, it is my great joy to see you happily married, the father of a beautiful daughter, and involved in a career that represents your passion.  Julie would be so happy for you.  I am so very proud to count you among the gifts that Julie's life bestowed upon me.

Scott & Sally
Daytona Beach


After Christmas, the two red amaryllis blossoms that had sprung forth from a bulb planted in just stones and water, died back.
Those brilliant red blossoms that brought brilliant color to the drab days of winter eventually faded and began to die.
If I had known nothing about bulbs,
or if I had known nothing about amaryllis,
I would have assumed the spent looking appearance of what was left of blossoms meant the the plant’s day had come to an end,   
I then would have tossed the plant out.

I cut the flower stalk back to about three inches above the bulb.
I then took it downstairs to a cool dark closet that seldom gets opened.
I thought I’d check on it again in the fall.

Mid-March, I was looking for something in that dark, unused closet.
Not wanting to knock over the glass container containing the rocks and the bulb, I looked to see exactly where it was hiding in the closet.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a new green stalk shooting out of the bulb.
On the end of stalk was a bud.

I brought it upstairs, 
gave it a big drink of water
waited to see what time and light
 would do for it.

Thankfully, I had not read the fact sheet stating that amaryllis planted in rocks and water without soil
would not re-bloom.
The photo below proves they will re-bloom.
There was a rebirth.

Now the Christmas plant has bloomed for Easter.

Last week, my daughter sent me a text with a photo of daffodils attached.
Daffodils are my favorite flower.
They are a beautiful symbol of hope and rebirth.
She had made an arrangement with the flowers that combined springtime objects that gave her sweet memories.
One item in the arrangement were the salt and pepper shakers that once belonged to our dear Julie.

This next week will be a hard one for us.
Easter is a mixed occasion of joy and grief for me.
The last time I saw Julie was on Easter of 2010.
On April 8, Julie would have turned 39 years old.
Easter 2010

If I knew nothing about life, and death, and about faith in a God in Whom I can trust,
I would have completely been undone when my daughter died.
Many, many years ago I came to faith in Jesus Christ.
I went down paths that led away from my belief,
But I did not remain on those misleading paths.
I returned to faith.
When I needed that faith in the most,
My need was met by Jesus, the one trusted as a young girl, with grace and continued healing.

Easter brings me joy and hope.
Tomorrow, I will raise my voice in joyful Hallelujahs of praise for the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I will join others around the world when it is announced 
He is Risen
By saying,
He is Risen Indeed.

A few day later, on what would have been Julie’s birthday,
I will remember Julie with these words penned by C.S. Lewis as an epitaph for his beloved Joy:

“Here the whole world (stars, water, air,
And field, and forest, as they were
Reflected in a single mind)
Like cast off clothes was left behind
In ashes, yet with hopes that she,
Re-born from holy poverty,
In lenten lands, hereafter may
Resume them on her Easter Day."

Have a blessed Easter.

Unspeakable and Unimaginable

The unspeakable has happened again.
Our hearts are broken anew.
Another brilliant, gifted, valiant soul has lost his battle with depression.

The unimaginable has happened again.
Unimaginable.  That is the word my daughter used to describe suicide.

When I first heard of the death by suicide of Robin Williams, after the initial sudden wave of shock and sadness that hit me had passed, concern for those who suffer from depression, bi-polar disease, addiction, suicide ideation, or other forms of mental illness filled my mind with an all too familiar fear for their safety and well-being.  My mind began asking questions.  How will those who suffer deeply and struggle daily with these battles, these demons, respond to the news?  Will the insidious face of suicide ideation stalk the minds of those who struggle with an illness that can become so debilitating?  Will they know where to get help?  Will they get help?  Will suicide somehow become glorified?  Will the news media handle this news and all that might accompany it responsibly?

Within five minutes of hearing the news of the death of Robin Williams, my phone rang.  Having just driven into the driveway after a day spent on the road returning from a few days spent with my mother, and having just greeted my husband with a hug and a kiss, I took my phone from my purse and saw that the call was from my former husband, the father of my children. With my head still full of those questions I had just asked myself, and with a heart full of concern for others, the name on my phone screen triggered a deep reaction.  I think fear entered my mind when I saw his name because somehow I knew the call was linked to the news that we all were just hearing.  My mouth was suddenly dry when I said hello.  I struggled to remain calm as I awaited to hear the purpose for the call.  Fear was raging through my emotions.  Was something wrong?

Today, I have struggled over whether or not I should write this post.  I've questioned adding my voice to all the other voices that have been heard since yesterday's news of William's death became public.  I decided to write this post about suicide because I believe that part of my own healing involves me adding my voice to the throngs of others whom have lost a loved one to suicide.  I write this to bring suicide out of the darkness and into the light.  When we don't speak of what has been the unspeakable, those who struggle with depression and mental illness feel more alone.  The stigma of suicide becomes stronger than the message that there is hope and there is help for those who struggle.

