Friday, April 23, 2010

The Last Picture

I posted this picture previously, but a photographer friend recently helped brighten things up so we could see Elyse much better. For those of you who didn't see it before, this is the last picture we have of her before she went to be with Jesus.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Colorado Weekend

We just got back from a weekend out in Denver. We had planned this one since January. My Dad's 80th birthday was April 15, and pretty much the entire family (and many extended family) converged on Denver for the weekend to celebrate.

It was a great tribute to Dad and a great time to connect with so many in our family. On Saturday afternoon, we traveled up to Boulder to the cemetery where my Grandparents and Great Grandparents are buried in a family plot. It was cool to hear my Dad and his cousins share family history and to connect all the proverbial dots on the family tree. Saturday evening, about 30 of us converged on a local restaurant and had a great evening celebrating Dad. In true Carey family fashion, my Dad gave a speech and shared his heart of gratitude for his family, friends and country. I'm proud to call myself his son and am grateful for the influence he's had on me... especially teaching me work ethic, patriotism, and what it means to grant grace and true forgiveness.

A good portion of the rest of our time in Denver was spent with our dear friends the Babbs. They threw a party for us on Sunday night and invited some other great friends of ours that live in the area. It was just cool to connect with others that are in very similar life stages with us. We were reminded how blessed we are with great friends.

Monday morning... the Denver Zoo with Sarah, Monica and all the kids. Peter loved all the animals and getting to run around with all his friends. It's a cool zoo with tons to see. Definitely worth more than the small price you pay to get in... and we got free passes!

Monday afternoon turned out to be quite special. My sister, who lives in Denver, gave birth to her ninth child on Sunday night. Amy Katherine was born at 9:45pm, was 9 lbs 4 oz, 21" long and is beautiful! Of all nine births, this was the first time I got to see one of her newborns in the hospital. Was a blessing for April, Peter and I to spend some quality time with Cindy and Amy.

We finally made it back to Fresno last night around 11pm after a 45 minute delay due to no flight attendant and drunk guys in the exit row. Peter also made himself known to pretty much everyone on the plane for the first half of the flight. Now it can be confirmed... we are the family that people dread when they get on the plane. Oh well, I wouldn't trade it for anything!

All in all it was an okay trip. There were a couple of days that were pretty tough on us. Lots of wishing that our little girl was with us, and often people just not knowing what to say around us. At the same time, we were blessed by some people that really did know what to say, and they spoke words of life and grace into us.

As soon as I figure out the right words, I'm going to do a post on the things people say or don't say to people going through major grief. We have really learned a lot in the last two months about the process and how people want and need to be treated as they go through it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Elyse's Last Picture

Since we've been back from vacation, I've actually been working full days in the office, which has contributed to the demise of this blog. Eventually I'll try to figure out how to keep this up and keep my paycheck coming in. So keep coming back. I promise more to come.

Last night I was browsing through pictures on the computer. I do this every once in awhile to keep her memories in the front of my mind. This one would stop me in my tracks.
February 14, 2010 - 6:23pm

That evening, April had prepared the most amazing Valentine's Day dinner for Peter and me. She even brought out the fine china. Because she and her sister have a cooking blog, she had been taking lots of pictures of the meals she had been preparing lately, so the camera was always on the kitchen counter, ready to catch whatever was her latest creation.

We've browsed our pictures a hundred times since we lost Elyse, but hadn't discovered her in the background of this one. This is the last recorded memory we have of her... maybe 8-9 hours before she went to be with our Lord.

I'm holding her in the way that I most often did, sitting on my arm, upright, looking around and taking everything in. She always wanted to be apart of what was going on around her. This picture is even more special because many times I'd bring Elyse down from upstairs and we'd walk around that corner and see Peter and Mommy. She'd usually get a huge smile on her face when she saw them. In this case, we were just waiting for dinner: a couple minutes away from sitting down and sharing a normal evening together at home.

Oh how the next several hours would change our lives forever.

In my heart, I still hold my little girl like this. I always will. Tomorrow is 8 weeks. For some reason, the time just continues to pass. I've been finding, in this past week, some of the deepest pain I've felt since her Memorial Service. I suppose that God's answering my prayer and keeping her close to my heart. Perhaps I'm starting to process more and more of the whole thing. I just know that it continues to be a deep hurt. A day doesn't go by without some moment of intense grief.

