Pieces from The Mighty

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Love of a Parent is Forever

Holidays are difficult when you have lost a loved one. Of course every single day is difficult, but holidays seem to really be a kick in the gut. It is a time of love, laughter, and family. However, when part of your family is missing, it makes things a little (okay, a lot) sad.

When we were Christmas shopping earlier in the month, Ellie told me that she needed to buy Robby a present, so she picked out a small matchbox car. Ellie is three, and is really into every aspect of Christmas this year, so she also insisted that we wrap it up for him.

On Christmas Eve we went out to the cemetery where Robby is buried.  Ellie unwrapped Robby’s present, and played with the little red car on his stone. She had received a package in the mail  from Santa the day before, which included snow from the North Pole and some Reindeer food to sprinkle in the yard before bed on Christmas Eve. Ellie pulled both containers out of her Minnie Mouse backpack that she had packed up and then she “showed” them to Robby. She very carefully took the lid off of the snow, put her little fingers in the container,  pulled out some “snow”and then sprinkled it on his stone. She told Robby that Santa sent her this snow from his house. Then she opened up the reindeer food and did the same thing, as she let Robby know that now Rudolph would know where to find him. It broke my heart yet made my heart full all at the same time knowing that she wanted to “share” with her big brother. Her brother whom she has never actually met.  

When we go to visit Robby, I like to walk around Babyland and look at the different things that are out for the other angel babies. I  talk with Ellie about the different decorations that are out, and we say some of the baby names out loud. I like to say and hear Robby’s name said out loud because it validates his existence to me, so it has become natural to do the same for other angel babies as well. This year, I noticed several different stones that were decorated for Christmas. They were stones of babies who were born many years ago. These babies were born in 1980, 1986, 1992 and 1993. The 1992  really hit home for me because I was born in 1992. These parents,23 years later, still come to their angel baby's grave and put out Christmas decorations.

As I sat at Robby’s grave, I’m going to be honest, I cried...a lot.

I did not cry because I am living in the past.
I did not cry because I don’t appreciate the beautiful living child that I have.
I did not cry because I can’t move on.

I cried because this Christmas and every Christmas for as long as I live, I won’t ever get to see my little boy’s eyes light up on Christmas morning while opening presents.

I cried because he won’t ever have a picture with Santa.

I cried because the love of a parent is forever.

I’m praying for all of the parents who have suffered a loss- whether it has been a recent loss, or it has been many years. A loss is difficult whether it is new or old because  the love of a parent is forever.

“I'll love you forever,

I'll like you for always,

As long as I'm living,

my baby you'll be.”

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ellie Is Three

It is hard for me to believe that three years ago today our sweet little Ellie was born. When I think back to that day, I have different feelings than what a lot of mothers have. That was such a scary day for us. When I went into labor that morning, I wanted to hope that my doctors would be able to keep Ellie in longer, but I knew that with my history, the chances were not likely. I knew that Ellie would be born soon, and that we would not make it to Thanksgiving (32 weeks) like we had been praying that we would.

For 7 weeks, there wasn’t a doctor in the NICU who would look me in the eye and tell me that Ellie would survive. It wasn’t until she was 49 days old that we received the glorious news from her NICU doctor that she would survive. Born 14 weeks too soon, she had a brain bleed, ROP (Retinopathy of prematurity), pneumonia at only a week old, Chronic Lung Disease after the first several weeks, and she was on oxygen-intubated for most of her hospital stay. She had so many setbacks, and at times I thought that the roller coaster would not ever end. We spent so much time going up and down, and then we would have some smoother days, then we would be back up and down again. Then it happened, Ellie finally came home. She came home on monitors and oxygen but she finally came home. Since then, life has not been easy.  Ellie had chronic lung disease, and because of that  we kept her isolated for such a long time in order to keep her as well as possible and to keep her from having to go back to the hospital.  We are still extremely careful about germs and what she is exposed to because  after 3 years it has become a habit more than anything, but we do continue to ease up every single day. Ellie’s doctor said a couple months ago that he believes that any and all of the problems that Ellie had when she was born have been resolved. He went on to say that he does not have any concerns about her. We are truly blessed.

