Rosemary's Blog

Another blog by Lisa
July 31, 2008, 5:03 pm
Filed under: Family and Friends

July 31, 2008

Thanks so much for giving me the feeling that I can just write out all these different emotions and send them, it is kind of freeing when I hit that “send” button.

2 steps forward, many back

So, seems feel I am doing better, you know, handling it all well, then – blam!

I have never been good at feeling feelings, especially bad ones.  Now, we are about to go on another round of “firsts” since Jessie died.  School will be starting here soon.  Melanie is so mixed about beginning kindergarten.  I understand, I am mixed about it too.

I am so mad some days that I won’t be buying Jessie her new backpack, new shoes (that she would wear out by New Years, or grow out of), supplies, etc.  Then my mood switches to smiling because I think of all the wonderful, but sometimes stressful times we picked out all that stuff and all the time it took for her to decide what her backpack would be for that year, changing her mind back and forth! It makes me laugh, then I cry, realizing that that will never happen for her and I again.

My mood the past couple of weeks has gone from feeling okay about handling it all to feeling almost incapable of moving, of doing anything that I need to do. I do my cake orders, but find it hard to do.  I still exercise, but have no motivation.  I exercise because my body feels so good after I do, the stress is less and I feel it is a good outlet, though it is so hard to get started, I try to do it anyway.

My jeans are so tight, you know, the ones I was so thrilled to be fitting into comfortably, and looking forward to the next size down?  I am disappointed with myself for that.  I find that I don’t care if I put on nice clothes and makeup, I am fine with my hair up, a hat on and stretchy workout clothes.  I just don’t like all this!  BUT, I am told I have to go through it, there is no other way.

I wish there was a manual for all this, but everyone has to do it their own way.  When people say to me ” I understand”, I want to say so badly, “no you don’t!” but I just nod my head.  I have some telling me it is great for me to stay busy, I have others telling me to slow down and take time to feel it all.  I have people look at me and say they don’t know how I am even getting up everyday, because they certainly couldn’t if they had gone through this, and I want to say “yes, you would, because you have to, there are others looking to you.”

People ask Tom how I am and he says I am handling it all very well.  Then I talk to him and say   “yes, in front of people I am a rock, when no one is around I melt into a puddle of goo.”  I have found that I am quite a great actress.

Some days I pray for strength, some days I don’t.  Some days I don’t want strength I just want to quit hurting. Some days I want to crawl under the covers and never come out again – and then I hear my sweet Melanie’s voice, asking me to help her with something, or telling me how much she misses her sister and I know she needs me to listen – so I listen, hold her, and try to make her life now as normal as it was.  There is my strength, I know God is using her to keep me going.

Today, I chose to write instead of eat about what I am feeling.  I am glad for that, kind of.

Lisa Rousseau’s Blog
July 28, 2008, 5:02 pm
Filed under: Family and Friends

July 28, 2008

Just another blog of mine, I know you can relate.  This is a hard time of the year for me right now with Back to School.  Any advice on how you dealt with it?  Thanks, Lisa


Last weekends conference was great. I really began to dread it the closer it got, not knowing what it would be like, but the last day, I didn’t want it to end. It was so comforting to be with around 1300 other people who understood my pain. When they talked, they said how I felt, they said things that made me know I wasn’t really going crazy as I feel I am sometimes. Then, it was back to the “real” world. It was good to get home and see Melanie and Tom. I did miss them while I was gone, but I needed that so badly. Mom and I had a lot of time to talk and be together. That helped too.

So this past week, I began with feeling pretty strong. But today, I did the BIG sobbing thing again. I really feel I am getting better and then I just lose it! I did find out at the conference that it is “normal” (finding out what a new normal means).

School is about to start. It is time for shopping for shoes, backpacks, supplies, etc. It is hitting me HARD! Melanie will be going full time for her first time. She is mixed about it. Her Jessie will not be at the school with her as they have always planned. She has days she is excited and days she seems to dread it. I really wish people would not ask her daily if she is excited about kindergarten. I believe she will do well. But, I am having a hard time knowing this year, we will not be buying these things for Jessie to begin her 4th grade year.

I am not really feeling social lately, but today I went to the riverpark for our “sparknic” with the chattanooga chew chews team get together.(Sparkpeople website)  It was nice to meet the other people. I didn’t find myself as cheerful as I was before Jessie died. I have more trouble finding things to say. I am not as comfortable as I used to be. But, I did make myself go and I am glad I did.

On the way home, I began to cry, A LOT! I pulled into the parking lot of Jessie’s karate school and sobbed and talked and sobbed and gave myself a headache. Thank goodness it was closed today.

When I had cleared my eyes enough to go, I drove toward home. I began to cry hard again, and I looked right in front of me in the sky (not the best thing to do when driving and crying) and there was a beautiful rainbow. We haven’t had a drop of rain today, and none in sight. It reminded me of how Jessie loved rainbows and how she would see amazing things in nature that we, as adults, would be too busy to see. The way the world worked just amazed her. I try to see things more now the way she saw them. The rainbow, on this non rainy day soothed me. In a way I felt it was her, trying to calm me. Some would call me crazy for thinking that way – but I have come to not care what others will think of me when I am having a day like today. I still do not like to let others see me cry, but I don’t have much choice somedays. It happens sometimes when I don’t want it to.

So now, after my big letting out of emotions today, I do have a headache, but I feel somewhat cleansed. I needed that, I have not been taking time to do that as often as I should. It is hard to caregive and take care of myself too. But, I feel that Melanie is feeling free to express herself and her feelings. I feel I am helping her with this and that helps me.

So, we start a new week, with finding our new normal. It is not easy, but we will do it. One small step at a time with support, prayers and God’s help.

