Thursday, December 30, 2010

Three Years Ago Today

Three years ago today, Emily went home to be with Jesus. We woke up today to this painting outside our bedroom door.Ilana Poole (who had just got back from ministering with Megan in Thailand) painted it. The words say . . .
We wait in hope for the Lord.
He is our help and our shield; in Him our hearts rejoice
for we trust in His holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us,
Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 33:20-22

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Message from Mindi Robinson Mulligan

From Mindi: "I just wanted to tell you a quick story. I have been assigned an Exceptional Student Education (ESE) music class this year, which threw me off at first, but now I have come to love it. One of my students reminds me of sweet Emily, and I was reminded so much of her today. We are learning about holidays around the world and their music, and today was Germany. We made Christmas tree ornaments out of beads and the student had such a fascination with the beads that I couldn't help but get a little teary as I thought of the days I used to teach Emily in the upstairs of White Chapel. Thank you for sharing your daughter with me. The lessons that she taught me are carrying on through today!"

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Decorating the Christmas Tree

Abbie took these two pictures after we decorated the tree today. Holidays are full of memories, and we can't help but think of others whose hearts are also affected by the holidays. One is the Westerfield family whose dad/husband died December 30, 2009 (two years to the day after Emily). This will be their first holiday season without him. Another is the Dobsons whose daughter and sister with cerebral palsy unexpectedly didn't wake up last Christmas morning. It's only God's grace that will walk the Westerfields and the Dobsons through this season. Please pray for them if you read this. Sometimes it's hard for Thanksgiving to be "Happy" and for Christmas to be "Merry," but it can always be full of God's grace.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shopping in Emily's Memory

This is a picture of a bank that Ilana, Megan’s best friend, made for us as a keepsake for Emily since we were collecting butterflies. For months now, we’ve been dumping change into it and recently got to where we couldn’t stuff anymore in. We asked for a wish list from Arnold Palmer Hospital’s hematology/oncology play room and went shopping.

Aside from all the painful things that had to be done to Emily while she was at the hospital, she actually enjoyed being there. We were always with her and the child life staff provided all of Emily’s favorite DVDs plus a playroom full of toys. They also had daily activities and games. They were a huge blessing to us so we wanted to bless them back a little.

Emily would like that her memory is blessing other kids to have a little fun at the hospital.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Third Fall

This is our third fall without Emily. Someone told me recently that the feeling of loss never goes away completely but that the grief itself loses its strong grip on you. That's a pretty good way of putting it. A professor I work with who lost a child in an auto accident said, "It screams against the order of the universe to lose a child. You never completely 'get over it,' but you do learn to live differently." She recently spoke of how we so often fear the wrong things. Death has no victory over us; we need not fear it. Like the Apostle Paul said, "To live is Christ, to die is gain." The "gain" will be to live forever in the presence of our Savior and of our loved ones who've gone before us. The living, though, is sweet because we're walking with others and experiencing the journey together -- with both its joys and sorrows.
We continue to learn from people like this professor. There's a special "knowing" -- an awareness, an empathy -- that parents mourning the loss of their children share with one another. We still don't always know what to say to each other. But we know. We just know.
I'm thankful for that.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Tribute to the Best Doctors & Nurses Ever

While we were in Florida this summer, I stopped by Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital to thank the doctors and nurses once again for all they did to bless our lives. They are amazing people! They gave Emily exceptional care and extended her life by 8 years. (Yes, we believe God did that, but He definitely used them to help!)

That's a lot of hugs and laughter we wouldn't have had otherwise! Going back was emotional, but I kept thinking of how much she loved them. We spent over 200 nights and even more days at that place, and felt like it was our second home at times.

After we moved to Virginia, we made a trip to Florida and on our way stopped at a Wendy's in South Carolina. After sitting down at her table, Emily looked over at the line of customers and saw DR. DON! She was ecstatic.

What a "coincidence"! It was a blessing for her to get a hug from him at such an unexpected time! We'll never forget that moment. Although she didn't like all the poking and prodding the doctors and nurses had to do, she always knew how much they cared. How can you thank someone enough for that? You just can't!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Memory Quilts

Sonja was planning to donate Emily's clothes to the thrift shop but just didn't feel right about it. A friend offered to make each of us a memory quilt, so we each picked out clothes that held special memories and also picked out a picture to have printed on cloth and incorporated into it. On a recent trip to Florida, Sonja's friend took the quilts out one by one. Words can't express how special each one is! This first picture is of Sonja's quilt.
Since Emily enjoyed hanging out around the house in her underwear, each quilt has a few strips of cloth from her underwear. It's only fitting!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Happy 16th!

This is Madison, Emily's friend from Florida. Notice the purple beads and headband.
Words from Mommy: "I was trying to remember her last 'earth' birthday. We celebrated at home and one of her gifts was a picture collage that Megan and Abbie put together for her of friends and family. (Emily loved looking at pictures). She often would get the box of loose pictures out and sit on the floor and take them out and look at them. She would be surrounded by pictures strewn all over the floor. The other gifts were a big poster of Shrek, one of the Disney Princesses and a stuffed Shrek."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sweet 16 Tomorrow: HAP' BUDDAY!!!

Tomorrow would have been Emily's 16th birthday. I can still hear her saying "Hap' Budday!" She would say it often after someone's birthday until someone else celebrated theirs. We gave up trying to explain that it was no longer that person's birthday after the day was done. She was just convinced that it was that person's birthday until someone else had one. "HAP' BUDDAY, EMILY!"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Visit to Emily's School

Today, I had to visit an intern at the middle school that Emily attended. As I approached it, I was reminded that, every time we would drive by her school, she would say proudly, "My school!" Sonja made me promise to say "hi" to Emily's teachers while I was there. So I looked them up. Ms. Mary Young said, "Come here and look at my computer." At first I didn't know what she meant, but then I noticed a picture of Emily taped to the top corner of her screen. Even after two years, Emily's teacher had left it there. She said the day Emily gave the picture to her, she pointed to the spot on her computer where she wanted the teacher to put it and that it's been there ever since. I can see Emily doing that!
It was great to see the two teachers who flew from Virginia to Orlando to see Emily in the hospital: Diane Isenhour and Nicole Sloan. We'll never forget all the faculty at Forest Middle School who loved our Emily.
Ms. Sloan took me outside to see the tree the school planted in Emily's memory. It has grown so big in these two years! At the bottom of the tree is a plaque with the nickname of what one of the teachers, Susan Boyd, called her: "Little Miss Sunshine."

Monday, May 17, 2010


Sometimes Emily would call me "Dah-ee-Sam" -- especially if she had called out "Dah-ee" several times before I responded. Then she'd sharply say "Dah-ee-Sam!" She knew that always got my attention. Today I'm missing her call me that.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What She Loved

A Florida friend just emailed these pics to us. Emily loved being with friends, swimming with them, and celebrating birthdays! When we get pics like this, it's like a special visit with her. It's been over two years, but we still miss her so.