Ellie was born on October 15, which happens to be a significant date for two other reasons. The first reason being that on October 15 , 2011, I found out that I was pregnant with Robby. The second reason is that it is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. The past two years I have not mentioned Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day on October 15th  because it is on the same day as Ellie’s birthday, however, I have been thinking a lot about it over these past few months, and I have started to form a new outlook on it.

Ellie’s birthday falling on October 15 is a constant reminder of how incredibly blessed we are. When Ellie was born, the outlook for her was bleak. She was so tiny when she was born- 1 pound 12 ounces. She was so small  and she looked so fragile. Her head was black  due to bruising from being stuck. We are truly blessed that she is here with us today. We are so blessed that instead of spending Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day honoring her memory like we do Robby’s memory,we are able to celebrate her life and that she is still living. Ellie’s outcome could have been so different, but it wasn’t, and for that, we praise God.Ellie brings so much joy into our lives, and she is a constant reminder of how great God is and how prayer truly does change things.  

So, today on October 15, we are going to spend the day celebrating our little miracle, Ellie. But we will also be remembering Robby,who we lost in February of 2012. 
We will be remembering the babies that I miscarried last month, in September of 2015. 
And on this awareness day, we will also be remembering all of the babies who have been taken too soon.

As we embark on Ellie becoming a “three-nager” I want to remember each and every day how blessed we are. Ellie is strong, tough, funny, loving, loud, energetic, demanding, extremely inquisitive, and a very strong willed child. We love each and every quality and characteristic that she has.  Ellie has such a strong will that some days are a challenge, but each and every challenging day is a gift, a precious gift.

Happy Birthday sweet Princess <3 We love you more than you will ever know!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Build Up Rather Than Tear Down

Grief never ends… But it changes.
It’s a passage, not a place to stay.
Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…
It is the price of love.
~Author Unknown

Let’s talk about grief. Grieving is something that is brought up a lot in my blog, but I usually try to keep it to my end of year recaps, or Robby’s birthday blog. However, due to some recent events, I feel like I need to talk about it some more.

One of the many things that I have learned since starting my blog, and then starting Project Robby, is that I have opened myself up to a lot of things.

*I have opened myself up to good things such as meeting people who have such wonderful, giving hearts.
* I have opened myself up on this blog, sharing my personal thoughts,  in hopes of helping others.
*I have been connected with other loss moms.
*Through  the help of everyone who has donated, we are able to touch so many lives through Project Robby.
*We are able to bless families with hats and blankets that fit their tiny child. They have something special, and they are reminded that their child, no matter how early or tiny is special too.  

And, for all of these things, I am truly thankful. I have been blessed beyond measure!

However, in the past couple of days I have realized that along with all of the good things, I have also opened myself up to something that does not feel very good and something I did not expect- judgement.

As many loss moms know, grief is something that people very openly have an opinion on.  I am sorry to say that in the past I have been judged by a few extended family members and friends before, and I have learned how to accept their opinions, forgive them, and move on. However, up until a few days ago I had never  felt or realized that people who don’t really know me and are not apart of my life were also judging me openly and publicly. Judging me in the way that I am dealing with my grief from losing Robby.  After experiencing it, I can say first hand that it is a terrible feeling.

So, I would like to try to turn a negative (people judging my grief journey publicly) into a positive ( that someone might take a little bit of what I am saying in my blog and apply it) .

I will not get into the details of what all happened because the details truly don’t matter. However, I do feel that maybe God put this event in my life for a reason, and maybe that reason is for me write this blog. Maybe there is someone else out there who needs to read this. So, if you are someone who has experienced a loss,  if you are a family member of someone who has experienced a loss, a friend of someone who has experienced a loss, or maybe even just  someone who is looking for some perspective on the subject- this blog is for you.