Note from Rosemary:  Lisa has agreed that I can post the correspondence she and I share along the way.  I know her feelings mirror those of many other bereaved parents.

The Love of a Friend
July 15, 2008, 4:55 pm
Filed under: Family and Friends

The following letter was written to Linda Harkness by her friend Stephanie Crowe.  This letter of love and support is one that speaks to every parent who has lost a precious child.  Stephanie has given me permission to share her thoughts with the readers of my blog.  For those of you in the darkness of grief, read Stephanie’s words every day.  She is also speaking to you.

My very Dearest Linda,

Since we have spoken several times in the last week, I wanted to write some of my thoughts on some of your statements. I definitely don’t claim to have any answers whatsoever, but I’m hoping that in weighing your words and trying to put them in perspective for myself, that my perspective might add to your own to some day offer some sense of hope and peace; or if not anything so great as those, just some food for thought.

First, like you and so many others, I would give anything to go back to Feb. 21, 2008 and rewrite history. Unfortunately, all of the “what if’s” and “I wish’s” will not alter the tragedy that occurred Feb. 22, and I’m so very sorry that you and your family are now having to rewrite your future as opposed to how you had previously envisioned it.

One of  the things that has made an impression on me when we’ve talked, is the fact that you keep referring to yourselves as a family of four now. My feeling is that the Harkness family I know, will forever be a family of five. Kristin Marie Harkness, though not physically here, continues to exist for all of us and will always be a member of your family. You may no longer need five place settings at dinner, or five movie tickets at the theatre, but Kristin will always remain a part of the Harkness family. I know you realize this, and saying it in these terms doesn’t change the fact that you can’t see her, speak to her, or spend time with her, but it’s another of my hopes that if you could continue to refer to yourselves as a family of five, the lack of Kristin’s presence may someday become less oppressive.

Obviously, I can’t imagine losing one of my children, and although you have lost Kristin, I’m not sure you can imagine how you would feel if it were Jessica or Eric. I know you had a special bond with Kristin, and she is your baby, your Poopsie! I also know you DO NOT wish it had been one of your other children instead. My hope in making the following comparison is to show you what and for whom you have to live and thrive.

If, God forbid, Jessica were no longer with us here on earth, I sincerely feel you would be in the same place you are now emotionally. Jessica is your first born. She’s the child you’ve known the longest, the one you have loved for the longest period of time. You ached for her during her middle school trauma, during her high school break up, and during her first year of college. You’ve experienced all of her trials and tribulations right along with her, and still continue to do so. I’ve seen the pride and joy in your eyes and have heard it in your words throughout the years when you have spoken of her.

Losing Eric (again, God forbid, anything would have or will ever happen to him) would have caused you the same type of pain. He is your middle child, your only son, and also a source of great pride and joy for your entire family. His character, charisma, ambition, and integrity has always been apparent, and is rare in someone so young. Even when I met him as a fifth grader, he stood out as an upstanding, incredibly well-raised, respectful young man.

Both Jessica’s and Eric’s character is shining through during this horrific time. The fact that both of them are willing to uproot their lives and move closer to home for you and Tom and for one another, is a true testament to how they have been raised.

You and Tom have been excellent parents to all three of your children. I know you both have guilt for some of the decisions made with Kristin and on her behalf, and I also know how guilt can fester and become an extremely heavy burden — a burden so incredibly heavy at times that you may think you can’t live with it, but please know that from where I stand, and I know from speaking to others many feel the same, you have always exhibited excellent parenting skills. You’ve both always been available for your children, you’ve been involved, you’ve been disciplinarians when the circumstances warranted it, and you’ve been the greatest cheerleaders and advisors when needed. You have instilled in your children a sense of morality that is incomparable to many other children their ages.

No matter the source or the content, I truly realize that words will never heal your incredible pain, but, as I said, I just wanted to offer some perspective on the incredible blessings(Jessica and Eric) who are still very much a part of your lives. I do realize your lives will never be the same as you have known them or as you had planned them, but with the strength, love, and support of your family and others, I hope you will see that they are still very much worth living.

Linda, a word you use quite often now is “never.” Another hope I have is that in some way you can open your heart, mind, and soul to the possibilities left yet to unfold in your life. Please live for Kristin who can no longer do so for herself.

I love you all and sincerely wish I could relieve you of your pain.


A Birthday for Jordan
July 15, 2008, 4:53 pm
Filed under: Family and Friends

Today is July 15th, 2008….twenty-seven years ago I was blessed with the birth of my third son, Jordan Cox Smith.  Our oldest son Drew was seven and our middle son Jeremiah was four when Jordan entered our lives.  Jordan was eleven when they both left ours.

Luther and I are not with Jordan today to celebrate his birthday.  He is in Charleston, SC and we are missing him here in Beattyville, KY.  Hopefully he is out with friends tonight having the time of his life.  He deserves it.  He has earned it by the life he has led since that day in 1992 when his life shifted forever.

I send Jordan my love tonight across the miles.  We are so lucky we have him in our lives.  Many of our friends are now childless mothers and fathers…Dinah…Becky…Jim…Gam.  Why are we the lucky ones to have a surviving child?  Have we lived our lives since 1992 in a way that honors Drew and Jeremiah?  In the words of our friend Elaine Stillwell, have we been able to “sing their song”?

Visions of Jordan celebrating his birthday tonight with his brothers, their wives and maybe several nieces and nephews crowd my mind.  Most days I can stave off these thoughts.  Special days make this more of a mind game.  I choose to be thankful tonight for the time I had with Drew and Jeremiah and the times I will have with Jordan in the future.

Happy Birthday Jordan.