On the evening before the day that marked what would have been the forty-eighth wedding anniversary for my former husband and myself, we spoke in voices to each other that expressed support and concern over our children.  News such as the news that has been all over the media traumatizes survivors of suicide.  My former husband, my children, other family members, and friends are all survivors of suicide.  Those who suffer the death of loved one by suicide are called survivors.  We also are quite familiar with the effects of PTSD that can be triggered very easily.  As my one daughter said to me today, "We have to give Mom and Dad a pass on this.  They have suffered deeply.  They will never get over Julie's death.  They will always fear for the rest of us.  We have to give them a pass."

I've read many things today about a subject that is just way too close to home for me.  Friends have reached out to me today expressing thoughts of concern and support.  I spoke with a trusted helper today who helped me understand why I seek to deal with those things which cannot be understood.

I will never fully understand why my daughter took her life.  I will never fully understand the pain and suffering that she endured in her life.  I will grieve her death until the day I die.  I will also celebrate the life and memory of the beautiful, talented, intelligent, funny, articulate, hardworking daughter that graced my life.  I will continue to give thanks for remaining four children whose lives enrich my life and bring me much joy and pride.

I was woefully unknowledgeable about mental illness when Julie was alive.  I am cognizant that awareness about mental health issues is where I must now focus my attention.  We all need to recognize warning signs of suicide.  We need to arm ourselves with effective interventions and treatments.  I carry a card with the warning signs of suicide in my wallet.  I have a list of them next to my computer.  I refer to the list of indicators of serious depression when I think I recognize it in others.  I ask hard questions when I think they need to be asked.  I try to keep my head out of the sand and my eyes open.  I try to keep my heart in tune so I recognize those who need a helping hand.  I will not let the stigma that once surrounded suicide silence me.

The topic of suicide has been unspeakable for too long.

The unimaginable pain that a suicide brings to those left behind is just that:  unimaginable.

Please join me in doing what you can to prevent suicide by arming yourself with information.  Visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to print out this information.

If you are in crisis, or know someone who is, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Valentine's Day Reflections on Love and Loss

A Reflection on Love and Loss

So many words will be spoken about love today.
Some will be forgotten by tomorrow.
Flowers will be sent.
Candy will be received.
Cards will be picked out that the sender hopes will send just the right message.
Love is in the air,
or so it seems.

I would not describe myself as a romantic.
Generally, I don't read romance novels.
In fact, if the truth be told,  romance novels grate on my nerves.
I do love to read great love stories.
I like love stories that read like real life.
I like stories that tell how love survives no matter what life throws at it.
Or I like stories where the love may not survive,
but the person survives the loss of love and thrives after that loss.

I guess I'm too realistic to be a romantic.

I've learned real love outlasts dazzling romance.

When my husband and I married, 
I had a song sung at our wedding by Michael Card.  
The lyrics to the song are taken from the Song of Solomon.
"Arise, My Love"

I love the words of this song because they speak truth.
They speak of a love that honors the loved one.
The song speaks of seeking that the love one has for the other be sealed on the loved one's heart.

Set me like a seal on your heart,
For love is unyielding as the grave.
The flash of it is a jealous fire,
No flood can quench,
For love is as strong as death.

Even though we were "older when we married,

we had not idea what life would bring us when we married.
 No one does.
Jim and Sally 1992

Since those early days of marriage, we've aged.
We've been through good times, very good times.
We've been through rough times,  very rough times,
Today, more than twenty years after our marriage, I rejoice that I can say

My beloved is mine, and I am his.
Song of Solomon 2:16 NKJV

Jim and Sally 2013

Our's is a romantic story, but it is also a story of faithfulness in times of trial and loss.
It is about two people who deeply love and respect each other.
It is about two people who are as different from one another as any two can be.
It is a story about how differences between two people give strength to the relationship.
Where I am weak, he is strong.
And, the vice versa is also true.
Our's is a story of how the relationship between two people created a great team.
It is a story of deep companionship.
I have learned a lot about love from this man that I married.

Loss has also taught me much about love.

The biggest lesson of all is:

Love does not die.

As I look at this photo that Julie took of Phoenix on her last Valentine's Day on this earth,
I am overcome with grief in many ways.
(I also apologize to her siblings if this photo causes them too much pain when they see this.)
Certainly, I am so overwhelmed with a sense of loss today that tears have been silently falling from my eyes nearly all morning.
News that a friend of Julie's just learned of her death just sent all of us back into new waves of grief.

Grief is like that.

It assaults you, the griever, when you least need or want its presence in your life.
Today, my bereavement feels as fresh as newly fallen snow.
Bereavement ~ to be torn apart.

I mourn anew.

…mourning is the outward expression of grief.

So what am I to learn about love  on this day dedicated to love?

I've learned that I am shifting and moving to a new place.