Grief is something that is so very personal, and we all grieve in our own ways. One of my biggest pieces of advice to other loss moms (and dads) is to grieve however you need to grieve and grieve however long you need to grieve. Even with my recent run in with others judging me, this is still some of my biggest advice. I stand by that statement with my whole heart. I feel that you are not truly working through your grief if you speed up the process just to make someone else happy, or to dodge some judgement.  I have learned that if I step back quietly during rough patches of my grief I get labeled “insensitive,” “living in the past,” and “lacking compassion,” however, if I try to explain why I am stepping back quietly I get labeled “ insensitive,” lacking compassion,” and “living in the past.”

Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
So, before you offer an opinion to someone for how they are grieving, I want you to stop, think, and then keep it to yourself.

Please do not ever tell a grieving parent that they are not “normal.” I will tell you what isn’t “normal,”- having to bury your child. Trust me, that is not normal. Please do not tell them that they are bad parents to their living children because they are walking the path of grief. Being a grieving parent does not make you a bad parent!  It also doesn’t make you a bad parent when you talk about your child that has passed away  with your living child. Please do not try to tell someone that you “understand” their grief because you have a friend who suffered a miscarriage. Unless you have actually walked in the same shoes  as the mother who has lost her child, please just tell them how sorry you are that they are having to walk this path.

Before I lost Robby, I had no idea what to say and what to not say to someone who had lost a child.. I had no idea that certain things were so hurtful to parents who had lost a child. As part of my grief journey, I have been able to realize that most people say things so innocently, without realizing they are hurting me, and certainly not thinking that their words could be hurtful. Now, at this point in my grief journey, I am able to look past those innocent things, and take them simply as words spoken in an effort to be helpful. Unfortunately, I have learned that there are still people out there who intentionally say things to hurt me because in their minds my grief journey is not justified.  Instead of telling someone how they should be grieving, please tell them that if they need anything you are there for them. Whether it has been 10 days since their loss or 10 years since their loss, just be there for them.

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

I love that quote because it is so accurate. There are days, weeks, and even months now that are not very hard at all, but then there are days that the pain of missing Robby hits me like a wave. Am I sad all of the time now? No, I can honestly say that I am not. Do I miss my little boy? Yes, I miss him fiercely.  However, unlike after he first died, I do not sit at home and cry all day. Did I when he first died? Yes, I did.  After Robby died I just stayed at home so that I did not have to be around anyone, especially young children! That was where I was in my grief journey then (nearly 3 ½ years ago), but thanks to supportive friends and family, I have come so far from that.

When I think of Robby or talk about him with Ellie, I have a smile on my face because Robby was a blessing. When I talk to Ellie about her big brother, Robby, it is not ever in a sad way because I do not want her to think that Robby’s memory brings me sadness. Robby’s memory brings me joy because he  is my child. I wish he were here with us, but that is not our reality. However, someday we will all be together again in Heaven, and what a glorious day that will be.

I am thankful for Project Robby, because it has helped me to heal. I talked about Robby in public for the very first time during my KWCH 12 interview. It was a hard step to make because it made me vulnerable, but it was a step forward in my grieving process. Unfortunately, I have recently learned that there are people who might think that Project Robby is just a way for me to continue to “live in the past.” Let me be very clear here with my response to that, “It is not!” Project Robby is a way for me to take the pain of losing Robby, and turn it into something positive- which is to help other families who have lost a child. It is our mission to make sure that parents who have lost babies know that their baby was special, and is important. Through Project Robby, we want to make sure that each family has something special for their baby, and something special for the parents to hold onto. Working through my grief will be a lifelong process, and I want to help other families who are beginning their process. I want them to know that there is someone out there who understands.

“Sometimes the people around you won't understand your journey. They don't need to, it's not for them.”