So I continue to cling to our Lord, proclaim those things I know to be true about His love, sovereignty and faithfulness; and I move forward, knowing that I have a son who needs a Dad and a wife who needs a husband. Elyse is safely in her heavenly Father's arms, taking in everything in her new home. She has no pain. She has no hurts. She has no worries.

I sure can't wait to see that girl again.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Elyse's First Birthday Celebration that lasted 9 days

We are finally home from what has been our longest vacation in over 3 years. 9 whole days away from home. As we mourn the loss of Elyse, our hearts' desire is to honor and remember her on a regular basis, and to celebrate the time we had with her. We are striving to create special times as a family to be together, talk about her, cry with each other, and even try to have some fun in the whole process. Here's how we spent the last 9 days:

Thursday... Disneyland

We were way blessed by our friends John and Christie with complimentary park-hopper tickets. Sara (April's sister) and Eric brought Sam & Ben. The three boys had a blast together and loved just about every ride we took them on. Buzz, Small World, Tea Cups, Peter Pan, Pirates, and all the kids' rides at California Adventure. We ended up staying there for a whole 13 hours, and I don't think Peter hardly ever melted down. It was a phenomenal day, and a great time to connect as a family.

Friday... No Agenda
Friday morning we ran around the workout track at the park near my sister's house in Alta Loma, where we were staying. What a great morning to just hang out, get some exercise, and then be lazy. Yard House for lunch. Buy Cliff some new running shoes. Then off to watch all the Hume crew doing some filming for the summer video nearby. Highlight of the day... on the way home, we saw a guy riding his motorcycle down the street STANDING on his seat, with his arms out wide to balance him. Didn't have time to get the picture.

Saturday... Elyse's Birthday
I'll be writing a separate post on how we celebrated her birthday.

Sunday... Tom and Cindy's
Tom and Cindy live out in Valley Center, about a half hour beyond Escondido. For years they've been telling us that we need to come out and stay with them for a few days. And of course, we think... yeah, who would want to vacation in Valley Center?  Well... we do. This was the most amazing 2 days for us. They rolled out the red carpet. The Master Suite. Home-made meals. Age appropriate toys for Peter. Coffee on the patio overlooking the valley and all the orange orchards (it smelled like Soarin' Over California). The name of the game was rest, and rest we did. They were a great encouragement to us, and Cindy gave us a lot of insight into how Peter's probably dealing with the loss of Elyse. It was sad to leave after such quality time.

Monday... The Wild Animal Park
Last year we had annual passes and even spent Peter's 2nd birthday there. It was fun to go back and enjoy the day with Jay, Jen and Tanner. Peter loved feeding the Big Horn Sheep lots of leaves.

Peter and Tanner had a blast together seeing all the animals, and again it was a good day.

Tuesday... San Diego
Another day with very little agenda. Breakfast at Con Pane, our favorite bakery. Quality time with friends. We even drove the route of the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon that we're both running June 6. When we got back to Pt. Loma, Peter had a blast playing in the big tree right outside of the house. He was well entertained for over an hour.

Wednesday... Sea World
We were pleasantly surprised. The Shamu show was quality. Peter loved the Beluga Whale, the Dolphins, and the Sharks. We got our annual passes for the next two years so are planning quite a few trips back.

Thursday... The Long Trip Home
A long day through So Cal traffic, but quality time in the car with my family. The entire trip was exactly what we needed, but we are sure glad to be home. It's good to have Peter back in his normal environment. For April and I, we have two month remaining to train for this 13.1 mile race on June 6. (Are we crazy?)

As Good Friday comes to a close, and Easter Sunday approaches, I must admit that we have an entirely different perspective on Christ's redemptive work on the cross, and the pain the Father must have gone through to sacrifice His one and only Son. We are so grateful for His sacrifice, and even more grateful for the redemptive work of the Resurrection. We truly find ourselves longing for heaven more than ever before. We long for redemption and perfect peace, and of course we long to see our little girl in her glorified body. And we long to see Jesus face to face and hear Him say, "Well done!"