Sunday, November 20, 2011

Healing Wounds

When your a child all you want to do is grow up and make your own decisions, live your own life and not answer to anyone. What we don't realize as children in how complicated life is the older you get. Having to work, pay bills, juggle work and family life, juggle relationships, friendships, worry about so much more than whether or not you can go outside and play with your friends. As I have grown older life has been more than complicated. I have been through a lot in my 27 years on earth and I know since I have survived the unthinkable I can get through anything, but sometimes the smallest things can bring me to my knees without warning. I am always surprised by my reactions to some of the smallest bumps in the road. I often wonder if it is because there are so many open wounds that I have not allowed to heal, because healing some of the wounds causes so much pain.

These past few weeks I have been in a fog and in not such a good place. I hardly remember the months of Sept, Oct and a little bit of Nov. Most likely due to grief brain, but it is strange to look back and only remember bits and pieces of 2 1/2 months. I have been trying to process so many things at once that I have been on overload and not able to fully function.

Well the fog is lifting and I am taking a step back and realizing that many wounds need to be healed that I have not taken care of. I can not heal at all if I continue to leave these wounds open. Yes I will have a scar that will be tender to the touch every now and then, but won't hurt as if it was fresh. I can't continue to live this way and something needs to be done, so I am going to surrender and just let what comes come and (try) to not control the emotions. If I cry, I will cry, if I laugh, I will laugh, if I scream, I will scream. I have been lost these past couple months but I am finding my way and I know I CAN do this. I know I have some people in my life that are going to hold me to these emotions (you know who you are) and I am going to PROMISE that I will try very hard to allow these wounds to be healed and these emotions to be expressed. Can't fully live until I do so.

 My life was blessed with a beautiful, smart, loving, brave little girl for a reason and I am going to make her proud and live life to the fullest and make a difference in this world. For M-Bug ALWAYS and FOREVER.

Mckenna Jodell mommy loves and misses you with every breath I take. Keep sending me the signs telling me I am where I am supposed to be. I will listen to that inner voice that I know is you guiding me baby girl. I am listening. I love you pumpkin pie. Sending you mommy lovin and a few kisses <3

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wow, Has It Really Been 3 years........

3 years ago today I held my beautiful daughter while her heart stopped beating,

3 years ago today I held her, kissed her and touched her for the very last time,

 3 years ago today I walked out of the hospital empty handed leaving a part of me with her.

 Nothing I have ever experienced in my life will ever be as painful as it has been losing Mckenna and learning to live life without her. My whole life changed and not in just the obvious ways, my mind changed, my thinking changed, I physically and emotionally change. I  touched places within myself I never knew existed. I am still amazed at the fact that I am still standing 3 years later. NEVER did I imagine I would be where I am today. I remember lying on my floor sobbing, clinging to her pajamas just trying to get through the seconds not even being able to look past the minute. In the past 3 years I have grown in ways I never thought possible. I have learned to laugh and have joy again. I have learned that this is a part of my life forever and that I have to make the decision to continue to move forward. I have learned that there are others like me and I now have a new family. Though it is not the family I would like to be a part of, it is the family I am glad I have.

 I MISS Mckenna every single day. Some days it takes my breath away, other days she brings a smile to my face, days can be different from one day to the next. I was so very blessed to have 9 amazingly beautiful months with Mckenna Jodell but I am quickly reminded that I have lived 3 years without her.  That is 36 months, or 1095 days. Yes I am very, very thankful for the time I had, but it hurts to know all that I have missed out on raising her, and watching her grow. I see all my friends babies that were born shortly after Mckenna reach their milestones I am reminded, when I see pictures posted of their children I am reminded. I am reminded of the years I have lost and the years I will never see.

Mckenna has taught me more in the her short 9 months and in the long 3 years she hasn’t been here than I learned in my 27 years on this earth. People know her from other countries, people talk about her to friends and family to help them see the importance of television safety, they see a ladybug and she comes to mind. She has touched so many lives around the world and it is my goal in life to make sure she lives on through me. Mckenna will never be forgotten and as her mother I will make sure she lives on.