I actually have a list of “milestones” if you will, that I want to be able to achieve. Goals. Steps forward in my grief journey. So far, I have marked off many of these milestones, and I think that in the next couple of weeks I am going to be able to cross off a major one as a dear friend of mine is expecting a little boy and she is due anytime now. I am so excited for her and her husband, and I can not wait to meet my (honorary) nephew! That will be a blog for a different day though! I want to thank this friend for the grace that she has shown to me during her pregnancy. She has been so kind, thoughtful, and compassionate and for that I am truly thankful. She is a wonderful friend, and I can’t wait to watch her experience the joy of having a baby!

I want to thank my family and friends who have stuck by me in this ocean of grief. Waves come, but then they settle, and I am thankful for those who have stuck those waves out with me. I am thankful for those who held my hand during those waves. However,  there are some people who have not stuck with me during the waves, and that is okay. It really is okay! Some people can not handle the waves, and some people want me to just act as if the waves are not there.  The waves will always come, but with the help of supportive family and friends I can swim through those waves, and thankfully those waves are not very fierce anymore.

The people who have stuck with me have been able to see my progress. My progress might be slow, but the friends and family who have been there  with me through the waves have been able to witness how far I have come. I have found that the people who judge me the most are those who could not handle holding my hand through the waves, and therefore dropped out. Unfortunately, they still think that I am at the same place in my journey that I was when they couldn’t handle to hold on any longer.  I wish that they could see how far my journey has come. I do not blame these people for not holding on during the waves, this is a hard journey. I am so grateful to the people who have stuck it out with me, because I know it has not been easy!

I will say it one last time:

Before you  offer your opinion to  someone for how they are grieving, I want you to stop, think, and then just don’t say it.

Next time you are tempted to pass judgement on grieving parents, I want you to really think about your words. Try to find a way to build them up and make sure that your words won’t tear them down instead. Maybe instead of judging this person you could do something helpful. Maybe  you could donate to a cause that is in place to help grieving families.

If you are experiencing a fierce wave of grief, or if you have questions on what you can do to help someone who is dealing with the loss of a child, please feel free to email me at:
projectrobby24@gmail.com . I would be very happy to lend an ear, pray for you, or try to help in any way that I can.

I have compiled a list of places other than Project Robby that help grieving families, and I encourage you to, instead of judging someone, help make a difference. Instead of spewing judgment, spread love <3

  • Molly Bears
  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
  • Compassionate Friends
  • The Tears Foundation

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Anniversary Ramblings

Four years ago today,  Tanner and I had an absolutely perfect, fairy tale wedding. On one of the happiest days of our lives we stood up in front of our family and friends, and we promised to love each other for the rest of our lives.

We promised to love each other for better or worse

Through richer or poorer.

In sickness and in health.

In good times and in bad.

Aside from the “richer” part of the vows, we have so far experienced each and every one one of the other things that we vowed. Actually,  we hit all of those milestones before we even celebrated our first anniversary. Just as we promised, we have loved each other through poorer, sickness, health, good times, and bad times.

Disney has given us the phrase “Happily Ever After,” but we all know that in reality this doesn't happen! I have learned  that it is okay to not have the perfect or the fairy tale marriage all of the time. Honestly, there is no such a thing as a “perfect marriage.” We live in an age where social media is a portal into other people’s lives. It can be an amazing thing, but it can also be extremely misleading. I know that we have all felt the need and the pressure to make things seem better than they really are for the purpose of Facebook. We want the world to think that everything is going great all of the time.

Unfortunately, life is not perfect all of the time!

I feel that Tanner and I  have a very good marriage but in all honesty, our marriage has not always been easy. Actually, at times I can say that it has been downright frustrating!

We have had so many good times. We have shared so many wonderful memories together, from the birth of our daughter, to spending holidays together, to celebrating each others accomplishments,  to everyday fun times and memories.  These are all things that have enriched our lives and strengthened our marriage.

