Monday, November 24, 2008

Beads for Christmas

Emily wouldn't go anywhere without her beads. How surprised she was to get a whole box of them for Christmas one year!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Last Thanksgiving

We were excited to be spending Thanksgiving with friends in Florida last year. Little did we know that we'd be staying seven weeks and returning to Virginia without our Emily. Her leukemia relapsed for the second time while we were there. We were thankful that she was cared for by doctors and nurses she had known and loved for eight years. We held out hope for a bone marrow transplant, but it wasn't to be.

It was a gift from God that she was cared for in her last weeks by people we knew and had confidence in at Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital. She was happy to see them and didn't seem to understand that it wasn't a good thing that we were going back there. It was like an odd family reunion. Having spent over 200 nights in that hospital over an 8-year period, we felt like it and the Ronald McDonald House were our second home. Little did we know as we checked in last Thanksgiving that we'd be staying another 39 nights.

We are thankful that Emily was able to see her friends Madison, Alexis, and Amber many times before saying goodbye. Had we been in Virginia when the relapse happened, they might not have seen each other again this side of eternity.

We are thankful for how people ministered to us. Both friends and people we had never met showed us God's love.

We are thankful for the gift of Emily in our lives for over 13 years. She changed us.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Emily loved the beach.

She had the cutest little feet and loved to tell others who painted her toenails.

As we approach the one-year anniversary of losing our Emily, we regularly think about where we were and what we were doing a year ago. This time last year, Emily was celebrating Uncle Ron's birthday in her cowgirl outfit and touring the Blueridge Parkway with us. What wonderful memories!

Monday, September 22, 2008

A favorite oldie from days in Oklahoma. It reminds us of Emily's joy!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

As the new school year began and as autumn approaches, we think of Emily even more. She loved school. Just to make sure she was going to school the next day, she'd often say, "School tomorrow--bus tomorrow!" We drive by the bus stop every day and think of how much joy she got walking there to pet her two labrador friends before she'd hop on the bus.

Today we saw a beautiful Down syndrome girl with her parents at the store. And we see Sarah Palin's little Down's boy on TV... Each time we're reminded of our Emily. We thank God for her and pray that our culture would see the gift that these little ones are to our world instead of aborting 85% of them before they even get their first chance to breathe. God, forgive our nation.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Abby's & Megan's Memorial Tattoos

Abby's tattoo is the one with the stars. Megan's was designed by her friend Ilana.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Emily's Bird/Squirrel Feeder

This squirrel is eating from the feeder Emily made at school.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

This sign we ran across in San Diego reminded us of Emily because "Little Miss Sunshine" was one of her nicknames at school.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Memorial Tattoos

During July 4th week, we made our first family trip back to Florida since Emily's passing there December 30. While there, we got memorial tattoos. Sonja's is on her left foot where she can look at it often when she reclines to read. The butterfly reminds her that Emily now has a transformed body. Sam's is on his shoulder.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Even Thalia Misses Emily!

Emily loved her two cats. This cat, Thalia, gave birth to our other cat, Sugar. Emily often liked to give the genealogy by telling people, "Thalia Mommy -- Sugar Baby." Also in the pic is a Down syndrome doll given to Emily by the faculty of Warner Christian Academy. It was the only doll that she would ever play with regularly. In the background is a Blockbuster promotional display for the movie Shrek. That was one of her favorites. Mitch and Sam got the display for Emily in Orlando while she was in intensive care.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Jiggy & Josie (Emily's Neighborhood Buddies)

These twin neighborhood labs were loyal friends to Emily, escorting her to and from her bus stop every school day. Our neighbors told us that, while Emily was in the hospital those last 6 weeks, these dogs stayed on our deck and porch. When we returned home, they were there to greet us. They miss Emily, too.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tree-Planting Ceremony at Forest Middle School

Emily's class planted a tree on campus in her memory. A plaque was placed at the base of the tree with a nickname on it that one of her teachers had given her.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

One of the last projects Emily worked on in school was a bird feeder. We recently hung it on a tree outside our door and are enjoying watching the birds as they grab the seeds.
Emily was so proud of the Teddy Bear she made at a friend's birthday party! Now we enjoy hugging the bear and remembering how special her hugs were to us.

"I luh you merry, merry much!"

This is the tribute stone for Emily's grave. It says, "I luh you merry, merry much," because that is how Emily said, "I love you." During the years before Emily started verbalizing, Sonja prayed that Emily would someday be able to say "I love you" back to us. When that prayer was answered, it brought much joy to our whole family. (The picture on the stone has spaghetti sauce around her mouth. We like that because she almost always had it there!!!)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Free to Run

Sonja told the following story at Emily's graveside ceremony:

One Sunday morning our family visited a friend's church. It was charismatic and a bit more interactive than what we were used to. When the praise team began singing "Free to Run," many of the children began running around the sanctuary. Emily hadn't seen anything like this in church before! After a while, she looked up at us with an expression that asked, "Is it okay if I run, too?" We nodded, "Yes," and off she went.

As she ran around the sanctuary, her face was fixed on us the whole time. She was having so much fun!

Now, when we look at a particular picture of Emily, it's as if she has that same expression. It seems as if she's saying, "I'm running in eternity with Jesus." Yes, our hearts ache because we miss her so much, but we know that now she is "Free to Run."