Mckenna Jodell mommy loves and MISSes you every day. I love you very much my sweet girl. XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX never enough hugs and kisses.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My New Journey

Over the past year or so I have had the strong urge to apply at PCH. I was too scared and thought I was crazy for even considering it, so I put it in the back of my brain. Well as we know when you put things in the back of your brain they have a tendency to sneak back into the front. So I have battled this overwhelming urge to apply for many months till one day I felt it was time and applied. I applied for many positions and never got a call back, so I figured it just wasn’t my time. Until I got an email saying another PCT job opened up so I said to myself, one more time and if I don’t get it I will put it to rest for a little while longer. Well a couple days later I got a call back. I was excited, scared, nervous, thrilled and called them back to set a day for an interview. Honestly I didn’t think I did well in the interview and realized that I need to get some better interview skills. Well 2 days after my interview I got a call late on a Fri evening saying I have been offered a position working nights. I was more than thrilled and excited. I thought, finally I am following my gut and going to a place I have always wanted to work, making a change that I needed and moving forward with my Social Worker career. Getting my foot in the door and knowing that this is where I am supposed to be. Well fast forward one month, all that excitement has faded into pure fear, anxiety and doubts. Fear of being surrounded by triggers, sick children, being in the same space where Mckenna passed away. Anxiety that I don’t know if I can handle it, what feelings it is going to bring and has already brought. Doubts that I made the right decision to leave my comfort zone and make this big of a change during this time of year. The unknown is a scary thing, meeting new people, and taking care of kids is totally different than the elderly. It’s a whole different level of thinking and I am TERRIFIED. This has not been an easy month for me and most people have no idea what taking this job has done to me emotionally. Tomorrow is my first day on the floor and when I think about it I get anxious, stomach aches, I feel like I am going to jump out of my skin, my heart races, it’s been a little overwhelming to be honest. I am sure as time goes by I will start to see that this was a good decision and I am where I am supposed to be. I keep telling myself that in order to make myself feel like taking this job wasn’t a HUGE mistake. PCH is where I lost the love of my life, but is also the place that has touched my soul in a way that I can’t describe. I just hope I can give those kids what they need, and the parents a little peace and calmness. Hoping for a good first week and a career that I have stepped into because of a little girl who changed my life the min she was born. Hope I make you proud Mckenna love and MISS you pumpkin pie.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

13 years ago

Wow 13 years, has it really been that long since I have saw my dad? Has it really been that long since I called someone *dad*? How can it be that he has been gone 13 years? As this day has been approaching he has been on my mind and I have actually had several dreams about him. One of the things that has crossed my mind is that he has been gone as many years as I was alive at the time of his diagnosis. I am not sure why this seems to affect me so, but it has. The year he was diagnosed with brain cancer I had just turn 13 and was so excited to finally get to see him more often. Growing up I didn’t get see him as much as I would have liked. I don’t have the memories my brothers and sister have, I never got to really know my dad the way they did, though the memories I do have I cherish. The same month I moved back to Phoenix, and finally got the chance to spend time with the dad I longed to be with, was the same month he was diagnosed with a 3 inch brain tumor. I remember those days as if it were yesterday. The look in his face as he was told his diagnoses, the moment after surgery when he was angry that there was blood on his hands, the way he looked days later as if someone kicked the crap out of him, the mood swings and him yelling at me for no reason, the hallucinations of seeing snakes on the roof tops and cows in the trees, the falls, his life fading before my eyes. From the time of diagnosis to the day he died was 10 months. I watch as my dad make a huge transformation and it was a lot to take in as a 13 year old girl. I grew up very fast in those 10 months and that was the start of learning about this thing called grief. He passed away on June 5th, 1998 which if you know me know that it was the day before I turned 14.

 I was in the room the morning he passed away, I watched him take his last breath, I collapsed onto the floor crying like I had never cried before asking why. I did not take his death very well and I know that I truly grieved for my father. I would cry, and light candles, listen to the song I chose when we spread his ashes. I would write about it in my journals.  The first few years it kind of surprises me each year was different, some years I did ok around this time, others I wouldn’t do so well. I hated my birthday for years but now I am able to enjoy it again. Losing my dad at 14 was a tough thing to go through and it is something that changed me as a person.

The past few weeks I have been thinking of him and thinking of the things he has missed out on in the past 13 years, military ball, prom, drill team competitions, graduations, my wedding, Brandon’s wedding, Gavin, Mckenna, his grandkids growing up, all the things you want a father around for. Writing all this down does make me miss him, but to be honest if he hadn’t have passed away my life would be dramatically different. I would have probably moved in with him when my mom’s drinking got out of control, went to a different high school, met different people, I never would have met Billy, never would have lived in NC, never would have had Mckenna. This is something that I can’t imagine. Losing my father was one of the hardest things I had to deal with at the time, it has made me who I am today. His death taught me so much and though it may sound weird to some, I am thankful for having had to go through it. It was one the hardest things in my life and I could have walked down a different path, but I chose to not allow his death to take me down a path of destruction. I chose to look at the things that his death brought me.  His death made me appreciate the people I love, it taught me compassion, empathy, sympathy. It taught me that you can become stronger in the mist of pain, that life does go on no matter what happens in your life. Who knows what kind of person I would be if I hadn’t had the experiences I did. I do wish I had my dad here, but grateful for the time I did get with him and that I knew him at all.