However, we have also had disagreements, and there are times that we do not see eye to eye on things. We have learned to respect each others opinions because we are not the same person and we each have our own thoughts, ideas, wishes, desires, and even dreams.  This is part of what keeps our marriage exciting!

This past week we filled out a questionnaire that was circulating on Facebook(you will be able to read it at the end of this), and one of the questions was “how are you alike.” We both very confidently answered that we are not at all alike. We are two very different people which is one of the things that attracted me to Tanner nearly 8 years ago. Although we are extremely different from each other, we are still so very in love with each other.  Since we are opposites in many ways,  of course we have disagreements. Sometimes it is difficult to find a way to meld our dreams together, and it does take sacrifice on both ends. In my opinion, that is a big part of having a happy marriage- learning to communicate thoughts and feelings and then being able to compromise. One of the hardest things for me and Tanner has been to find ways to communicate our feelings with each other. This is where the frustrating part really comes in! Communication can be hard!

What I can say about the rough times is that everything that we have been through,the good and the bad, has made us stronger as individuals, and definitely stronger as a couple. I feel that we have done a good job of working together and finding ways to work through the difficult times in our marriage.

As everyone knows, Tanner and I  married at what most consider to be a young age. When we got married, we knew that we would have challenges, but we also knew that getting married was what was best for us, and it was what we wanted. Although our marriage hasn't been rainbows and unicorns every single minute of the past four years, it truly has been a wonderful four years. We have had some trying times, but how could we appreciate the good times without the trying times? Tanner and I are blessed to have a wonderful family who has loved and supported us through our marriage. I would like to offer a big “thank you” to my parents. They are especially appreciated because they have been such a wonderful example to us.

We have changed a lot in the last four years, but our love has grown and changed with us. We have changed for the better and we have done it together.

For your enjoyment, Tanner and I both took the quiz about each other, and here are the results :

1. What is something your husband always says to you? How much did that cost?

2. What makes your husband happy? Family dinners

3. What makes your husband sad? When I eat his dessert.

4. How does your husband make you laugh? Tanner tends to speak before he thinks which results in some pretty funny things coming out of his mouth!

5. What was your husband like as a child? Hyper and not very good at minding.

6. How old is your husband? 23

7. How tall is your husband? Taller than me, but short enough that I have to be careful how tall my wedges are.

8. What is his favorite thing to do? Just sit down and relax

9. What does your husband do when you're not around? Smoke cigars, drink QT drinks, and eat QT roller food

10. If your husband becomes famous, what will it be for? Having such an amazing wife ;)

11. What is your husband really good at? He’s a really good people person

12. What is your husband not very good at? Paying attention to directions

13. What does your husband do for a job? Drives around and sells stuff

14.What is your husband’s  favorite food? My mom’s creamy taco and homemade, iced brownie

15.What makes you proud of your husband? His dedication to me and to Ellie.

16. If your husband  were a character, who would he be? Tigger

17. What do you and your husband  do together? We watch How I Met Your Mother

18. How are you and your husband the same? We aren’t the same- at all.

19. How are you and your husband different? I’m a perfectionist, and he is not.

20. How do you know your husband loves you? He has always been so supportive of all of my dreams. He has been supportive of my dreams for Project Robby, and my dreams for continuing my education.

21. What does your husband like most about you? My dedication to shopping at Target all of the time instead of Von Maur.

22. Where is your husband’s  favorite place to go?The Shop ( The building where my dad runs his business)


1. What is something your wife always says to you? That's got germs on it
( I of course corrected him:  I say that HAS germs on it!)

