About Our Family

Brien and I began dating in high school. Yes, we are high school sweethearts.  :o) Our first date was October 2, 1993--the Homecoming dance.  We dated all that year (Brien's senior year) and the following (my senior year) while he was at Virginia Tech.  Our relationship then became long distance when I chose to attend Mary Washington College (now the University of Mary Washington).  We made it.  Then, he joined the Air Force and was in Texas for Basic Training and Tech School.  We still made it. 

June 19, 1999, we were married in my sweet church.  At this point, we had been a couple for close to six years and we couldn't see any reason to postpone marriage even though we were young.  I guess you could say B and I grew up together.  We weathered many storms together.   

Our beautiful daughter, Hannah, was born September 21, 2001 (if you asked Han, she would tell you it was "Septembager twentyfirst").  She was a beautiful baby who was nosy and inquisitive from the moment she was born.  She was delivered sunny-side up, with her eyes wide open, looking at the midwife as she was born.

As she grew older, we came to love her more and more.  She was funny with a wicked sense of humor, was artistic and given toward the dramatic.  I swore Hannah was going to be my Daytime Emmy Award winner she was such a drama queen.  I knew we were in trouble the day she collapsed on the floor in a heap, not screaming and crying, merely wailing.  She was two.  Two!

I cannot begin to encapsulate the Monkey in a few paltry sentences.  She was a force to be reckoned with, a force of nature all her own.  She saw beauty and sparklies where others saw none.  She threw herself headlong into life, always finding joy and items of wonder in the world around her.

Our darling Lily joined the family December 19, 2005.  She was an itty bitty baby, our Little Bit.  She was petite (still is), and laid back, sleeping pretty much from the moment she was born until she was about six months old.  At that time, she woke up, discovered her sister and that was it.  She wanted to be anywhere Hannah was.  Oh how she adored her big sister. 

Tragedy struck July 19, 2007.  It was a hot and humid Thursday.  We had made plans to get together with our friend Sarah and her daughter Erin and decided to go to the beach.  Hannah was overjoyed as she LOVED LOVED LOVED the beach and playing in the water.

She and I had had a good morning, playing together, a nice snuggle in bed, a trip to see the bee-YOU-tee-full waterlily in the pond.  Sarah and Erin arrived, I coated the girls in "sunscream" and we were off.

I'll never look at murky water the same way ever again.  Even now, typing this, I'm overcome with anxiety and grief.  Playing a game of "go under-come up" with a little girl she had just met (Hannah loved EVERYONE and wanted to be friends with them), Hannah went under and never came back up.  She was impossible for me to find because I couldn't see her. 

Our lives were changed irrevocably that day.  Lily lost her idol and role model, and Brien and I lost our light.  We were all lost.  We had no idea how to move forward, and quite frankly, didn't want to.  I just wanted my Monkey back.  We had to find a new "normal" since our old one was shattered.  (If you are interested in our journey through grief, you might want to check the archives for July 2007 to the present.) 

Our new "normal" included the addition of our sweet baby, Eleanor Jane (Ellie) April 19, 2010.  She is still a teeny Beanie, but I can tell you right now she is a doll baby.  She is beyond laid back and easy going and is our hope for our future, our celebration of life continuing. 

It has been a long and winding road, full of ups and downs.  I refer to it as my yo-yo.  That which goes down must come up again.  This is what my yo does.  It goes down, it comes up.  Some days the yo stays down longer than others.  These days, the down yos occur fairly infrequently, although they are still there.

Daily we are faced with choices.  Do I stop at the yellow light or go on?  Do I wear the pink shirt or white shirt today?  Do I get out of bed now or do I have a lie in?

When Hannah died, we faced the biggest choice ever.  Do we "die" with her or do we choose to live--I mean really live, not just be alive? We chose to get out of bed every day.  We chose to remember her, to talk about her, to have her live on.  We chose to find the joy that is there for us, if we only seek it.  We chose to honor the sweet girl we lost, the sweet angel who touched so many lives even though she was so young.  We chose to live

For better or for worse, this is our story and our journey and how we have come to be where we are in our lives.  You are invited to share in the journey with us.

--Posted by Rachael, July 2010