On this day 13 years ago I lost the dad I never truly got to know, the dad that loved me unconditionally, the dad who gave the best hugs, the dad who made me laugh, the dad who’s face would light up when he saw me. I love you dad and miss you.

 Peter Joseph Santi
05/04/48- 06/05/1998

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

This "hallmark" holiday is one that can be very hard to handle when your one and only child is in heaven. But today I got to do what I love best and that is honor my daughter. The Empty Stroller / Empty Shoe walk was AMAZING and the turn out was everything we hoped for. Looking around at all the families of the children gone too soon is such a sight to see. The love that comes when all the families come together is overwhelming. It was an honor to be there and to be recognized as a mother. My life changed the moment a little girl named Mckenna Jodell Fox came into this world and made me a mother. I AM a mother and Mckenna IS my daughter always and forever. I will walk for her until the day I am reunited with her again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Father's Love

Today as I was visiting Mckenna I watched a father tend to his son's grave. It struck me and I couldn't help but watch this father showing his love for his son. He was cutting the grass around the headstone making sure it was perfectly cut, putting everything in its place, moving things around just a bit to make it perfect. I found this so touching and yet so heartbreaking. This is his way to parent the son who is no longer here for him to parent. When he was finished he took a step back looking up at the sky, then looking at his son's spot rubbing his eyes fighting back the tears. I felt like I should look away because this was his time with his son and so personal but my heart broke for him. This is not the way things are supposed to be. Your not supposed to bury your child they are supposed to bury you, your not supposed to make sure their graves are perfectly kept and well cared for your supposed to watch them grow. It is so unfair on so many levels that he has to go visit his son's grave, that I have to visit Mckenna's grave, that I have had to see 3 babies burried next to Mckenna in 2 1/2 years. My heart breaks for each and every one who has lost a child, because it is a pain that is undescribable, unimaginable, and forever lasting. Thinking about this father who has to go to bed tonight without his son.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Forgiving someone doesn't come easy, asking for forgiveness is hard to do and forgiving yourself is almost impossible. I have heard this word "forgiveness" for almost 2 1/2 years since Mckenna's death.
 "You need to FORGIVE yourself, it wasn't your fault, it was an ACCIDENT."

What people don't understand is no matter the fact that it was an ACCIDENT it truly was my fault. It was because of my actions of moving the television that Mckenna is no longer here. I am responsible for my daughters death.

Until this past January I could not "forgive" myself. How could I let myself off the hook for killing Mckenna? Well what I have come to learn in this journey is that yes I am the one that moved the TV, yes I am the one responsible for taking Mckenna's life but it was an ACCIDENT. I DID NOT intend for this to happen, I DID NOT do this on purpose, I made a MISTAKE yes a very BIG MISTAKE, but I have taken responsiblity for what I have done and I have FORGIVEN myself. When I destroyed the television that I moved that took Mckenna's life it was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I could move forward with forgiving myself for the MISTAKE I made that took the love of my life from me.

I have to believe that if I was face to face with Mckenna right now she would say to me " Mommy I FORGIVE you, it wasn't your fault, I love you". I am holding on to those words until the day I am truly face to face with my daughter. Until that day comes I will continue to honor Mckenna Jodell and keep her memory alive because everyone needs to know how special she was/is and she deserves to be remembered.

Mckenna Jodell Mommy loves you more than words can even express, more than I will ever be able to show. I hope mommy is making you proud. Keep guiding me in the direction I am supposed to be going. I love you pumpkin pie. Kiss Kiss Kiss.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Imagine for a Moment

Just imagine for a  moment you wake up one morning with your beautiful, healthy, full of life baby girl. The day goes on like it is supposed to. Then suddenly you make a decision that will change your life FOREVER. You turn a TV too far and it falls on your precious child. You pull your lifeless child from under this massive television knowing in your heart that she won't survive this.

                    Just imagine for a moment holding your beautiful baby girl with tubes coming out of every part of her body knowing these were the last moments you are going to hold your baby while her heart was still beating. Then the doctor coming in telling you " we have been watching her heart on the monitor and we think it has stopped, so I am going to check" she places the stethoscope on her tiny chest and looking you into your eyes with tears in her eyes saying "she's gone".

                                         Just imagine for a moment rocking your baby girl one last time singing to her telling her how sorry you are. Holding her cold hand in your hand not wanting to say goodbye but wanting to join her.

                                                          Just imagine for a moment walking out of a hospital without your child that you woke up with that morning. Going to bed not giving her, her bath, feeding her, her bottle, putting her in her crib kissing her good night. Not waking up the next morning to her talking baby talk in her crib but waking up to silence not wanting to wake up.