2. What makes your wife happy? Crafting

3. What makes your wife sad? We don’t have a pool

4. How does your wife make you laugh? Her witty banter

5. What was your wife like as a child? Perfect

6. How old is your wife? 23

7. How tall is your wife? 5’ 4 ½”

8. What is her favorite thing to do? Go shopping

9. What does your wife do when you're not around? She's a mom

10. If your wife becomes famous, what will it be for? Writing a book

11. What is your wife really good at? Correcting me

12. What is your wife not very good at? Navigating  and deciding where to eat

13. What does your wife do for a job? She's a mom

14.What is your wife's favorite food? Mexican

15.What makes you proud of your wife? She’s following what she wants to do and  making her dreams happen

16. If your wife were a character, who would she be?  What's the one from Sleeping Beauty? Belle?
( I would like to point out that this is a direct quote!  Yes, I think Tanner  needs to brush up on his Disney Princess knowledge! )

17. What do you and your wife do together? Do you really want me to say this one out loud?  

18. How are you and your wife the same? We're not

19. How are you and your wife different? She doesn't eat Sonic Ice Cream

20. How do you know your wife loves you? She makes me lunches

21. What does your wife like most about you? I work hard

22. Where is your wife's favorite place to go? Target

Sunday, May 17, 2015

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!” ~ Dr. Seuss

This weekend we traveled to Hays, Kansas for my commencement ceremony at Fort Hays State University. I would call it my graduation ceremony, but since I actually graduated in December 2014 , I requested that everyone in my family refer to it as my commencement ceremony.

So, to mark this big occasion in my life, I have decided to blog about what I learned during my college journey.

Things that I learned in college:

  • Be Creative

I started out college as an elementary education major, and while I was taking those classes, it was easy to be creative because it was expected in that field. However, there were general education classes that took a little extra work to be creative in. It was my personal goal  in each major paper that I wrote to find some way to include a Dr. Suess or Walt Disney quote. I usually made this happen in the opening, closing, or my personal  favorite- the title! I had some teachers that truly  appreciated the lengths that I went to in order to add my own personal touch to each assignment, but some did not seem as amused!

One particular instance was in an art history class. The assignment was to choose an artist and write about one of his/her works of art. I, of course, decided to use Dr. Suess as my artist, and use the book “I Can Read with My Eyes Shut” as the specific work of art. The instructor was not amused, and made it clear that she was not thrilled with my choice. Although she did not agree with me, after she read my paper and listened to my presentation over Dr. Seuss's work of art, I ended up getting an A on the paper, she admitted that I was right about my choice and that it was a good one!  

  • Not all teachers will like you, but that is okay because in life not everyone will like you.

Since I was homeschooled, I always got along with my teacher, but that was not the case in college. However, it is a very important life lesson to learn. There are going to be people in life who do not like you, people who will not always agree with you, and there will be people whom you do not like either. The important thing is to learn how to respectfully deal with them because that is just part of life.

  • Being a “virtual student” doesn’t mean it was easy

It takes a lot of discipline to be an online student. I would write out my schedule for the week, and I had to stick to it. Since I was in online classes, I absolutely had to do all of the assigned reading, because not all teachers record lectures for you to listen to. There was a certain amount of “self teaching” involved. I found during my time as an online student that a majority of people thought that I was a virtual student because I was not smart enough to do school on campus. It was always very rewarding when some of these “said people”  (and even instructors) admitted that they were wrong and admired the work that I did.  Although being an online student was harder for me at times, it truly was what was best for me since I had to take into account my health issues.

  • Online classes do not have to be impersonal

Some online professors just give you the assignments and tell you to read the book and take your tests. However, there are other professors who take the time to really get to know the online students. They not only read all of the discussion board posts, but reply to them as well. I really looked forward to hearing back from my professors about the papers that I had poured myself into. I was lucky to have a handful of such wonderful professors who took the time to get to know me even though I was “only” an online student.