I am moving from the relationship of the presence of my dearly loved daughter being in my daily life
the place where
I have a deeper relationship with the memory of her.

I see the photo above and I smile.

I remember an exchange with her about the photo and the heart that she claimed Phoenix drew for her in the snow.

I am learning that my love for her has only gotten stronger as time passes.

The loved one lives on in the heart of the one who loved him or her so deeply.

For me, my love for my daughter is always fresh and new.

Not all memories of her are happy.

Sometimes, the memories are filled with anger, pain, and deep sorrow.
Other memories make me laugh.
Some memories of her fill me with so much pride.
Memory honors the loved one best when it remembers them as they really were.

The memories of Julie are sharp at times, and blurred at other times.

I no longer focus on the death of my daughter as much I remember her life.

This is a healing place to be.

Silly picture of Julie making faces with Phoenix

I feel blessed because Julie was so deeply loved by so many.

She had so many friends.
They continue to love her.
The memory of her has not died.

Oh, how I wish she were still here making memories with us,

but, she is not.

She remains safely sealed with  love in my heart.

Love is stronger than death.

Love remains.

The Long Weekend

It began Thursday evening.
Already, everyone I encountered out in the marketplace was saying,
"Have a good weekend."
"And so it begins," I thought.
"Memorial Day Weekend is upon us again."

By Friday, I had a sort of mixed anxiety running through my mind.
I was excited to have 
the long weekend
 that has always signaled the beginning of summer.
I dreaded
 the long weekend
that would forever mark the loss of my beloved daughter.

"You really hit us with a double whammy, Julie," I thought.
"We don't just have one anniversary date of your death.
We have the actual date of your death 
to deal with,
and we have a holiday weekend, when your death occurred
to deal with."

When the greetings came,
"Have a good weekend,"
I simply composed myself and said, "Thank you."
I needed all the good wishes I could get.

Jim asked what I wanted to do for the weekend.
"I think the best plan is to keep busy," I replied.
On Friday,
we went flower shopping and got my small little garden planted.
This year my garden will be pots of flowers.

I supervised the removal of much rock, the roots of Russian sage that invaded the property, and planned in my mind how I would plant the new planting spaces being created around our new home.

Our new gate for the deck.
On Saturday
we went to a matinee at wonderful old theater downtown to see "The Great Gatsby."
We loved it.

On Sunday,
We went to church.
The hymns for the day were just what I need to hear, sing, and ponder.
Only God can move a mountain; 
Only God can calm a sea.
Only God can heal a wounded spirit...

O joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain, and feel the promise is not vain,
that morn shall tearless be.
A photo of Julie, Amy, and Me
The painted rainbow rock that Julie painted for me when she was a child

During communion, I was renewed in my spirit and thankful that my faith has sustained me through all of the days before and after Julie's death.
I am grateful for the great measure of grace that God has given me throughout all of my days.

After church, Jim and I took daughter Trinette and her husband to the airport.
It was wonderful to see this beautiful couple off to Florida for a small "honeymoon" after all these years of marriage.  Trinette looked so young and beautiful and so excited.

We then went to the cemetery to leave flowers on Julie's grave, and on the grave of my father.

On Monday,
we went to the small little town of Monument just a few miles from our house.
Jim wanted to check out a coffee shop/cafe that was there.
Serrano's was great!
My sister met us there.
We had a wonderful lunch and visit. 

We spent much of the weekend walking in our neighborhood,
sitting on the back deck,
socializing with neighbors,
and enjoying the beauty of the world that surrounds us.

May 29, 2013
marks the third anniversary of Julie's death.
I'm going to lunch with my dear friend, Linda Button.
Dr. Linda Button
Sally Wessely
presenting at CCIRA Conference 2013
Linda has been there for me as a friend, sounding board, encourager, and sustainer throughout these three long years.  I treasure her friendship.  It is unbelievable that we now live in the same town and attend the same church. I don't know what I'd done without friends like Linda these past three years.

I try to keep my memories of Julie alive and well.
I find that in my mind, Julie belongs to another realm now.
Without my wanting to, I've assigned her to another domain.
She seems to be a part of a life that no longer exists.
A part of me died when Julie did.

Does the death of a child ineluctably cause a part of a mother's heart to die?

There are days when the clouds fill the sky and threaten storms.

In those moments,
I am reminded 
that the sunshine follows the storm,
that rainbows bring hope and symbolize promises,
that with each spring there is new growth.

I've not walled off that broken heart.
I'm allowing it to heal.
I am moving forward.

This weekend,
I focused on

For those of you who wish to remember Julie
I'm adding two videos.
Watch them later in they are too real of reminders of that beautiful woman that we lost.

In Memory of Our Beloved Jules
April 8, 1976 - May 29, 2013

Julie & Mason
Mother's Day 2008

Julie & Hannah
Mother's Day 2008