Its all unimaginable even written in words. So many mothers and fathers have had to experience their own story of holding their child knowing it was going to be the last time they will hold them, see them, kiss them. It is a life that no one would want to live. So Just imagine for a moment what it must be like for bereaved parents who don't have their children in their arms. Take a moment to mention their child/children names and remember them because we don't "move on" we "don't forget" we feel it everyday and we think of them EVERYDAY. You don't know what it would mean to us for someone to randomly mention their child's name. Love yours and cherish them because you never know if you wouldn't have to IMAGINE it and you would HAVE to LIVE it.

<3 Mckenna Jodell Fox <3

Friday, January 28, 2011

What A Road It Has Been

2 years 4 months and 1 day ago my life completely changed. I entered a world that I never knew existed, a life that I wouldn't wish upon anyone even my worst enemy. On my journey I have learned a great deal about myself and I am still learning and *becoming* the Ashley that I must have chosen to be. In the beginning of this grief journey I never, ever thought I would be where I am at today. When I would lay on my bedroom floor curled up in a ball sobbing asking for my daughter back, asking why, saying I can't do this anymore not wanting to take another breath, I couldn't see past my pain. I couldn't see past that hour or min let alone think years down the road. But as I sit here today and I look back on how far I have come I am in amazement. I am still breathing, I am still here, I have survived these past 2 years 4 months and 1 day without the love of my life. The roads are not easy, they go up and down, they have unexpected curves, they have huge mountains and sometimes just small hills, they have rocks and boulders, stickers and heat but even in those roughest roads there are roads that have flowers, rainbows, sunsets, sunrises, the smell of rain, singing birds. There is beauty that I couldn't see before because my grief was overwhelming me. I still live with it everyday and I STILL and ALWAYS will miss her and have days that I can't get past the pain but they come further apart and don't last as long as they use to. I see that Mckenna's life still has a purpose and she is living through me. I can hear her in my head whispering "Mommy I'm here" to remind me that I am doing what I am meant to do. More people know about my amazing, wonderful, beautiful little girl who not only changed my life, but changed so many other people's lives. I will continue to honor Mckenna and I will continue to work towards my goal because I want my daughter to be proud of me. She deserves to be remembered and until the day that I take my last breath and I am reunited with her I will continue to have her live through me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Finally Destroyed

How do I put to words how much I hate that TV? How do I describe how it felt to destroy it? When I first laid eyes on the television it lierally took my breath away, it was the first time I had seen it since that day. It was much bigger than I remember and all I could think was my poor, poor baby girl. I have wanted to destroy the televison that killed Mckenna for over 2 years and I finally got the chance this past Sunday. I couldn't get rid of it or sell it because I couldn't fathom a family watching the TV that took my child's life. When the day finally came to destroy the thing that took her from me I had so many emotions going through my body. I was scared, nervous and had flashbacks all morning. I was curious to see how I would react and how I would feel when I was done. I decided to to take it out to the desert to destroy it so I could shoot at the screen to make sure it would be easier to break. First shot cracked the screen and what a feeling that was to just see the broken screen. I shot 3 more times to make sure it would break when I hit it with the bat. So I then grabbed the bat and made my way towards the TV ready to beat the hell out of it. The first hit was amazing I then started banging the TV with such force that I was out of breath and my arms began to ache but I wouldn't and couldn't stop. I just kept hitting it saying in my head you son of a bitch you took Mckenna away from me, I hate you, it's because of you I have to live the rest of my life without her. I hit it till I couldn't break it anymore than I already did. I was out of breath and shaking. It was gone, it was destroyed finally after 2 years 3 months and 13 days I finally destroyed the thing that caused me to lose Mckenna. The next day my body hurt and I was sore but it was worth all the pain to destroy that F***ing television.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ladybug Cookies

Sometimes there are people in your life that you don’t realize are the people you need the most. You try so hard to get the love and support from people that just end up not being what you need or what you thought they were. It’s the people who love you unconditionally that go unnoticed. I have always known my family loves me but never did I realize how much my sister in law loves me till this morning. I know people think about Mckenna and love her but never mention her to me at random. They don’t tell me a memory or tell me how much they miss her. I know a lot of people don’t know what to say or they don’t want bringing her up to make me sad or cry. But the smallest thing like ladybug cookies to show me that Mckenna has not been forgotten and that they love her and miss her has made my heart smile. Such a simple and kind gesture has me at a loss for words really. So take the time to remember someone’s child by doing a random act of kindness in their name or just call them and tell them you are thinking of them and their child. You will never know what that means to a bereaved parent who feels like the world has forgotten their child.  Thank you Sarah and I love you