  • It is okay to change your mind

When I started college, I heard the statistic that on average, students change their major three different times in college. At the time, I thought that was absolutely crazy! I wondered how anyone could be so indecisive about what they wanted to do with their life and what they wanted to go to school for. However, I learned that it does happen. In life we grow, our priorities change, and as a result of that, our desires and passions sometimes take a different turn, and that is okay. For the record, I did end up changing my major 3 different times!

  • I’m not dissapointed that I didn’t get the  normal “college experience”

When we made the trip to Fort Hays this weekend, I was surrounded by “normal” college students. It really hit me how different I was from so many of them when we went to the Dean’s reception. As I sat at the back, with Ellie in the stroller next to me, there were people all around me talking and laughing with each other. They all looked at me and Ellie as if we were out of place, but I didn’t care. The fact is that if I had decided after high school to go to Emporia State University (which was a big consideration since I wanted to go into the teaching field), my life would be so different right now. If I had to go back in time, I would do it all over again the exact same way. As I sat there with Ellie and my mom, I wasn’t jealous of the other people there who were only worried about turning in their last assignments and getting moved out of the dorm before heading home for the summer, but I was happy to be exactly where I am.

  • Stand up for yourself

It is easy in college (and life) to just let people walk all over you and make decisions for you. I was raised that it is important to respectfully stand up for yourself, think for yourself, and be your own advocate. That point was driven home during my college experience. If I felt that a grade was wrong, or that something should be different, I approached the professor about it. In the end, the professors (generally) appreciated and respected my questions, concerns, and thoughts.

  • It is obviously really important to be able to watch a movie and write a paper about it.

I can’t even count on my fingers and toes how many movies I had to watch and then apply  to a certain topic during my time in college. I am not even referring to movies that were educational! It seemed like in each class I took I had to watch one or more movies, and then write a paper about a certain psychological aspect of that movie.  I have to admit, this was one of the things I least enjoyed about college- I would much rather write a research paper!

  • I want to do more because I found my passion

Once I realized that my life long dream to be a teacher was not going to happen due to health issues and before I realized that I wanted to major in Psychology, my main goal was to just get done with school. At that point in time I actually switched from an Elementary Education major to a General Studies major. I still wanted to get good grades, but my main goal was to just get done. Then I took an Abnormal Psychology class with an amazing professor, and my whole perspective changed. It was during that semester that I realized that I didn’t want to just be done with school. but that I found what area of study that became  important to me. I want to help people. More specifically, I want to help other families who have lost their children. Project Robby has really  helped to confirm that this is what I want to do, and I have decided to pursue a master’s degree in counseling with the intention of being able to help people through grief counseling. I am not sure at what point I will be able to go onto the master’s program as it is expensive and time consuming, but achieving this goal has become a top priority for not only me, but also for my entire support system (a.k.a my family)!

  • I have an amazing family

I have always known that I have an amazing family. We have always been very close, but during my college experience I truly realized how amazing and supportive my family is. I certainly could not have finished if it hadn't been for their constant support, love, and encouragement. There were times that I didn't think that I could keep going. During college, I had two semesters that made me question if I could continue on in college.  

The first semester was when my health issues hit and hit hard, and  I was diagnosed. At that  time, I was taking classes at Wichita State University, and not only were they on a large campus with a lot of walking, but they were also scheduled at night. My pain increased as the day went on, so by the time those classes rolled around in the evening, I could barely walk. Riding in the car was extremely painful and so the ride across town took what little energy I had left. My mom was the one who helped me wash my hair, get dressed, drove me to classes, and helped me get to those classes in a wheelchair. Yes, it was that bad. It was that semester that I learned that Wichita State was not going to be the college for me.

The second semester that I didn't think I would finish was the semester that Robby was born and then died. By that time I had learned about Fort Hays State University and their virtual program. I was an online student, and doing very well. The flexibility of the online classes was working out great with my health issues and I was thrilled that I didn't have to ride in a car to get to any of my classes! Then, I went into preterm labor with Robby, and he  was born too early and he died. My doctor wrote a note so that the teachers at FHSU realized that I was really having a true health crisis, and I wasn’t just trying to get out of work or making excuses. However, the note was only good while I was actually in labor-not afterwards when I was dealing with the pain and grief of losing my baby. Thankfully one of my professors was extremely compassionate for my circumstances, but the others, not so much. They didn't “know” me, and to them I was just another online student. I not only had to continue taking the  classes that I was enrolled in, but I had to go back and make up the work that I had missed while I was in labor and burying my baby- and I had to do so in a very timely fashion. I thought that I would just drop the classes, but unfortunately, It was beyond the drop date and the money could not and would not be refunded.

Even though we would have lost out on the money, I still  wanted to quit.  I just wanted to say screw it and be done for the semester and possibly permanently. They were only grades and I couldn't imagine being able to focus on a full class load while dealing with my grief.

My mom is the person who encouraged me to continue on, not just because there wouldn't be a refund, but because she knew that it would be for the best.  I don’t think that I have ever thanked her for doing that for me, for nudging me in the direction of continuing on. If it weren't for her, I would have quit that semester, and quite possibly never gone back. So, thank you mom, for pushing me gently into realizing that I needed to continue on that semester, even though it was hard. It was so incredibly hard.

My dad has been one of my biggest supporters of school ever since I was little. Although my mom was our teacher, my dad was always so supportive of whatever we were doing in school, and that didn't change once I started college. Although I do enjoy school, I do have my moments of meltdowns, and even through those, my dad has always been encouraging and supportive.

I also don’t think I could have made it through without my brother, Justin. He tutored me  through all of my statistics classes, and proof read each and every major paper that I turned in! He was my biggest cheerleader, and I know he will continue on being my biggest cheerleader throughout my grad school experience. 

I hadn't planned on actually going to the commencement ceremony, but my brother is the one who convinced me to go. I finally decided to walk not for myself, but for my family, because they were the driving force behind me. The actual walking experience was actually a lot of fun. Although I didn't know anyone beforehand, we spent plenty of time in the line up together, and it was a good experience to visit with the other graduates in line! It was nice to have the accomplishment of finishing college recognized.  

I wish that my Pop Pop could have been here to see me graduate. Since he was older and not very tech savvy, he had trouble grasping the concept of an online education, but he tried! He  always asked me how my “computer studies” were going. There wasn't a time that I talked to him that he didn't not only ask how my “computer studies” were going, but he always made sure to let me know how proud of me he was and all that I was accomplishing.Pop Pop was so invested in what I was doing in school that at any point in each semester Pop Pop could not only tell you what classes I was taking, but what my current grade in each class was!  The very last time I talked to Pop Pop on the phone  which happened to be the night that he passed away was not any different.  I called to check in with him, and  it happened to be the night before my summer classes were to start.  While we were on the phone he told me how proud he was of me, wished me good luck,  and told me how he knew that I was going to do so well. 

I know that if it had been possible for Nanny to be at the commencement ceremony this weekend she absolutely would have been there with bells on! Unfortunately, Nanny would  not have been able to make the three hour trip up there plus all of the walking that would have had to have been done. Thankfully we have technology on our side,  so Nanny was able to watch a video that my mom took of me being announced, recognized for my honors, and actually walking across the stage! Nanny has always been an encourager to me, and for that I am truly thankful. She has been nothing but supportive of me through my whole college experience. 

I am so lucky to have a husband who is willing to do whatever it takes to help me reach my goals of helping people through grief counseling. Even though we are young, he has always supported me in my school desires, and for that I am truly blessed. He is completely on board and doing all that is possible for the next step in the process- graduate school.

Thank you to everyone who supported me during my journey to my bachelor’s degree. Although I am not going to pursue a master’s degree right now, I feel certain that I will be doing so in the near future. I know that it won’t be easy,  but with the amazing amount of love and support that I have, I know that I will be successful at whatever I put my mind to.